Sunday, October 25, 2009

1st Annual BYOP

1st Annual BYOP Pumkin Carving Party

For many years, I have expressed desire to host a Halloween party. Not necessarily a costume party, but one celebrating the fun of fall - what better way to celebrate than with warm comfort food and pumpkin carving. The first year we had our own house, we had just moved into the house the month before and it felt like the house wouldn't be inviting. Last year, Halloween just snuck up on us and we couldn't pull it off. And this year, I almost let a vacation and overall social situation hesitance postpone it for another year, but Mike pushed me into sending out the invites and therefore planning the party.

Halloween Cookies
Project #35 in '50 in 2009 Challenge'

What I was most excited about was a reason to cook the first real batch of Autumn comfort food of the season. And...tackling cookie decorating for a second time - especially after running across this blog post of tips from Sweetopia! Let me tell you, these turned out to be some of the best homemade cookies I've made, I even approved of their taste, and I am very much a lover of processed, perservative-filled cookies (I'll take break-n-bakes over homemade any day). It's strange because I've very much gotten out of the habit of using a lot of convenience foods, even things like taco seasoning, but when it comes to cookies, I have very particular tastes. Usually when I make cookies - yes, I still attempt to make cookies because normal people tend to like homemade cookies - I have a token sample, but the rest typically are left for Mike or visitors. Martha Stewart did me good (her Cookie Book - Cut Out Sugar Cookies) and I must say I've enjoyed a few of these in the past few days.

Anyways, I was excited to finally have a reason to use the Halloween cookie cutters I got a couple years ago, so I went all out. Searching for a recipe, looking up icing tips & trick, buying a rainbow pack of icing dye gel and then devoting several days to these cookies. I'm very happy with the results - especially when looking back on my first attempt (mistake #1: using store bought tubes of icing) - but I hope to try again soon as I suspect my icing needed more water so it could actually flood and I wouldn't need to smear. All in all, I decorated about 3 dozen Frankensteins, cats, bats and pumpkins, but was a fun-filled Friday night of listening to NPR well into the evening hours.

Besides the cookies, I made chili and corn bread; munchies like puppy chow, pumpkin seeds & buffalo chicken dip; a hot apple rum (as the signature drink); and savory hand pies, using my new apple & pumpkin hand pie molds from Williams-Sonoma, stuffed with sauage, feta, spinach, onion & mushrooms or potatoes, onion, bell peppers & cheddar. I'm going to have to think of a way to incorporate the hand pies into our next gathering, Thanksgiving, because they were really fun to make and delicious. It actually has me thinking that it may be a good idea to make some and freeze them already baked for easy lunches, so I won't need to rely on Hot Pockets so much.

Mine, the winner & Mike's
My Jack Skellington, the winning pumpkin & Mike's Rod Blagojevich's Hair

Besides the food, you know, there was an actual party with people going on and I think it went well. At first, it looked like it might only be Mike & I, another couple and a friend from Mike's work, but by the end of the night we had 13 people there for the duration, plus another 3 drop in later on in the night. And the best part was everyone (who was there for the duration) participated in pumpkin carving despite comments coming in such as fear of pumpkins (several people seriously expressed being creeped out by pumpkins) and thinking that pumpkin carving sounds like something women would be in to! I was so surprised that everyone was participating that though I was prepared with a special trophy, I hadn't thought through how we would actually give it away. Seriously I thought there may have only been a couple other people besides Mike & I that would have pumpkins. I'm glad everyone "let loose" and got into it because it was neat to see all the pumpkins lit up together. Kinda like our very own Jack-O-Latern Spectacular which was nice since I've managed to miss it the last two years. We ended up really lucking out weather-wise, too. The area's been plagued with lots of rain and cold lately, but the rain held off until about an hour after everyone went home at midnight and though it was chilly, it wasn't cold enough that with jackets and a little fire & hot apple rum, we couldn't stay outside for the whole party (double bonus for us because it means besides the kitchen, our cleaned house stayed clean - yay!).

I'm already thinking about next year, and planning a trip to the party store on November 1 in hopes of picking up some more of the trophies on sale. Hee hee.


M said...

sounds like it was terrific...cookies looked great and the line of pumpkins was inspiring. Rod Blago hair? No wonder Nibs ate it!

Lisa @celebrate CREATIVITY said...

Fantastic looking pumpkin family. Great photo and the cookies look fun too. Nice post and a pleasure to read.