I made two fun dips for a recent Halloween party. One was a traditional recipe I make for our Christmas Eve buffet every year. I modified it slightly and it became a Bloody Brain Dip. From a festive Christmas red to a bloody Halloween brain, it worked well.
The second dip will be one that is also a traditional recipe. I’ve made guacamole so often I have the recipe mostly memorized. I just served it up in a new way for the party. It was so good it made the pumpkin puke. We’ll discuss the brains of the matter first.
My mother used to make Seafood Dip for Christmas Eve and I’ve continued the tradition with my own family. The kids look forward to it, crave it actually. It’s so simply made we could make it any night of the week, but we save it for the holidays. It’s made with artificial crab and I think I like it best on Wheat Thins. Other family members prefer it on a Triscuit. I usually serve it with both crackers.
I start with two 8 ounce bricks of cream cheese at room temperature. Yes, it needs to be room temp but often I’m impatient and will heat it in 20 second increments in the microwave to soften it up a bit. I often forget to plan ahead on the cream cheese thing. Microwaving works, we just don’t want it to be very warm and melted.
Using a hand mixer, I beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Then I added the Worcestershire and cream and mixed it again. When thoroughly mixed, I lined a Tupperware bowl with plastic wrap, then emptied the cream cheese mixture into the bowl, smoothing it flat on top. Into the refrigerator it went to firm up overnight.
For Christmas I simply store it in the container I mixed it in and spread it out on a platter the next day. For Halloween I made a bowl shape to begin its metamorphosis into a brain.
The next day I chopped up about 12 ounces (or a similar amount, depending on how it is packaged where you live) of artificial crab. A little more or less isn’t going to matter. It also doesn’t matter if it’s in log or chunk form; you’ll be chopping it anyway.
The cocktail sauce is the final step. I’ve made the seafood dip for so many years and bought so many jars of cocktail sauce, somewhere along the way I decided to figure out how to make it myself. It was ridiculously easy, and saved money as an unexpected benefit.
2 cups ketchup
¼ cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon horseradish (the ground kind, not the sauce kind)
Mix together and store in a container in the fridge until used.
I mixed the cocktail sauce with the artificial crab, reserving about one cup of each. I spread it onto the sides of a plastic lined Tupperware bowl larger than the one that held the cream cheese. Then I simply unmolded the cream cheese and tucked it into the larger bowl.
I spread the reserved cocktail sauce on top, then the crab, pressing it in. I put a decorative serving plate on top of the bowl, flipped it, and removed the bowl and plastic. Bloody brains! It was adorable. I served a bowl of crackers next to it and the brains were devoured.
The second dip was my standard guacamole. I will list the usual recipe, but when I made it for Halloween I doubled it. The picture will show about ¾ of the batch I made, spewing from the jack o lantern’s mouth.
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup green onion; chopped
1/4 cup tomato; diced
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 can diced green chilies
2 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt; to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground horseradish (not creamed)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne; or to taste (I use a pinch)
Peel avocados and mash with fork or potato masher, or process in blender until mostly smooth.
Stir in lime juice well. Add rest of ingredients and stir well.
Store in refrigerator tightly covered at least 2 hours before eating.
Lasts about 5 days in the fridge.
Approx 2 cups
I like to leave the avocados a little chunky. I always have ground horseradish on hand for this and for the cocktail sauce in the crab dip. Gives it a special bite. Use the ground kind, not the smooth sauce. I don’t always have fresh tomatoes on hand to add to it, but I do usually have chunky salsa which is a good substitute.
The end result is not always a bright green. It is more of an olive drab after adding salsa, etc. This is the real color of avocado dip! And a good color for jack o lantern vomit. Snicker.
I was lazy and asked my son to carve the pumpkin for me. He’d done them before and did a great job of getting the mouth in the right shape. I set the pumpkin on one end of a long plate, then added the guacamole. Granddaughter Bella was coaching me, and said we needed some inside the mouth too. It did end up looking pretty realistic! As far as puking pumpkins go, that is.
Again, I placed a second bowl nearby, this time filled with tortilla chips, and it was devoured. The dips were a great accompaniment to the chili cheese dogs. The party food was all fairly easy, prepared ahead of time to reduce stress, and was simple foods prepared in unique and fun ways. The measure of success would be that there were very few leftovers. That’s a success!