You don't need special ingredients to make Halloween party food. Give everyday food a Halloween makeover by repurposing the recipe. Most of the recipes I'm sharing today can be made ahead of time. This makes things a lot less hectic the day of the party, because most of the work has already been done.
When I wrote about Sausage Balls, I described this simple three ingredient recipe as a "no brainer." This term is definitely appropriate because on Halloween this appetizer turns into brains. The brains can be baked up to five days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave or oven. If you reheat them in the oven, you may need to cover the pan with foil to keep the tops from getting too brown. If you want to make them look more disgusting, slightly squish the warm brains with your fingers.
Baked Mozzarella Cheese Sticks turn into fingers with the addition of sliced almonds for fingernails. Unfortunately, you can't add lines for the knuckles because the cheese will ooze out when it's baked. The cheese sticks need to be assembled and refrigerated at least four to six hours ahead of time. If you're short on time, they can be assembled and refrigerated the night before. Unlike the other recipes, fingers are best served hot from the oven.
While the fingers are baking, whip up a batch of fake blood dipping sauce with this homemade pizza sauce recipe. This easy to prepare sauce only uses five ingredients and cooks in five minutes. One batch is enough for 18 fingers.
For years, I've used Nutter Butter cookies to make ghost cookies for Halloween. This year, I decided to turn these store bought cookies into monster toes. I used a package of spooky green candy melts instead of the usual white. Monster toes aren't pretty so you don't have to worry if the toes aren't covered perfectly with the candy melts.
The toenails are made with small pieces of black licorice. The pieces are too thick to use out of the package so I cut them in half.
If you want to add an extra ick factor, put a chocolate chip on the toe to mimic a wart. Normally, when I decorate with chocolate chips, I turn them upside down so the point doesn't show. To make the wart more disgusting, I put the chocolate chip with the point right side up. The cookies can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
A festive touch for Halloween is to coat drinking glasses with fake blood made from a mixture of corn syrup and food coloring.
Instead of liquid food coloring, I use gel icing -- a concentrated paste -- which is sold in small jars in a variety of colors. It produces richer, more vibrant colors and, because it's concentrated, a little dab will do! The most important thing to remember when using gel icing is to use a clean toothpick or knife every time you remove some icing from the jar. This keeps the contents from getting contaminated with frosting or, in this case, diluted with water. Once the rim is coated, stand the glass upright on a paper towel or piece of wax paper, letting the excess drip down the glass. It takes at least eight hours for the glasses to dry. To ensure they dry in time, I coat the glasses a day ahead of time.
With the glasses decorated, you need something to put in them. I turn my mother's Christmas Kool-Aid Punch into Ghoul-Aid Punch, by substituting two packages of orange Kool-Aid for the cherry and lemonade called for in the recipe.
The punch can be made a few days ahead of time, but don't add the 7-Up until it's served. To make the punch more festive, I add some orange gel icing.
have orange gel icing.
To keep with the holiday theme, I make ice cubes using silicone Halloween ice cube trays.
I don't use water to make the ice cubes; water will dilute the punch as the ice cubes melt. If you make the punch ahead of time, you can use some of it for ice cubes. You can do the same thing with pineapple juice, since it's also an ingredient in the punch. A 6 ounce can of pineapple juice was just enough to make one tray of ice cubes.
If you don't want to fool with ice cubes, an easy way to keep the punch cold is to add orange or pineapple sherbet to the punch bowl.