entertainingfoodFood & DrinkHalloween

A Last-Minute Halloween Dinner + “Picture Perfect Parties” Cookbook Giveaway

by Maxwell Tielman


If you’re anything like me, Halloween has a tendency of sneaking up on you like Freddie Kruegar in a nightmare. One minute, you’re installing your air conditioner in May and all of the sudden —BOOM— there are trick-or-treaters at your door. I have no idea how this keeps happening to me (early-onset dementia, perhaps?), but when October 31st rolls around, I often find myself sans-costume and sans-plans. So—if Halloween (two days away, you guys!) has snuck up on you this year, but you still want to get a little festive—don’t worry, y’all! Design*Sponge gotchu covered.

Using a few simple (but insanely delicious) comfort food recipes from Annette Joseph’s new book, Picture Perfect Parties, we assembled a pretty darn impressive last-minute Halloween party with just a few household supplies. With “no-carve” pumpkins decorated with black Sharpie markers and spider-web “doilies” made from cut bits of newspaper, these are decorations and treats that can be whipped up in a day—great for a quick, festive dinner party while greeting those trick-or-treaters. Continue after the jump for all of the recipes and our quick-n-easy decoration ideas! Happy Halloween! —Max

Giveaway: Annette Joseph and the wonderful people at Rizolli have allowed us to give away 3 copies of Picture Perfect Parties! To enter to win your own copy, tell us one of your favorite Halloween decorations in the comments section below! We’ll choose our favorites! Last date for entries: 11/5/13.


Above image: Brie, Bacon, and Apricot Grilled Cheese sandwiches, from pg. 187 of Picture Perfect Parties.


Above image: White Bean Chili from pg. 188.


Above image: Devil’s Food Cupcakes from pg. 190.


Above image: We created a flower “vase” by wrapping a tin can in newspaper and drawing vertical lines on it with a black marker.


Above image: we whipped up three decorative “no carve” pumpkins by drawing designs directly onto pumpkins with black Sharpies. Spider web “doilies” were created by cutting irregular circles out of newspaper and drawing webs on them with black marker.


Above image: A fringed table skirt was made by cutting strips into a folded newspaper page and coloring in every other strip with black marker. Simply attach the “skirt” to your table edge with double-stick tape.



Serves 6


  • 1 loaf challah bread
  • 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
  • 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
  • 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich


Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut bsgb  sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature



Serves 8


  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups canned cannellini white beans
  • 2 cups canned pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons dried coriander

On the Side

  • Tortilla chips
  • Avocado
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream


In a stockpot, sauté sirloin and turkey,  with a slotted spoon remove cooked meat and set aside. Pour out any excess oil.

Place olive oil and onions, garlic into the stockpot, heat on medium and cook until translucent. Add cooked meat, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and stock, simmer for 1 hour, add beans and coriander Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado and chopped fresh cilantro tortilla chips.



Makes 36 cupcakes


  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
  • 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
  • 1 stick of butter softened
  • 6 tablespoons evaporated milk


Cake Preparation

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean cool and then frost.

Prepare Frosting

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle , cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

Suggested For You


  • My absolute favorite Halloween decorations this year are the trendy gold/silver/white painted pumpkins. Also cheesecloth draped over tables.

  • I love paper shadows of bats, ghosts, creepy things that go bump in the night. It’s simple, and allows your imagination to run wild

  • I go for the classic pumpkins and mums on our porch. I really like mixing orange, white and multi color pumpkins. Happy Halloween =)

  • I like for my Halloween decorations to have a certain moldering elegance. Black lace tablecloth, tarnished silver trays, and my new favorite –pages from discarded books printed with Gothic images. This year, I printed anatomical illustrations on dictionary pages!

  • I love thinking about my Mom’s carved pumpkins. Very old school with a candle inside. They were always made with tons of love.

  • I’m currently loving the painted pumpkin as decoration. I dipped mine in white and gold this year. Left some of the tops orange. Taking color-blocking to a whole new level. I love them!

  • I love silly simple paper chains. And food is always easy on the eyes, with lots of good food around who needs decorations.

  • Lots and lots of candles. I dig out my Grandmother’s silver candelabra (the only time it gets used these days!) and just about every other candle holder we have and set them in the front window – far from any combustibles like kids in costumes.

  • My favorite halloween decorations are these glittery skeletons I’ve had for years. They are spooky and fabulous all at the same time!

  • I love Halloween! We carve pumpkins every year and one of them always has a cat on it (I’m a HUGE cat lady), but I think my favourite decoration is the giant cardboard haunted house we made this year. It was painted black with grey or yellow and a little bit of that glow in the dark glue in the windows to make them look luminous. We put it in the front yard and borrowed a fog machine to make it look creepy.
    (I’m Canadian, so if the contest isn’t open to us then this is just a regular comment, not an entry)

  • I like to fill glass jars and vases with water and food coloring, and put labels like “cyanide” and “poison” on them. Cheap and fun.

  • You mean beside my black velvet portrait of Bat Boy from the cover of Weekly World News? Probably making giant googly eyes for the round bushes in my front yard, because everything’s better with googly eyes.

  • If there are two things I love is 1) Halloween and 2) Crafting. Halloween is always a treat for me. One of my favorite Halloween crafts is little felt pumpkins. My mom taught me to make them when I was young and now my daughter is just starting to make them with me. We usually create a ton of little pumpkins while watching halloween movies (this year we did a Harry Potter marathon). I also saw a felt pumpkin garland on pinterest, so we tried that. It looked awesome! And it transitions to Thanksgiving!:)

  • First the decorations: I love spooky looking potion bottles (bottles with faux labels filled with coloured waters) and once I did a halloween party for a store I worked in and I found this amazing spiderweb fabric that was a beautiful table cloth!

    The food: Lovely! This is my favourite combo of simple, pretty and delicious! :)

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