Thursday, November 01, 2007

A trifle scary

We do not forbid Halloween observance in the Treehouse. We don't make a huge honkin' deal out of it either, but we have some fun with the parts you can have fun with. Last night our menu included a Treehouse-designed Halloween Trifle, and the Squirrelings reverse-trick-or-treated the grandmotherly lady next door with some afterwards (because it made kind of a lot).

Halloween Trifle

1 9-inch chocolate cake (we had one in the freezer, half of a mix that we had baked up and saved for such times as this)--cut up in cubes

1 package of instant vanilla pudding, plus either orange or red-plus-yellow food colouring
Milk or powdered milk to make up the pudding

1 small can mandarin oranges (save the juice to add to the pudding)
1 real orange, peeled and sliced thin (not necessary but we had only one can of oranges; if I'd had two cans I probably would have left it out)
The grated peel of the real orange

1 cup of whipping cream, 3 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp vanilla (or equivalent other topping)
Part of a chocolate bar, grated (or chocolate chips)
A few dried cranberries (just to add colour on top)

This is what we did:

Ponytails cut the cake into cubes and put half of them into a large glass bowl. (We do have a proper trifle bowl, but since this was family-sized rather than party-sized, we used a big glass salad bowl instead.)

Mama Squirrel used the drained mandarin orange juice plus another cup of milk to make up the vanilla pudding. Actually Crayons mixed it up. We added grated orange peel for flavour and some colouring to make it orange.

Ponytails added a layer of the cut-up orange and mandarin oranges (reserving about half a cupful for decoration), and then a layer of just-mixed pudding; then another layer each of cake and pudding. (I forget whether we had enough oranges for another layer).

Mama Squirrel put the whipping attachment on the food processor and beat up the cream, sugar and vanilla. She spread the whipped cream over the top of the trifle and let it all sit in the fridge while we did other things.

A little while later we gave the top a hefty sprinkling of grated chocolate (just a regular brand of dark chocolate bar) and arranged the leftover oranges and a few dried cranberries as artistically as we could. We had debated doing the top with oranges and pineapple rings to look like a jack-o-lantern face, but chocolate won out.

Also on the menu last night: Chicken chili, three-cheese dip with carrot and rutabaga sticks, and a package of garlic breadsticks. Mama Squirrel finally got to make a jack-o-lantern face, on the bowl of dip, with pumpkin seeds (the shelled green ones you can eat as is) and a celery stem. The dip was very good, too; you can find recipes for it including everything from bleu cheese to Velveeta. Mama Squirrel just improvised with what was in the fridge: some grated old Cheddar, Parmesan, and cottage cheese, with a good spoonful of white salad-dressing-stuff and a few drops of hot pepper sauce mixed in.

[Pictures are coming!]

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