Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? No, Better Not...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Can't type....laughing. You know we invite guests to blog here on Jungle Red, people we love, people we'd love you to meet. Often, yes, they are writers, often mystery writers, and the coolest part of it is that every one is so different. We've had philosophy, and murder, and suspense, and drama, we've had pets and quilts and music and proms and torture and Twinkies and television and ...and...and...but we've never, I can safely say, had anything like this.
 Can't...type....still laughing.... (And she looks so normal, doesn't she?)

Literary Villain’s Halloween Dinners 

When given October 30th as a date to be on Jungle Reds (Thank you for having me!), I immediately thought Halloween. And then food. I am not a costume gal, nor much of a decorator. I have to live that existence through my character, Cherry Tucker, who wields a bedazzler as well as her paintbrush and shotgun. I get in a seasonal mood through books, movies, and food. So what could be better than pairing scary villains with cuisine for a spooktacular Halloween dinner? And as Halloween is on a Thursday this year, you have a few days to put together a fantastic Saturday night spread for a late Halloween party.

I’m offering five themed meals. The recipes are not my own, but easily googled. I had a sixth option of a villainous animal meal (Moby-Dick and Cujo came to mind), but that might put folks off dinner. And it’s hard to get whale in the United States.

Just kidding.

First up is your Classic Monster Meal. Sure you could make a cute Frankenstein, but to me the monster really lends himself to a casserole (think throwing together different parts). As Mary Shelley was English, how about Shepherd’s Pie? Red wine for Dracula? Sure, but obvious. I live in Georgia. Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. With two streams of bloody cake gel as decoration. Yum!

Pennywise the Clown’s Satan’s Circus cocktail
Frankenstein’s mini Shepherd’s Pies
Grendel’s arm roast
Medusa’s Chinese Long (Snake) Beans sautéed with garlic, salt, and lemon juice
Vampire bite Red Velvet Cupcakes

The Evil Overlord Feast. Why dress up as the giant eye of Sauron, when you can eat Eye of Sauron cake? I was amazed at the plethora of Middle Earth and Hobbit recipes. Lord of the Onion Rings?  (HANK: see? Still laughing.) Yes, please! Fantasy is the place to go for food. Narnia dinners, Hogwarts meals. You would not believe the number of recipes on the internet for the Hunger Games’ “frothy pink soup dotted with raspberries” Katniss ate in the Capitol. Nineteen Eighty-Four? You ate well if you were Inner Party, but the Outer Party ate synthetic foods. More of a recipe challenge.

President Coriolanus Snow’s Frothy Pink Capitol Soup
The Dark Lord of Sauron’s Roast Mutton Chops and Po-tay-toes
The White Witch of Narnia White Winter Salad
O’Brien’s 1984 Victory Rack of Spam (slice spam without separating, insert American cheese between the slices, and bake in a 300 degree oven until bubbling)
Voldemort’s Unicorn digestif, a desert drink

The Haunted House Repast. What foods evict ghosts? Filmy, shadowy stuff? No thanks. Let’s examine food from the locale of these famous haunts. How about a little surf and turf? Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House took place in “the most remote part of New England.” Traditional Essex recipes for the estate in The Turn of the Screw.

The Exorcist’s No Spew Ham and Split Pea Soup
Hill House New England Grilled Lobster (fireplace grill suggested)
The Overlook Hotel’s Colorado Angus Beef with French Potato Puree (served with canned fruit)
The Turn of the Screw’s Essex Apple Slices

A Killer Banquet. How can you not serve fava beans for these psychotic killers? Or American Psycho
without Cheerios?

Patrick Bateman’s All-American Snack Mix (with Cheerios)
Mr. Hyde’s Bubble and Squeak
Hannibal Lector’s Liver and Fava Beans (Amarone wine suggested)
The Tell-Tale Heart of Palm salad
Talented Tom Ripley’s Mongibello Cannoli

Finally, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Don’t ask these women to cook for you.

Mrs. Danvers’ Manderley Hall Tea “Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches” served with “Bowls of Fresh Raspberries and Peaches”
Annie Wilks’ Misery Pork Chops with Dom Pérignon sauce
Nurse Ratched’s Going Bananas Foster

Anyone out there making a special Halloween meal? I would love to hear your suggestions for evil villain cuisine. Choose your favorite antihero and a dish to match. I’ll be giving away a signed ARC of my newest Cherry Tucker mystery, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, (releasing November 5th) to some lucky commenter!

