Something’s afoot!

We’ve got at least one fire truck in the area and guys with flashlights looking for something. Two just went into our basement saying something about a boiler, an old gas line, and my building’s “heck of a chimney.”

Wonder what’s going on?

ETA: Well, it looks like the trucks and ambulances are gone, but there are still guys with flashlights talking about the boiler. Oh, sounds like someone smelled wood smoke, saw steam coming out of our building, and thought the building was on fire. Now they’re discussing bringing “the gas guy” out. Hmm, “something’s going on,” someone’s said…

ETA2: Not sure why it took them so long to come over here if this is where they thought the fire was – all the vehicles were at the end of the block at first.

ETA3: That seems to be that – apparently nothing that needed following up on. Back to sleep for me!

New TV: Sunday

Once Upon a Time (7:00-8:00 CST, ABC)

At first I was annoyed by Snow White and Prince Charming, but now that we’ve set everything up, I’m hooked! I wasn’t a huge fan of Cameron on House, but I’m liking Jennifer Morrison’s character here and I’m interested to see which character knows what and how things are going to come together and what’s going to happen as they gradually figure out who they are. I thought I was going to like Grimm better, but now I’m not so sure….

October movies!

Oddly enough, I do like a good political thriller. I do, less oddly enough, reeeeeallly like George Clooney. I don’t like Ryan Gosling. I did like The Ides of March. It walks the line of falling into cliche and bad decisions, but ends up going the much more interesting route. To be fair, Ryan Gosling’s character tries to do the cliche (and stupid) thing, but circumstances, and a very clever Paul Giamatti, don’t allow him to. I don’t want to give things away, but basically mistakes are made and loyalties are questioned and morals are weighed against the greater good and to see the campaign game at work is all very interesting.

New TV: Friday

Chuck (7-8 CST, NBC)

It’s the last season of Chuck! I’m afraid I’m still behind, somewhere in season 4, but Claire is not the lazy fan that I am and emailed me yesterday about the first episode:

Eh, it was OK. Zac looks handsome, but the whole twist from the end of the last season (which I won’t spoil for you), kind of made it a bit disappointing so far. But I have a feeling it will pick up. If nothing else, it’s good to look at Zac – LOL!

I have confidence they’ll turn it around and go out on a high note.

Happy Halloweeeeeen!

All right! After a brief delay due to technical difficulties and a migraine (WHAT?!), it’s time to post, post, post about my party! First up? The decor!

I gutted these on Saturday to roast the pumpkin seeds and then started carved one on Tuesday (kitty-bat), one on Wednesday (Grim Reaper), and the last on Friday (cute ghosts). Two of them were moldy and sunken by Saturday. Hopefully it only added to the ambience!

Next. The costumes! We had a flapper and a gangster, Katy Perry and Kitty Purry, John Denver, Kermit the Frog, Lady GaGa, Jem (side note: I was Jem when I was in…3rd grade?), the Green Lantern, a copy cat, and a Real Housewife of Tennis.

Then there were Jell-O shots, courtesy of the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen (you can also find recipes up on their website). Apart from GaGa, though, who was definitely doing his darnedest to make sure I didn’t have leftover shots, these weren’t a big hit – they tasted good (especially the Fuzzy Navels [aka Moldy Bellybuttons]), but people stuck with more traditional drinks. So unfortunately that meant throwing away a lot of Kamikaze Eyeballs and Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey 75‘s.

And then? The food!

Top left to right, there were *deep breath* Salted Brown Boo-tter Rice Crispy Treats; Chocolate Snake Cheesecake With Venom Glaze; Spooky Sweet Potato Samosaah! Pops; Roasted and Salted Pumpkin Children, Orange-Rosemary Betwitched Nuts, and Cilantro S’Lime Peanuts; Sugar Creepies; Vampire Pizza Bites; Poison Apple Cupcakes; Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Butter Ooze; and Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple-Marshmallow S’Cream Frosting. Not pictured are Murky Maple Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup; Yeast Coffins; Robot Devil’d Eggs; Vlad’s Caprese Skewers; and Ghoulish Goat Cheese Squares With Spine-Tingling Raspberry Chile Chutney.

