Ghoulish Goodies: Your Guide to Cheerfully Eerie Edibles

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There's nothing funny about all those E. coli and salmonella outbreaks that keep popping up and plaguing us like the Undead. But with trick-or-treat season right around the corner, I thought it might be nice to take a brief break from food scares and focus on scary food we can safely sink our teeth into, like Rocky Road-To-Perdition Fudge or I'Scream Cake.

Those are just two of the diabolically delicious recipes I found in Ghoulish Goodies, a clever collection of Halloween-themed concoctions by Sharon Bowers. Some are sweet, others savory, but they all sound eerily tasty. I spotted this book at a friend's house last weekend and essentially stole it after leafing through its pages and finding such ingenious Halloween snacks as Cheddar Eyeballs, Candy Corn Pizza, and Bandaged Fingers, to name just a few of the more than seventy inventive recipes featured in Ghoulish Goodies. The recipes have simple ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions and plenty of photos to inspire you.

The eyeballs, for example, are just a round, bite-sized ball of dough with a pimento-stuffed green olive plunked in the center to glare back at you. The bits of cheddar cheese baked into the dough leave little orange streaks that give the eyeballs a bloodshot quality.

Other perfect finger foods, literally, include Bandaged Fingers, a twisted take on the eternally popular Pig in A Blanket, featuring cocktail weiners wrapped in flour tortilla strips, with just the tip of the weiner jutting out. A dollop of ketchup on the tip serves as a bloody-looking fingernail.

This hors d'oeuvre is horrifying enough without the added atrocity of factory farmed meats, of course. A vegan version with tofu dogs is one alternative. I've yet to find a source for cocktail weiners from pastured livestock, so I'm going to go with my favorite local grass-fed hot dogs instead of, say, Costco cocktail weiners. I'll cut them in half, which will make for a rather long -- and presumably even creepier -- finger.

The recipe for Ladies' Fingers offers a sweet variation on the finger concept, using a shortbread-style cookie dough embellished with reddened sliced almonds for fingernails--a bit of beet juice would be the ideal liquid for coloring if, like me, you find food dyes truly too scary!

My favorite savory offering in Ghoulish Goodies is the Candy Corn Pizza, which, thankfully, does not require any real candy corn. You need only four ingredients to create it: a pizza dough (ready-made is fine); tomato sauce; shredded mozzerella; and shredded cheddar. You apply the tomato sauce at the edge, then a ring of orange cheese, and then white cheese in the center. Slice it into triangles, and voila! You've got all of candy corn's charm and none of its cloying sweetness.

Like every other holiday, Halloween has fallen victim to rampant commercialization in recent decades. I'm not sure what's more appalling: the orgy of chocolate candy made from cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children; the avalanche of cheap plastic pumpkin baskets and other landfill-ready Halloween accessories; or the obnoxious and offensive costumes -- the most egregious, this year, being the Illegal Alien costume which Target had the bad taste to stock before outrage compelled it to remove the offending item from its shelves.

Ghoulish Goodies gives you some great DIY ways to reclaim Halloween from all the retail horror. So skip the mass-produced monstrosities and bake your way to a less heinous -- but cheerily eerie -- holiday!

Cross-posted from The Green Fork.