Craft Your Own Halloween Party
In this week's TCDIY, Carly shares photos of her Halloween party decor and offers two cozy soup recipes for your pleasure.
Halloween recently became one of my favorite holidays, and this fact is most likely due to my fascination with the cornucopia of activities attached to the fall season. You’ve got your pumpkin patches, corn mazes, caramel apple sundaes, goats, gourds, cheesecloth ghosts and more! What else do you need really? There are also endless crafting and decorating opportunities for the holiday, especially if you take a few tips from Martha.
This will be the third year that I’ve thrown a Halloween party. Year One was spent with a few close friends in my tiny studio apartment, which was completely covered in cobwebs. I was the log lady from Twin Peaks. Year Two expanded in the amount of guests and space; we had breakfast for dinner. My brother, boyfriend and I were the ultimate DIY Angry Birds. And as I write this column the day before our “Year Three” party, I still don’t have a costume, but I am confident that a quick trip to Goodwill is all a gal needs.
My favorite part of the Halloween decor this year is our entryway. I created a simple “BOO!” pennant banner, suspended my cheesecloth ghost and hung up my snake wreath that I made for my very first spooky party. As you walk inside, you’re confronted by the creepiest of spiders, dangling right in front of your nose. As you continue under a few cobweb clusters, you’ll find the rather cute and not-so-scary table setting of gourds, candles, fake beetles and snacks. On the other side of the room I created “moth-eaten” curtains out of cheesecloth with a bunch of those cheap spider rings clinging onto the fabric.
I also leaned on Martha for her hanging bat template and scattered a few of the creatures around the apartment. Probably the scariest part of the decor was in our second bedroom, which my brother turned into a haunted maze/path. We used black trash bags and some string to create our partition. Just cut open the trash bag so they lay out like a large, flat rectangle. We added a few obstructions along the way, a strobe light to make everything a little scarier, a little Scott Walker (musician, not politician) playing in the background and our homemade version of a possessed child.
The other homemade projects for the evening were heaping pots of butternut squash soup and vegetarian chili. I try to live by the DIY mentality, especially when it comes to cooking. I don’t pretend to make my own chicken stock from scratch but I do try to utilize my farmer’s markets for the freshest ingredients whenever possible. Plus their produce is usually cheaper and much more scrumptious.
I like to do a little online research and then combine a few different recipes into my own unique version. I learned from my dear friend Jenny (my veggie chili recipe inspiration) that it’s okay to mix things up and try new ingredients with each batch.
So today, instead of a craft tutorial, I leave you with my two new favorite soup recipes to keep you nice and cozy. Happy Halloweenie!
1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 T ginger (minced)—I love ginger, so I add a little more for an extra kick
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
4 c. chicken stock
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil (divided)
Add your cubed squash and carrots to a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle 1 T olive oil over the squash and carrots and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender and slightly browned.
Meanwhile, heat 1 T. olive oil in a dutch oven and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add the squash and carrots to the dutch oven. Add chicken stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then take off the heat to cool.
Transfer mixture to blender in batches and puree. Add the soup back to your dutch oven, reheat and taste. I usually end up adding more salt and cinnamon at this point. Serve with toasty bread!
Jenny’s Veggie Chili
2 T. olive oil
1/2 red onion (roughly chopped)
1/2 yellow onion (roughly chopped)
2 T. shallot (minced)
3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded)
1 c. carrots (chopped)
1 oz. can tomato sauce
1 oz. can chopped or whole plum tomatoes
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 cans kidney beans (rinsed)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
Heat 2 T. olive oil in dutch oven and cook onions until translucent. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add red and green peppers, jalapeno and carrots and cook until just tender (7-8 minutes). Add tomato sauce and tomatoes. Fill up one empty can twice with water and add to mixture. This will make the soup look thin, but it will eventually cook down and thicken up.
Add beans and seasonings and bring to a boil. Cook on the stove on medium heat for as long as you can stand it or until the soup starts to thicken (40 minutes-1 hour). I made mine the day before the party and reheated it a couple hours before serving. Improvise and enjoy!