Whew! It was literally a week’s-worth of cooking and baking and carving, but it was worth it. I had quite a bit of leftover food, but everyone seemed to enjoy it! After this, though, it’s potlucks. 😉

ETA: I realized I posted this in such a hurry that I didn’t even really discuss the food, so I’ll remedy that now!First the sweets:

  • The salted brown butter rice crispy treats are simple and yummy – my mom said she could taste the difference the brown butter made, though I couldn’t. Working with the food coloring was a bit of a trial – I realize now that I should have colored the butter and marshmallow mixture before adding the cereal because stirring the rice crispies (especially as the marshmallow starts to cool) is…difficult. It’s also a little tricky to spread once you’ve got that first layer in, but stick with it and it eventually will come together. I got the idea to do the black and orange Halloween layers from this – I will never have the patience to do that rainbow one (though it’s certainly a nice effect).
  • I found the chocolate cheesecake to be on the soft side and also quite too rich for me, though, others seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. Note: Martha doesn’t specifically say to butter the bottom of the springform pan, so I didn’t, thinking there was enough butter in the cookie crust recipe that it wouldn’t need it. It does. Also, I should explain for those of you who didn’t click the link to Martha’s website – there’s supposed to be a snake stenciled on the top of it, hence the name. I couldn’t find powdered food coloring, so I tried sanding sugar which clearly did not work.
  • Kate liked the apple cupcakes, but they were definitely not a favorite of mine (though I admit this could be because I only managed to eat one several days after the party). The consistency of the cupcake with the chopped apple wasn’t for me and the dulce de leche had just sort of soaked into the cake instead of being a filling. That may be my fault – I cooked the dulce de leche for 3 and a half hours, but I see now I should have gone for at least four so it would have been firmer – maybe firm enough to stand up on its own with the cupcake.
  • The pumpkin cookies were good, but I think I didn’t brown my butter enough for the frosting – it just didn’t have much flavor.
  • The mini pumpkin cupcakes with what was originally intended as whoopie pie filling were good – I think people liked that they were just bite sized and easy to eat.

Oddly enough, it was the savories that went the fastest:

  • Oh, sweet potato samosa pops. These bastards nearly killed me. I doubled the recipe. MISTAKE! The filling just never ended – I ended up throwing out probably half of it because after I’d made twice the amount of pops the single recipe called for, I still had a huge amount of filling staring back at me. No matter how many teaspoons I scooped out of there, it never seemed to diminish! So don’t let the size of one sweet potato fool you – it will be enough. (Vegan)
  • The salted and roasted pumpkin seeds ended up being not crunchy enough for me – I should have roasted them longer, even though I did surpass the time called for in the recipe.
  • The orange-rosemary buttered mixed nuts are amazing and really so super simple, so if you’re looking to impress with not much effort, this should be your new go-to recipe.
  • The cilantro-lime peanut recipe actually calls for raw peanuts which are impossible to find in the market (at least around here they are). I went with roasted, unsalted peanuts, but I think maybe the roasting makes them particularly resistant to flavoring because I couldn’t really taste the cilantro or the lime here.
  • The maple garlic cauliflower soup was also a hit – only one bowl-full left at the end of the night. And it was super easy to make, too! I actually made it a week in advance and froze it. Alas, I didn’t take it out of the freezer early enough and there was much swearing and hacking at it in an attempt to get it into the slow cooker to thaw and keep warm for everyone. The yeast coffins were hot rolls – from a box as always.
  • People love deviled eggs. I thought it was just me!
  • They also love caprese salad on toothpicks. Can’t say I blame them!
  • The goat cheese squares with raspberry chile chutney were also popular, though I was afraid that the chutney would be too spicy for people – there’s an entire chipotle chile in adobo sauce in there (the chutney cooks for three hours and the chile just ends up disintegrating. A warning about the chutney – it WILL make your house smell of vinegar. Quite strongly. For three hours. Plus.

So there you have it!

Silly kitty!

I had my housewarming/Halloween party last night (yes, I know it took me three years to finally have a housewarming party), so the previous week has been filled with cooking, baking, decorating, and all the other things that go into planning a party. And of course, no matter how well I scheduled and planned and worked ahead, the day of the party counted down into a bit of a rush. My mom came over and cleaned and helped me make a few last minute food items while Heather put final touches on the decorations.

Josephine volunteered to deejay.