HANK: Oh, Larissa, you are hilarious...and that is quite the challenge. Lemme think. Maybe we'll simply bob for Poisoned Apples al la Maleficent?  (How can I beat Going Bananas Foster! Tell Tale Heart of Palm? LOVE it!)  Gang? How about ...youuuuuuuu?  (Imagine scary voice...)


Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn’t wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters that live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 10, 2013). She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website

HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, A Cherry Tucker Mystery #3:

Cherry Tucker’s love life has shifted into neutral. And her siblings, Grandpa, and sort-of-ex-husband have flipped her personal life to greasy side up. But life in Halo, Georgia, isn’t all bad for the sassy, Southern artist. Her career has pushed into full throttle. A classical series sold. A portrait commissioned. Then Uncle Will, Forks County Sheriff, calls in a favor to have Cherry draw a composite sketch of a hijacker. Suddenly, life takes a hairpin when the composite leads to a related murder, her local card sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait, and her Amazonian nemesis labels the classical series “pervert art,” causing Cherry to be shunned by the town. 

Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute and Max Avtaikin in legal jeopardy. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer, ready to grind her gears for good.


  1. Halloween recipes . . . so not my thing, but if you come my way, we’ll be featuring Dracula’s favorites: Vampire [raspberry liquor and vodka] Blood to drink, some phantasmical creamy roasted garlic soup, and, of course, dessert will be death by chocolate cake with raspberry sauce . . . .

  2. Love these menus--so funny! thanks for visiting. I used to throw a lot of Halloween parties, but focus was on costumes rather than quirky food.(Oh let's be honest, focus on beer too...)

  3. Hey Jungle Reds! Thanks so much for having me on today! Glad I could make you giggle, Hank!

    Joan, I'm coming to your house for dinner. You had me at Death by Chocolate cake, but that Vampire Blood drink sounds incredible. And you'll need all that chocolate to keep you company after all that garlic;)

    Lucy, I always focus on the beer. :)

  4. Yesterday I got a haircut--and my hairdresser was having trouble speaking. He sounded slurred, and as if something was wrong with his teeth.. I said--um, are you okay?

    ANd he grinned...and then said: See? I'm waiting for my vampire teeth to set.

    ANd yeah, LArissa, my Halloween menu kinda focuses on CANDY. In fit, I'm off today to stock up on Twizzlers. Which is a quandary, because is not many kids come, I'll be left to eat them. Which...I shouldn't do.

    Maybe I'll buy candy I DON"t like. MAybe-MIlky Way.
    Easy to resist Milky Way. HOw about you?

  5. I love Henery Press book! I have BRUNSWICK STEW sitting on my desk and haven't started it yet. Now I now I will.

    As a kid I loved Halloween. Now not so much. I'm -silly me - frightened of masks. And clowns. And we don't get many, any, kids tick-or-treating at our door these days. Luckily, I don't have to buy candy, much to my husband's chagrin. I can't eat sweets so it's no effort for me to resist the candy.

    I have no imagination so I can't possibly top the delicious (?) meals you all have planned. Going Bananas Foster indeed!!!

  6. Ris, this was hilarious! Such a fun post, and obviously well-thought-out!

    Lucy, that sounds a lot like our annual halloween bash. Costumes, cocktails ... and oh, right: food, so people don't puke their cocktails all over the carpet.

    To that end, my perfect Halloween food would be something with french fries or bread. Hmmmm. Freddy Kreuger's Julienne Fries?

    Hank, it's hard for me to think of candy I don't like, but gummy bears fit the bill. I'll trade you for a Milky Way. ;)

    Happy Halloween, ladies!

  7. I think I'll just have Death by Chocolate Cake - or maybe By Chocolate Cupcake. Cranberry juice will have to do for the bloody looking drink!(And really, for me, Halloween is all about the chocolate!)

    Larissa, I'm reading the first Cherry Tucker book right now. You failed to warn us that we may die laughing!

  8. Hank, I have the same problem. I've got little ones, so I try to buy the candy they like that I know I won't be tempted to eat. But then I found myself buying a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter cups...for the trick or treaters...just in case we run out of the other candy....yeah, right. ;)

    Marianne, you are so sweet! I hope you enjoy Still Life. I have to say, Going Bananas Foster was my favorite!

