College Kitchen: Horror d’oeuvres

Equip your Halloween party with the right snacks.

Homemade peanut butter cups, an easy and delicious Halloween dessert treat to make.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Homemade peanut butter cups, an easy and delicious Halloween dessert treat to make.

Alexander Brodsky

There’s only one reason anybody actually goes to parties: the promise of free food. The world’s leading party scientists have proven that a rager’s coolness is directly correlated with the amount of snacks on display. That’s why Jay Z always makes sure to have plenty of Bugles at any of his exclusive nightclub parties.

Halloween provides a perfect opportunity to step up your party snack game. Sure, you could settle for store-bought candies and treats and your guests would be pretty happy. Or you could blow their minds with your handcrafted goodies. You make the call.

 

Homemade peanut butter cups

Play out this scenario in your brain: You roll up to the coolest Halloween party in town, thrown by the captain of your high school football team. You open up the door and BOOM: record scratch, silence. All eyes are on you and your too-clever costume. Out of nowhere, you whip out a pan of these bad boys. Music starts up, people start dancing. Party’s back on.

8 ounces chocolate chips
4 ounces smooth peanut butter — the trashier, the better
2 ounces sugar

Melt the chocolate chips in a sauce pan over very low heat. Stir constantly as it melts. It should only take a minute.

Add the sugar to the peanut butter until entirely incorporated. Alter the ratio if you find the mixture too sweet or not sweet enough.

In a non-stick muffin tin or in muffin cups, layer the chocolate and the peanut butter. You know the order. Let it freeze for about an hour before eating.

 

Straight-up dirt cake

Dirt is a gross thing to eat. Halloween, though, is a day when people like gross things. If you’re really dedicated, put this in actual flower pots rather than a baking pan.

1 package gummy worms
16 ounces Oreos, coarsely chopped
12 ounces Cool Whip
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
2 3.5-ounce packages of instant chocolate pudding mix
8 ounces cream cheese

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cream cheese, butter, pudding mix, milk and Cool Whip.

Starting with the chopped Oreos, alternatively layer the Cool Whip mixture and the Oreos until you run out of ingredients. Top with the gummy worms for the full dirt effect.

 

Rat meatballs with bloody tomato risotto

I’m not going to lie to you: These meatballs are more adorable than scary. Unless you tell people they’re made of actual rat meat, you’re really not going to spook anyone. Think of this as more of a formal Halloween dinner.

If you’re completely devoid of whimsy, technically you don’t have to make these meatballs into rats. Just enjoy your life of boring, rat-free food.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Uncooked spaghetti
Frozen peas
1 carrot, cut into thin rounds

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, dried parsley, salt and pepper. Using your hands, lightly mix the ingredients together. Don’t overwork the meat or else the meatballs won’t stay together. Form egg-shaped balls with the mixture and set aside.

In a skillet, brown the meatballs on all sides in olive oil, about three minutes per side.

Make tails and whiskers with uncooked spaghetti, ears with the chopped carrots and eyes with the frozen peas. Serve on top of the risotto.

1 cup short-grain rice
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Add the uncooked rice to the skillet and mix until entirely coated.

Pour in about half of the canned tomatoes (along with their juice) as well as a cup of the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let simmer.

Gradually, as the mixture absorbs the liquid, add in more of the tomatoes and water, stirring the entire time. The rice should take around 25 minutes total to cook.

Risotto is all about texture, so tasting the rice often is key. Ideally, the finished product will be creamy but with some resistance to the bite. Perfecting the dish takes a good deal of practice, but when you’ve got it down, it works as a convenient and versatile side dish.

When the rice is almost tender, mix in the spinach and butter. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.