For nearly three decades, Jeanne and Dirk Sanborn have been hosting a frightfully festive fete every Halloween night. The couple started the tradition when they lived in Chicago. They continued the fun during a few brief years in Boston before bringing the party 16 years ago to their current neighborhood in the Lexington subdivision of West Mobile. “We only missed one year when Halloween fell on a Friday night, because our son’s UMS football team was playing St. Paul’s, ” says Jeanne. The Sanborns’ two children, Brittany and Brandon, now 28 and 25, no longer live at home, but the party goes on, as usual.
Jeanne’s extensive collection of Halloween décor sets the spooky scene. “And we always have chili and margaritas, ” she says. In addition to Tex-Mex favorites, the menu includes a spread of sweets that incorporate favorite holiday candy.
After most of the children have finished trick-or-treating, the party really gets underway. “Almost everyone on our street shows up, ” says Jeanne.
“Many weekend parties have gone on until 2 or 3 in the morning, but we always seem to have enough food and drinks.” That’s an impressive feat when your house is everyone’s favorite Halloween haunt!
Witches’ Brew Margaritas
These festive spirits are sure to liven up any get-together.
1 (12-ounce) can frozen limeade
2 1/2 – 3 cans water
1 can light or dark rum
1/2 can triple sec
1/4 can lemon juice
lime wedges, for garnish
1. Pour ingredients into pitcher, stir and serve over ice with lime wedge. Makes 2 quarts.
Cauldron of Chili
Wine gives this traditional Tex-Mex dish an extra kick.
10 pounds ground chuck
8 onions, chopped
6 green bell peppers, chopped
4 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed, diced
4 shallots, diced
4 heaping tablespoons minced garlic (from the jar), or to taste
5 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
2 cups beef stock or bouillon
1 quart red wine (merlot or Burgundy)
6 – 8 (14-ounce) cans black beans, with liquid
8 – 10 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
2 tablespoons ground chipotle pepper
4 – 6 tablespoons salt, or to taste
Wondra flour for thickening, if necessary
shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1. Brown ground chuck with onions and green peppers. Drain fat.
2. Add jalapeños, shallots, garlic and tomatoes. Bring to low boil.
3. Add beef stock or bouillon and red wine. Bring to low boil and simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add black beans, chili powder, chipotle pepper and salt to taste. Bring to low boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently.
5. Add Wondra flour to thicken if desired. Adjust seasonings. Serve with cheese and chips. Serves 20 – 25.
Milky Ways in Disguise
Incorporate extra Halloween candy into these gooey bars, above.
2 packages sugar, chocolate chip or peanut butter slice-and-bake cookie dough
1 bag fun-size Milky Way candy bars
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Press cookie dough into a greased 9-by-13-inch Pyrex dish.
3. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until light golden.
4. Place candy bars on lightly cooked dough and return to oven. Bake for 7 – 10 minutes, until candy starts to melt.
5. Remove from oven. Use a metal spatula to spread candy evenly over cookie to look like marble. Top with nuts, if desired. Let cool, and cut into squares. Makes about 24 bars.
Potato Chip Cookie Treats
Jeanne’s grandmother, wife of the founder of Jays Potato Chips in Chicago, developed this family recipe. Instructions were also printed on the company’s chip tins and boxes during the Christmas season.
1/2 pound room temperature butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup finely crushed potato chips
(Jays in the upper Midwest)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and mix until smooth and creamy.
3. Hand stir in potato chips.
4. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Makes 24 cookies.
text by Sallye Irvine