This – is – Halloween!

Halloween, in my opinion is the most fun time of year.  I love HORROR and the idea of ghosts and spirits among us.  We actually just booked a ghost tour in historic Savannah with television ghost hunter, Patrick Burns.  Cheesy?  Maybe.  But you have to embrace it all and be willing to use your imagination (ghosts are real by the way).  Maybe that’s why so many adults cease to celebrate the holiday… and that is a damn shame!  Halloween offers itself to truly be the most out-of-the-box, creative time of year.  Here’s a look at our costumes from a few Halloweens past…

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Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein
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A Pirate and a Mermaid (this was actually our Honeymoon in U.S.V.I.)
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Zombie Bride and Groom
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Evil Ring Leader and Circus Clown
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Morticia and Gomez Addams

Dress up.

I really get into the makeup portion of my costumes (much like real life).  My absolute favorite artist, specializing in (but not limited to) FX makeup, is the uber talented Angie Davis a.k.a. Goldiestarling.  I have been following her for years and this girl is truly my spirit animal.  Whether you’re interested in FX makeup or not, you have to appreciate the art.   Here is her Youtube channel and here is her Instagram page.  Please check her out.  I’ve lost hours upon hours watching her tutorials.

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“Bootstrap Bill” – makeup, costume design, and photography by Goldiestarling

Halloween parties.

This is your chance to get really creative with all aspects of the night.  Beware of deterring guests from eating the food in attempt to make it extra “gory”.  After all, it is a Halloween party, not Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  Here are a few bites from last year…

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charcuterie and coffin shaped cheeses
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pumpkin spice cupcakes
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pimento cheese deviled eggs
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white chocolate covered pretzels
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chocolate “spider” cake with cream cheese icing – made by my MOM!

We throw a pretty elaborate Halloween party every couple of years.  Each year, we invest more into the props.  Soon, we will need to convert our spare bedroom to a proper storage space.  For example, last year we added an actual burial casket and a 6 foot spider.

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Of course, for any party you need invitations.  It is very rare that you will receive an “Evite” from me.  I love paper invitations.  I think that they are more personal, and I think it’s sad that everything has gone digital (says the girl pushing a WordPress Blog).  I like printed photographs, magazines and books, and invitations that I can touch.  The invitation sets the tone for what one should expect from the party.  99% of the time, I make invitations myself.  It will save you quite a bit of money and they can be customized to your heart’s desire!  Not an artist?  Many artists will create a custom invitation for you and send you the file to print yourself.  Of course, you’re still paying for the work but you will save a ton in the end if you own a nice printer.  See the toe-tags below that we sent out for last year’s soiree.  Each personalized based on the cause of death, and then edges burned to create a gruesome, unsterile aesthetic.

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Home Decor.

Whether decorating the house for a party or just for the Halloween season, the task is equally as fun.  Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve done this year, which is very scaled back compared to last.  When not hosting the party, I try to keep it in the creepy theme that is Halloween, but still a bit classy- so, this year you won’t find decapitated clown heads hanging from hooks, or blood dripping from the window sill.  However, Kobi (our little pumpkin spice puppy) does carry around a “new toy” that looks like a prop from The Walking Dead.

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Try painting pumpkins instead of carving them- they will last much longer!
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These pillows were hand painted and sewn. I’m a sucker for all things vintage Halloween!

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Ravens and spiders sit amongst the wine racks.  Not overly obvious, but a nice detail.
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One of my favorite pieces… I found this wooden bride and groom last season at Marshalls.

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Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

 

Sunday Funday

Brunch is probably my favorite meal to have with friends.  Especially in the Fall.  It’s the perfect combination of many great things- something sweet, something savory, something “pumpkin spice”, and a good reason to drink bottomless mimosas before noon.  I try to dress fabulously appropriate, but I think showing up in the clothes that you wore  out the night before is equally appropriate, and probably makes for better conversation.  I have a friend, who will not be named (*cough* Julia Burns *cough*), who tends to find herself “too hungover” to make it to brunch.  She still doesn’t get it.  That is the POINT of brunch.  But, I digress… You can ask my husband, or many of my friends, I may not be the best cook when it comes to dinner, but I believe that I have masted the art of Brunch. If you’re hosting one at your home, here are a few tips:

1.) The Menu – A biscuit bar perhaps…  This could be made elaborate enough that you need not add anything else to accompany it.  You could choose to theme your menu around a specific season, for example, pumpkin pecan waffles in the Fall, or cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad croissants,  and fruit salads in the Summer.   Another fun idea: Head to a Farmer’s Market the day before (thank you, Atlanta!) and grab whatever fresh produce, meat, or cheeses that catch your eye.  Talk to the vendors – they will suggest things that you never thought of!  You can usually find good local honey and jams as well, and that is ALWAYS good- no matter what you’re serving.

