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Gummy-worm Jell-O, Spaghetti and Eyeballs, Pig Knuckles On Toothpicks, And Other Halloween "Treats"

By Theresa Regli

OCTOBER 27, 1997:  When can you get away with serving a dish that looks like vomit? When is spaghetti and eyeballs an appropriate menu item? And when is dessert served up by neighbors? Halloween, of course. Make the most of this ghoulish holiday by grossing out your guests with our food and beverage suggestions.

Punch. The fact that most punches are red makes it the perfect Halloween beverage (along with port -- for more wine ideas, see "Spooky spirits.") Start by making standard red punch: one part fruit punch to two parts ginger ale is usually the way to go, but adjust the measurements to your taste.

But first, get a pair of clear latex gloves and wash them well. Fill the gloves with water, tie the wrist end of each into a knot, and put them in the freezer. When they've turned to ice, carefully set them in your punch bowl. Now you have hands floating in your drink. For a more dramatic effect, add food coloring in a shade that contrasts with the red punch -- such as orange -- to the water you use to fill the gloves.

Dip. Classic vomit dip is made with three cups of cottage cheese, a packet of onion soup mix, about three tablespoons of cream, and a few drops food coloring (usually yellow, but it all depends on what shade of vomit you like). It's best to get chunky cottage cheese and not mix it too much because, well, chunky is more realistic.

Munchies. Pig knuckles on toothpicks are great with a bit of teriyaki or soy sauce, and many people will be horrified when you tell them what they're eating. Supermarkets occasionally carry them, but your best bet is to ask a butcher or supermarket meat department to special-order them for you. Another good choice is pigs-in-a-blanket, which you can make with a package of frankfurters, a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls, and an egg. Cut the hot dogs into thirds, and wrap each with a triangular piece of dough. Place on a nonstick baking pan and brush the top of each with a bit of egg. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. As your guests enjoy the food, be sure to remind them what hot dogs are really made of.

Last, one of the easiest-to-make munchies is "bloody popcorn" -- add red food coloring to melted butter and use it to coat the popped kernels.

Spaghetti and eyeballs. Make spaghetti and red sauce as you normally would. To make the "eyeballs," you'll need about a pound of ground beef, one cup of bread crumbs, one chopped onion, an egg, and about 15 to 20 pimiento-stuffed olives. Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl (it's best to use your hands), then roll medium-size meatballs, stuffing each with an olive, pimiento side out. Put the meatballs in a nonstick roasting pan and bake at a medium-high temperature until cooked through. When you add them to the pasta, be sure to arrange the dish so as many eyeballs as possible are facing up.

Jell-O. Make lime Jell-O according to package directions. After it solidifies, mash it up with a fork. Add gummy worms to the mixture for a rather, well, wormy-looking dish.

Another fun creation is Penn and Teller's bleeding Jell-O. Make Jell-O of any color according to package directions, but add about six ounces of sour cream to make the mixture more opaque and creamy. Fill a plastic bag with corn syrup and red food coloring, center it in a mold, and add the Jell-O mixture. If the plastic bag can still be seen after the mold solidifies, touch up with whipped cream. At serving time, use a huge carving knife to enhance the extra-gory effect when you slice the mold open and a pool of "blood" comes seeping out.

Dessert. How about pumpkin pie? There's nothing gross about it, but what's a fall party without pumpkin pie? Add a cup of brown sugar to two cups of pumpkin (it's best to use fresh-mashed pumpkin, but canned will do) and whip in two eggs, two tablespoons of melted butter, a cup of cream, and cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

If that sounds like too much trouble, you can always direct your guests to put on their masks, grab a plastic bag, and start ringing doorbells.

There are dozens of concoctions you can cook up for Halloween, and there's a great online recipe archive to prove it. For more ghoulishly tasty ideas, log on to http://soar.berkeley.edu/recipes/holiday/halloween/.

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