Halloween parties incomplete without monster menus

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Sipping from a punch bowl filled with shrunken heads or munching nonchalantly on a skull marks the best kind of Halloween shindig.

Since parties like that are pretty rare, dig deep into your evil creativity and throw one.

First, you’ll need a menu. A quick Google search for Halloween food will raise not only your expectations, but also the hair on the back of your neck. 

My menu consisted of the following: Twinkies disguised as red-eyed rats, apples that look like shrunken heads floating in cider, and a cheese ball that looks like a flayed head.

Yes! Finally a menu worthy of Halloween.

There’s more than that list, but that’s a good place to start.

The rats are a fun and adventurous treat. You’ll need Twinkies, Red Hots candies, chocolate or black licorice, chocolate frosting, shaved coconut, black food coloring and paper cupcake liners.

Be careful with the Twinkies because the bottoms are really sticky. It’s easiest to put them on the cupcake liners immediately after unwrapping them.

Take a Twinkie and shave down one side so it is pointy. That will be the snout. Be careful not to cut close enough to hit the cream because that makes them harder to frost. After you frost them, mix your coconut in the food coloring to make a sort of edible fur that you pat on the rats. Try not to leave any bald spots.

After you’ve given them Red Hots eyes, cut the licorice to make a tail and ears. When you arrange them on a platter or plate, these make a menacing little rat army.

Next on the list is cider, or more specifically, the shrunken heads that will float in the cider.

Take four large apples, slice them in half and peel them. This gives you eight little heads. Then start carving little faces in them. It’s a lot easier than carving pumpkins or watermelons, and the results are just as fun. For a spooky touch, make all the faces grumpy or angry.

Dip the heads in a mixture of salt and lemon juice while the oven warms to 250 degrees. They take a long time to bake—90 minutes—and come out soft and dry. They look fun, and they do actually float in the cider. 

Finally, the masterpiece: the cheese ball. This one is the most difficult.

If you doubt your ability to mold something into a realistic skull shape, get a decorative life-sized skull from Walmart (they’re also available at Target). Shroud the skull in plastic food wrap to protect the food because the skull is not meant for culinary use. 

Mix Swiss, sharp and cream cheese with sour cream, bacon, pecans, onions, roasted Anaheim peppers, garlic and a variety of spices. It is challenging to mold the mixture onto the skull, but it can be done. Use a spoon to sort of smear it on.

Make it especially thick around the eyes so it will be easier to make eye holes deep enough to hold eyeballs. Pick up a nice set of inedible sticky eyeballs at Target.

After the eyeballs stay in the head, take slices of ham and layer it over the cheese to look like muscle, as if all the skull’s skin has been stripped away.  

Judging by the gagging noises emanating from my roommates, it was fairly realistic.     

It’s easy to come up with unique and original Halloween snacks. Take the time this Halloween to play with your food.