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I feel like Quiche could have it’s own category, but I’ll mention it here… I almost always make a quiche. Who doesn’t like quiche? It’s so delicious, diverse, and easy to make! I change it up each time, to compliment the other menu items. When in doubt, make a quiche. See below for my latest creation…

2.)  Cocktails! – You can even get fancy with your cocktail menu!  Try a champagne bar with different juices and fruit purees.  Or, coffee bars are fun.  You can serve a variety of hot and iced coffees, flavored/regular or a range of roasts, and accompany with Kahlúa and Baileys.  Don’t forget the nutmeg, cinnamon, and whipped cream.  Now, my personal favorite is the Bloody Mary bar.  When done right, a “Bloody Bar” can double as part of the meal itself!  I’ll admit, my family gets carried away.  But that’s how we like it.  I better be drinking it through a meat stick or you can forget about my receiving my endorsements!

3.) Decor – Yes, no matter how intimate your brunch, you should consider the decor.  Do you have a theme?  At our last brunch, I went with a Kate Spade inspired tablescape (a simple version).  Black, white, gold, and berry.  Polka dots, crystal, even the food was black, white, and berry colored.  This can be done by switching out tablecloths, stemware, dishes, and adding florals.  It not as complicated as it sounds.  You don’t need to have a “sit down” formal meal.  Use appetizer plates and serve it buffet style, that way your guests can pick at the spread throughout the party, or sit and eat at their leisure.  I went with a white linen tablecloth, black “confetti dot” runner, and single stem knockout roses (picked from our yard).

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For an easy and inexpensive touch,  provide fun cocktail napkins.  I pick them up in random gift shops wherever I go, and even friends and family have brought me gifts of their own unique finds.  I assume it’s because I always seem to be passing out cocktails –  with an event appropriate cocktail napkin, of course!

Below is the full menu from this brunch, with recipes…

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Since it was the end of blueberry season, I served a LOT of blueberries.  What goes well with blueberries?  Everything… just kidding.  Honey!  My grandparents’ neighbors have hives that produce some amazing honey and we used it on several dishes.

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BlueberryCrostini.jpgI found the recipe on (you guessed it) PINTEREST!! This recipe originated from a food blog called Two Peas & Their Pod, and it is definitely a keeper.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup ricotta cheese
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 French baguette, thinly sliced and toasted
Additional honey, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place blueberries on a large baking sheet. Pour two tablespoons of the fresh lemon juice over the blueberries. Drizzle 1 tablespoon honey over blueberries. Gently toss the berries. Roast for 7-10 minutes or until blueberries are soft and almost ready to pop. You want to take them out of the oven before they pop. Let the blueberries cool to room temperature.

2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread the baguette slices with the ricotta cheese mixture. Spoon roasted blueberries on top of the cheese. Drizzle each baguette slice with honey and serve.

Note-to toast baguette slices-preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place baguette slices on a large baking sheet and toast until edges are slightly golden and bread begins to toast, about 5 minutes.

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This is CRACK.  If you’ve never had candied bacon, stop what you’re doing and make this.  I have no real recipe, per se, I just know how it’s done.  When I was in graduate school, I interned for Turner Broadcasting.  One assignment was to assist on a photoshoot for CNN’s “Slow Food” Special, featuring Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch. He showed us how to make candied bacon in the kitchen of Restaurant Eugene, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Maybe that explains the root canal I had earlier today???

Buy some good, thick cut applewood smoked bacon, place on a baking sheet (I line with foil), pile brown sugar on each slice of bacon, and crack some fresh pepper.

Cook at 350 for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through, and adding more brown sugar.  It’s that easy.  And 20 minutes in an estimate.  I don’t even know really.  It will look like a sticky, bacony, delicious mess.  Don’t let it burn.

When you take it out, let it cool and it should be hard like CANDY.  This past brunch, I threaded the bacon on wooden skewers, it makes it easier to handle and much better presentation.

quiche.jpgI use pre-made Pillsbury pie crust.  It’s good, cheap, easy and comes in a pack of two.  For some reason, I don’t know how to make only one quiche.

Keep the pie crust frozen until you are ready to fill it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook vegetables on stovetop – this particular time I used garlic, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, and Vidalia onions.  I cooked it just until slightly soft with some olive oil and garlic, then added fresh basil, thyme, and julienned sun dried tomatoes (from a jar in oil and spices, drained).  I don’t know how much (a big handful)…

Next, spoon hot mixture evenly between two pie crusts, and then cover in shredded swiss cheese, about 1 cup each.

Next, mix 8 eggs with 3/4 cup half and half, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Whisk, and then pour evenly into each pie crust.

Finally, lightly sprinkle each pie with crumbled feta, and drop dollops of herb goat cheese (I buy the Publix brand, sold in the deli.) Yes, these pies have a lot of cheese.  I REALLY love cheese, ok!?

Cook for about 35- 40 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set but jiggles a little when you shake the pan.  I know, that is very scientific and precise.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.