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Whether Your Halloween Fun is Homemade or Store-bought, Make This Year the Scariest Ever
by: ARA
(ARA) - Halloween is a great time of year to let your imagination run wild. For some, the challenge of putting together a great costume, decorating for a party, or serving child-friendly or grown-up treats is what makes Halloween fun. So whether you head to the store to put together your Halloween festivity, or do it yourself -- from costume, to decorations to food -- here are a few helpful ideas to make this year’s fun a real scream.

For costumes this Halloween, anything related to movie themes is hot. According to Tom Mautino, assistant manager of Costume World in Pittsburgh, Pa., the adults are favoring costumes inspired by the movie “Chicago.” "A lot of our adult customers are renting, and buying, gangster costumes for guys and flapper attire for women," said Mautino. He added that other big movies inspiring costumes are Daredevil and Pirates of the Caribbean.

And for the youngsters? "Kids are more into the Hulk and of course SpiderMan is still a big hit," he said. "Storybook characters are always huge. The 60s are back too. And don't forget about Elvis!" He added that another always "in" costume is anything with animal print such as leopard.

But if you don’t like the mass-market approach to Halloween costumes, try making your own. Here are a few simple ideas for the grown-ups from Kathleen Brockman, graphic design instructor with The Art Institute of Charlotte.

* Dress in brown head to toe, use eyeliner or shadow to totally blacken one eye, cut a large "P" out of construction paper and pin it to your chest: You're a black-eyed-pea.

* Alternatively, dress in green, pin a small "P" to your chest, use a British accent, and you're an English Pea.

* Wear an evening gown, lots of jewelry, a crown (Burger King crowns are great), use black eyeliner or eye shadow to draw stitches all the way around your neck: You're Marie Antoinette.

* Put a white bag over your body and stuff it with paper, color a big yellow circle on your chest, wear horns and carry a pitchfork: You're a deviled egg.

* Dress in white, wear a Burger King crown, put heart stickers all over your clothes and go to the party as the Queen (or King) of Hearts.

* Wear a white shirt and black pants and a Burger King crown, pin a big black construction paper "check" mark to your chest: You're a Royalty Check.

To set a perfectly spooky mood around your home -- for trick or treaters or a Halloween get-together -- Jack Beduhn, academic director of Interior Design at The Art Institute of California, San Diego, recommends using the common technique of “up-lighting” around your house to welcome the little ghosts and goblins.

"A simple lighting scheme should only take a few hours to position. Inexpensive, low-voltage spot lighting is available at most hardware stores," said Beduhn. "Adding some simple lighting can add eye-catching glows and eerie shadows around decorations you already have out."

Now that you’ve got the scary house and costume, it’s time for a treat. According to Chef Toni L. D’Onofrio, of The Art Institute of New York City, this clever Halloween menu uses colors and treats of the season in a more adult way. For example, for starters, Chef D’Onofrio has created a pumpkin and caramel soup, lightly sweet and rich. The midcourse salad, says the chef “plays off the traditional colors of candy corn, orange, white and yellow.” And finally, cocoa braised veal shanks show off the complexity and richness of chocolate without being sweet.

Pumpkin and Caramel Soup

Yield 4 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1 clove of garlic chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of pumpkin puree

1-1/4 cups of water

Salt and pepper

Start by sautéing with medium heat the onion, garlic and ginger in oil until the onions and garlic are soft. Add in the sugar, water and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and starts to brown (caramelize); add in the heavy cream, pumpkin, and water. Simmer about 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped toasted walnuts.

Candy Corn Colored Salad with Smoked Salmon, Endive and Corn Vinaigrette

Yield 4 servings

To make the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup of corn (off the cob or frozen defrosted)

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme

Salt and pepper

Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to lightly sauté the corn, some browning is desirable. Allow the corn mixture to cool. Using a hand blender or food processor, place the corn, water and vinegar together. Puree and slowly add in the oil, tasting along the way to see if it is too acidic (flavor will vary with the corn used). Add oil until balanced. Finish with chopped thyme, salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad

1 pound of cleaned arugula

1 endive, bottom removed, and cut lengthwise into long strips

1/2 pound of sliced smoked salmon

Corn Vinaigrette

Place the smoked salmon on the bottom of the plate, leaving the center of the plate empty. Combine the arugula, endive and vinaigrette in a bowl and place in the center of each plate. Garnish with chives if desired.

Cocoa Dusted Braised Veal Shanks

Yield 4 portions

To make the dusting powder:

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoon flour

Combine all the ingredients together.

To prepare the dish:

4 veal shanks tied

vegetable oil

1 onion, medium dice

5 cloves of garlic cut into slivers

3/4 pounds of cut carrots or baby carrots

2 12 ounce cans of beef broth

Salt and pepper

Take each veal shank and dust it on both sides with the cocoa dusting powder. Save the excess mixture. Sear each shank in vegetable oil in a sauté pan; do not use heat higher than medium or the cocoa will burn. Remove the shanks when seared and place in a roasting pan. Add in more oil if needed and cook the onions, carrots and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining dusting mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add the beef broth into the pan and stir to combine ingredients. Pour the mixture over the shanks and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Cook at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Remove shanks and serve with sauce and vegetables.

D’Onofrio serves this dish with spaetzle but almost any starch will do.

Recipes courtesy of Chef Toni D’Onofrio, The Art Institute of New York City

The Art Institutes system of 29 education institutions is located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals. The Art Institutes system of schools has provided career-oriented education programs for 40 years with more than 140,000 graduates. For more information visit The Art Institutes Web site at

Courtesy of ARA Content

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