No Tricks With These Easy-To-Make Treats

IN THE KITCHEN

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Thinking about Halloween inevitably conjures up images of goblins, ghouls and ghosts who walk the earth for a night of fright.

This year, let a friendly spirit into the house instead -- the spirit of fun!

Wandering spirits aside, Halloween is a great time for wandering imaginations. Invite family and friends in the spirit of fun to partake in the creative activities of the season. Homemade costumes foster creativity and fun, as does dressing up the front porch for guests with jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows in outrageous getups.

Past the front door, welcome guests into a memorable party, filled with fun treats, not scary tricks. Guests can decorate masks, make up silly Halloween songs set to familiar tunes and munch on festive goodies. Invite the spirit of fun, and the enjoyable memories of Halloween will haunt you, happily, for the rest of the year.

For other unique Halloween recipes, decorating and gift ideas, and family fun activities, visit www.brightideas.com.

To help get the fun started, here are some special Halloween treats from the kitchen.

Spider Cupcakes

1, 18.25-ounce box devil's food cake mix

1, 26.5-ounce bag Snickers or Milky Way Fun Size Bars, unwrapped

1, 14-ounce bag M&M's for Halloween

1, 16-ounce can dark chocolate frosting

1, 10.5-ounce can chocolate sprinkles

24 large marshmallows

48 black licorice laces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Fill two muffin tins with paper liners.

Fold candy bars into batter, then transfer to prepared pans.

Bake 18 to 21 minutes. Remove pans from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of chocolate frosting in resealable plastic bag.

Spread tops of cupcakes with remaining frosting, then coat with chocolate sprinkles.

Cut marshmallows in half horizontally. Using reserved frosting, attach marshmallows to cupcakes as eyes.

Evenly quarter licorice laces. Press four pieces on two sides of each cupcake for spider legs, attach an M&M's to each. Attach another M&M's for mouth.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Halloween Cut-Out Cookies

1, 18-ounce roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2, 14-ounce bags M&M's for Halloween

1, 16-ounce can vanilla frosting

Black food coloring

6 large colored craft sticks

1, 6-inch flowerpot

1 Styrofoam square

6, 12-inch strands colored raffia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Knead together cookie dough and flour until smooth.

Roll out dough to one-quarter-inch thickness. Using large Halloween cookie cutters, cut out 6 cookies and transfer to cookie sheet. Gather up dough scraps and re-roll, if necessary.

Slide a craft stick underneath each cookie and press into dough. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookie sheet to wire rack.

When cookies are cool, divide vanilla frosting between two bowls. Using food coloring, color half of frosting black. Spread frosting over cookies, and decorate with candies (eyes, noses, etc.). Let dry about 30 minutes.

Fill flowerpot with Styrofoam. Tie each craft stick with raffia. Press craft sticks into Styrofoam. Sprinkle remaining candies over Styrofoam.

Makes six large cookies.

Boo-Ville Dirt

1, 9-ounce box chocolate wafers

1, 5.9-ounce box instant chocolate pudding

1, 13-ounce bag Snickers Fun Size Bars

1, 13-ounce bag Twix Fun Size Bars

2 cups whipped topping

1, 14-ounce bag M&M's for Halloween

1 tube white decorating icing

Put chocolate wafers into large plastic bag and crush into a fine crumb. Set aside.

Set aside nine Snickers bars and roughly chop remainder. Place in mixing bowl and set aside.

Chop Twix bars, place in separate mixing bowl and set aside.

Prepare pudding according to package directions. Refrigerate 10 minutes.

Fold whipped topping into pudding.

Line bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan with chopped Snickers bars. Spoon half of pudding mixture over candy, then sprinkle with Twix bars and top with remaining pudding.

Spread chocolate wafer crumbs over entire surface, mounding some crumbs in different areas to make hills.

Use M&M's to make a path. Decorate remaining nine Snickers bars with white icing and press bars into prepared surface, creating a spooky landscape.

Makes 20 to 24 servings.

Jack O' Lantern Brownies

1 box (for 9x13-inch pan) brownie mix

1, 16-ounce can white frosting, tinted with orange food coloring

1, 14-ounce bag M&M's for Halloween

6 green Starburst Fruit Chews, Tropical variety

Line bottom only of 9-inch round baking pan with parchment paper.

Prepare and bake brownie mix according to package directions.

After baking, cool completely, unmold and place on platter.

Ice with orange-tinted frosting. Use black M&M's for jack-O'-lantern's eyes, nose and mouth.

Microwave fruit chews three to four seconds. Mold into one piece with fingers. Pull off one-third, set aside. Mold remainder into thick stem shape. With hands, roll reserved piece into long rope on flat surface. Make curlicues. Press stem into top of cake, decorate with "vines."

Makes 12 servings.

Recipes from Family Features, Inc.

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