  9. Hi Larissa, love these so much — LORD OF THE ONION RINGS!!!! My kiddo is going to love these!

  10. Love a writer who, given Halloween, her mind goes to food. Given ANY holiday (any day, in fact) my mind goes there, too. But yours are hilarious, Larissa. Mr. Hyde's Bubble and Squeak... Though I'm afraid Hannibal ruined fresh fava beans for so many who will never know what they're missing.

    I'm eying that pumpkin I bought... day after Halloween it's pie. Heh heh heh heh.

  11. LynDee -- I love the Freddy Kruger french fries! And now I'm picturing your guests spewing. Just don't serve the Exorcist Split Pea soup.

    Deb-- Thank you so much! Glad you're enjoying Cherry Tucker. She is a mess. And cranberry juice sounds good to me, too. But the Death by Chocolate cupcake even better;)

    Susan-- I can not take credit for Lord Of The Onion Rings. The LOTR fans are so clever. I love that one, too!

  12. Hallie, we carved pumpkins last night and I've got my seeds drying for roasting. I have never made real pumpkin pie, though. I'm coming to your house!

  13. Love your menus, Larissa! I remember making cemetery chocolate cake when the kids were younger. It killed. Ha! See what I did there? :)

  14. Terri L Austin -- you are the clever one! LOL

  15. Loved this column, Larissa. So clever. I am making Monster Meat Loaf (they have to guess what other food is inside of the meatloaf (and don't tell them but this year it will be hard boiled eggs and Sweet Baby Gherkin pickles hiding out inside) with a dark red tomato sauce drizzled over the top (the "blood" simulation) for my family and I do Potato Fingers and red beet "hearts". The kids love their blindfold desserts (peeled grapes for eyeballs and cooked spaghetti for "guts" as they call them, and gelatin that feels like liver. We have this grandparents/grandchildren dinner at our house quite early and then they go to their house to go Trick or Treating. So they get a "party" before they party. One grandchild eats nothing but the dinner rolls and butter but he loves to participate while his sisters eat the meal. It is a lot of fun for them and that is what makes it so much fun for us, the adults.

    Would love to win your Cherry Tucker book, Larissa. Almost done your second book in the series and it is great. Reviews coming up soon.

    Thank you for the great pairings that you did for the blog. Enjoyed it so much.

    Cynthia Blain

  16. Thank you Cynthia! I would only eat dinner rolls and butter, too, if I didn't have my little girls to comment on my eating habits! LOL Good luck! I hope you win, too!

  17. These are so terrific! Love the way your mind works, Larissa! And I love your Cherry Tucker series as well!

  18. Halloween is my all-time favorite special day, and in fact we have at least ten times as many Halloween decorations as we do Christmas. (Shh, don't tell my husband!)

    We're having a costume party on Friday, the fourth one we've had since 2007, and I'm deep into preparations. This year's entree is Hunter's Stew, made with venison shot on our farm, accompanied by Mouldy Bones (crescent rolls knotted on the ends and dusted with cheese and herbs before baking). And I'm making Deviled Eyeballs--eggs with olive halves pressed into the top.

    I'm not a fan of gruesome stuff, though. The goriest thing I ever did, and one of the most labor-intensive--was to pare and core radishes, then insert olive halves into them. Freezing these "bloodshot eyeballs" makes for excellent chillers for martinis.

    Joan, we are serving Vampires this year, in honor of my husband's costume, Count Fangula. My costume is going to be a little less definable, just a flapper dress, plus spiky hair and wild makeup, with puncture wounds on the neck.

    Ha, my Captcha includes the number 13.


  19. Larissa Reinhart - you ALWAYS make me laugh out loud. I love this piece!

    I'm not doing any Halloween cooking but I have bought Halloween candy. Twice. We live in a very rural area with zero children anywhere close, we've already had our neighborhood Halloween party, so we know there won't be anyone knocking on the door for treats, but I cannot pass up those bags of fun size candy bars. No Butterfinger or Heath Bar is safe.

  20. Thank you Donnell! So sweet of you to say! As for my mind, well...

    Karen-- I love the Mouldy Bones! I may have to steal that. I'm going to make mummies for my kids with crescent rolls wrapped around brats. Love the "bitten flapper," too! Great idea!

    Kaye-- I will trick or treat you b/c I love your mountains. I have a feeling you might be out of candy, tho...

