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October 30, 2019

Autumn Meets and Spooky Treats

Raking in the fall fun.

As sweater weather sets in, we are busy raking in as much fall fun as we possibly can. Our fall activities read like a checklist of all the best things the season has to offer. Corn maze on Sauvie Island, haunted houses, homemade apple cider, pumpkin carving, spooky party snacks and no October is complete without a Hocus Pocus viewing party!

Our new youth space in SW Washington was the site of one such haunted house and fall fest. Mentors and youth enjoyed Halloween-themed snacks like sweet and sour bat wings and shrunken potato heads with slime dip. See below for all the fun treats complete with recipes!

Professional Mentor, Mike Madden, brought a couple of his second-graders to the party. He was struck by the authentic intimacy of the event. "A group of mentors and youth gathered to create a simple, home-grown Halloween event that didn’t cost much, was special in a down-to-earth way," Mike shared. His youth enjoyed the snacks and running around in the backyard. An attempt to go through the haunted house, however, was carried out with some mixed results.

Haunted Garage

By Mike Madden, Friend

I have never been to the SW Washington house, and so when my youth piled into the car and I told them, we were going to Friends of the Children in another state. I think minds were blown. “Are we still in America,” one guy asked when we crossed the bridge into Vancouver.

We found the house by the sheer number of cars that were in the street. When there are that many cars in the street, someone’s having a party.

We knocked on the door, and one of the mentors opened it for us and greeted us warmly. The great part about the house is that it has an open floor plan, so we could – at a glance – see just about the entire gathering of people. And there were a LOT of people.

We made our way into the commotion. People came up to us and welcomed us, and my guys introduced themselves to folks. The kitchen island was filled with chicken wings dyed black (to look like little bats) and some other tasty food. We loaded our plates and got in line for the haunted house in the garage.

When it was our turn to go into the garage, we had taken maybe two steps in when one of my second-grade guys started getting very scared. Nothing scary had happened yet, but just the thought of a haunted house was enough for him, apparently.

We were thinking of turning around but were encouraged forward by one of the zombie actors. We walked a few more steps into the haunted maze and got to the part where you have to crouch on all fours and crawl through a table. That’s when my little guy started shaking with fear.

“OK, let’s turn around,” I said, and we headed back into the main part of the house.

We ended up taking plates of food into the back yard, and after the kids finished their food, they engaged in a rousing game of tag. I got into it a little, as well, and realized that I should maybe start hitting the gym again!

The party was wrapping up, but my guys were having so much fun, they had to be practically dragged out of there. Before we left, though, we got a “behind the scenes” look at the garage-turned haunted house (with the lights on). “This isn’t that scary. This is just a garage,” one of the kids said.

Spooky Snacks for Kids

Sweet and Sour Bat Wings

3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black food coloring
3 lb whole chicken wings
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and black food coloring in a bowl. Add the chicken wings and turn carefully to coat. Marinate for 6-24 hours. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Remove the wings from the fridge and place them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake chicken 30-40 minutes. Combine the honey and apple cider vinegar. Remove the wings from the oven and brush liberally with the honey mixture. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Toxic Waste Mac and Cheese

3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
12 ounces cheddar cheese
1 bag spinach
3 tsp green food coloring
1 pound dry pasta

Boil water and sea salt. Add dry pasta and boil until noodles are soft. Drain pasta. Combine the butter, milk, pepper, food coloring, spinach leaves and cheese.

Shrunken Potato Heads with Slime Dip

2 lbs potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 avocado, halved, stoned, and peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, crushed
chives for garnish

Preheat the oven 345°F. Use the end of a small, sharp knife to carefully carve faces into the potatoes: dig the point of the knife 1cm into the potato and carve out eyes, noses and mouths. Place the potatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Make sure all the faces are facing upwards, then roast for 40-45 mins until golden and crispy. Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork. Stir in the soured cream, garlic and some seasoning. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine. Top with the chives, then serve with the potatoes for dipping.

Halloween Muddy Buddies

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Kit Kats, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Hershey's candy corn bars
candy skulls
edible eyeballs

In a large bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for 1 minute; stir. Return to microwave for 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Combine chocolate mixture with Chex cereal. Stir until evenly coated. Combine cereal and powdered sugar; mix until well coated. Add candy, sprinkles and eyeballs. Store in an airtight container.