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Easy changes for Halloween won’t ‘bug’ you

When you consider that Halloween usually consists of people wandering about outdoors wearing masks, this year might be less different than we anticipate. However, since conventional trick or treating isn’t on the agenda, here are some ideas to make the most of the “quarantine-o-ween.”

Look for outdoor events organized with safety in mind. Be sure to bring supplies you’ll need such as hand sanitizer and extra masks. Keep contact to a minimum and sanitize your treats when you get home.

If you’re giving goodies at a trunk or treat or other Halloween event where you don’t personally know the recipient, be sure to give candy wrapped in the manufacturer’s original packaging. And preportion individual servings as this keeps little ghouls and boys from digging their little hands into the candy bowl.

Alternatively, you can stay home and enjoy a virtual Halloween. Plan online video chats with friends and family to show off costumes and decorations. You could arrange to enjoy a meal, tell scary stories, have a dance contest or even carve pumpkins “together.” For adults, the cool part about this scenario is you’re all home so no one is driving. This year you can imbibe some Halloween spirits while you eat, drink and be scary.

Plan a spooky movie night. Pop the popcorn, plump the pillows and gather the family to enjoy a marathon of Halloween themed movies. Alternatively, you could set up a projector in the yard and invite friends and neighbors to bring lawn chairs or blankets and share the movie, at an appropriate distance, of course.

Deliver “scare packages” to friends and neighbors filled with Halloween-themed treats. Ordinarily, I’d suggest doing it anonymously but this year for comfort’s sake, we need to know who’s supplying the boos. This is where you can share some stellar homemade goodies along with other treats.

Here’s an idea for delightfully dreadful cookies so simple I can’t bring myself to call it a recipe. So, we’ll call it a “technique.” In this technique we bake some sugar cookies. Use your favorite family recipe or buy a tube of ready-to-bake cookie dough. When they come out of the oven, we squish some toy bugs into them to make an imprint that will stay as the cookies cool and harden.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it’s a riff on an old Martha Stewart recipe for Fossil Cookies. So, hats off to Martha. Of course, Martha’s look like they’re actually made of stone and I’ll bet she didn’t find her bugs at the dollar store. But I did and everyone loves these cookies.

A word about the bugs: Be sure to thoroughly wash the bugs prior to using them on food. I also recommend you purchase new bugs for this purpose, no matter how tempting it may be to scrounge around the kiddie’s rooms looking for the bugs you bought last year. Also, some bugs make better impressions than others. I found centipedes, spiders and cockroaches worked beautifully. (Now, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

This Halloween may look different from years past, but that doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy it. In fact, this year may start new traditions we’ll enjoy for years to come. You can still be the ghostess hostess with the mostest; you’ll just have to get creative and adjust to accommodate our current situation. Happy Halloween!

CREEPY CRAWLY COOKIES

What you’ll need:

Sugar cookie dough, store bought or homemade

Plastic bugs

Here’s how:

Prepare the cookie dough according to your recipe or package directions. Be sure to portion the dough so the cookies are large enough to accommodate your plastic bugs after baking. Bake cookies according to your recipe or package directions.

For the next step, you’ll need to work quickly and use caution due to hot cookies and cookie sheets. When the cookies come out of the oven, give them only a moment or two to barely cool before you press the bugs into the surface of the warm cookies. Don’t be afraid to really press them in there. Use a toothpick to press details like legs and antennae. Carefully remove the bugs and allow the cookies to cool on the sheet until firm, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Repeat with remaining cookies.

If you wish to give these cookies away, you can package them with chocolate kisses and label them “bugs and kisses” or attach a bag of cookies to a jug of apple cider and label them “spiders and cider.”

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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