  21. The first time we had a Halloween party I made my specialty dish, salmon pasta, with squid ink (therefore black) linguini. It was a huge hit. Served with a pureed orange pepper soup, adapted from a recipe for yellow pepper soup from Cibreo, a wonderful restaurant in Florence, Italy.

    Another 13. Hmm.

  22. Tangent: Ive been to Cibreo! SO funny!

    And Karen, that sounds DELISH. (Does it make your teeth black?)

  23. Thanks for a good laugh, Larissa! And congrats on the new release!

    I'm thinking Charles Dickens themed:
    Fagin's the other white meat casserole
    Miss Havisham's bitter chocolate wedding cake with dried-up whole cherries

    And guest of honor Sweeney Todd with this famous "mutton" pies.

    Hank, Milky Ways are my downfall!

  24. Larissa, what fun theme dinners you've given us! I keep saying that one of these years I'm going to have friends over for a Halloween dinner, and you and others here have provided great ideas for one.

    I can always count on the Reds' blog to entertain and inform me daily.

  25. A friend who does a food blog is providing snacks for her little one's nursery school this week -- such clever ideas! Today's was witches' brooms made with stick pretzels and that cheese stick stuff, shredded. There were pumpkins made from clementines with stems made of bits of cucumbers. And ghosts made of half bananas, "faces" created with raisin eyes and cheerio noses. There were spiders -- two crackers with something between them (cream cheese or peanut butter) and legs made of pretzel sticks -- eyes & a nose made from raisins.
    Not scary or disgusting, but fun for kiddies.

  26. Karen-- what's up with all the 13's? I love the idea of squid ink pasta. A great villain is the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!

    Lisa --- Oh My Gosh! Sweeney Todd mutton pies! How can you not!!! And I love Miss Havisham's shriveled cherries. That is too good!

    Kathy-- if you need an excuse, I'm always up for eating other people's cookings. You get what I'm saying here? ;)

    Denise-- those are so cute! I'm making hot dog mummies for my little ones tomorrow. I love the clementines. I think that picture was very popular on Pinterest. So, so cute!

  27. Hank and Karen,
    Your Cibero comment reminded me that I had ghost pasta in Florence! Don't remember the name of the restaurant, tho. But I will never forget the pasta. Little ravioli's shaped like ghosts stuffed with apple and fontina. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. I always remember the food! :0

    Why didn't I use ghost pasta for the haunted house list? *palm to head*

  28. Hang on. It wasn't apple and fontina. It was pear and fontina.

    Ok, now y'all know how hung up I really am on food.

  29. That ghost pasta sounds yummy, with pear or apple, either one.

    No, Hank, the squid ink pasta doesn't turn your teeth black. But wouldn't it be a fun dinner party trick if it did?


  30. I keep thinking, "Mr. Pumpkinhead!" Too funny!

    Thanks, Larissa, for getting us through the mid-week slump! Now I'm ready for Halloween!

  31. I think I'm going for the Monster Meal. I'm all about red velvet cupcakes! Thanks for the fun post.

  32. Cherry Tucker sounds fun. Halloween food. . . how about Dracula's gazpacho, bloody marys, lady fingers, brownies (sans uniforms), roast beast, feral pigs in blankets. There must be more!

  33. What fun! Thanks, Larissa, for such a great blog post to get us through hump day. I'm all for the red velvet cupcakes myself and Joan's Death by Chocolate cake.

  34. Deb-- I'm so glad you enjoyed!

    Teri-- You can never gone wrong with red velvet anything.

    Pat D-- I love feral pigs in a blanket. I also love domesticated pigs in a blanket;)

    Linda-- I'm with you on Joan's Death by Chocolate cake! That is the way to go!

  35. It's typical of me to focus on the dessert ideas, all sound good! However, due to the influence of my Terripin Farms CSA, I know there have to be other foods . . . gazpacho could be a good choice, so red and chunky . . . and venison makes such good sauerbraten . . . and then more dessert please, ghost pasta perhaps? Happy Halloween, all . . . I raise a Reese's peanut butter cup to you. ;-)

  36. Thank you storytellermary! Gazpacho would be a great dish and I like the venison sauerbraten, too. YUM!

  37. I have chicken and salad for dinner tonight--Jonathan is out of town. This blog is so scary--I decided to call it "I'm a Chicken (and Salad.)"

    Okay, fine, Its not that funny. But Larissa, you're hilarious.

  38. Thanks Hank and thanks so much for having me on. It was a scream;)