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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Halloween

A Spooktacular Table

Marc J. Sievers

Recently I returned to the WGN Studios in Chicago for a SPOOKtactuar segment on creating a tablescape perfect for a Halloween soirée!  Don’t let the word “tablescape” scare you, it is easy to re-create this over-the-top look at home with just a quick trip to your grocery store and a few clicks online.  Even my Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and my Orange Creamsicle Martini use basic everyday ingredients, but have a WOW! factor.  Here are more BOOtiful Halloween ideas and below I’ve included the clip to my Halloween segment on WGN. 

There is also a fabulous contest on my homepage - happy trick or treating!

WATCH: WGN Chicago

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Enter If You Dare: Halloween-Inspired Décor

Marc-Ryan Group

Each year as Halloween approaches I get excited for the start of the Autumnal season of holidays and traditions.  The weather starts to cool off, spiced apple drinks start to flow (I like mine spiked!), and Halloween inaugurates the holiday celebrations with fun and creativity.

There are many directions to go when decorating for Halloween.  From kitsch to all-out ghoulish crypt-keeping, often I am left with piles of decorations in November that immediately need to be stored to make way for Thanksgiving.  This year I decided to take a different approach.  Less pumpkin tchotchke and no conversion to a full cemetery in my living room.  Instead, Halloween this year will be paired down to be sophisticated, chic, and best of all done in minutes!

My inspiration for a sophisticated Halloween theme is to utilize a monochromatic color palate of sumptuous black tones, and then to create focused vignettes in specific areas around the apartment.  This keeps the decoration contained and easier to manage and is visually more dramatic.

I also approached my theme with classic easy-to-find decorations in the seasonal aisle in my grocery store and drug store, but layered them in a more curated way.  As beautiful as many of the high-end Halloween decorations can be, they have to be stored year after year, and may not fit your style or space the next Halloween.  All of my decorations fit in a plastic boot-sized storage container for all holidays (except Christmas, of course).

The simplicity of a monochromatic palate is enhanced with different textures in the same black tones, which adds depth, interest, and a more layered look.  Use this visual All-Hallows-Eve photo series as inspiration for your own SPOOKtacular décor!  Pick and choose the elements that resonate with you, play some Halloween-inspired tunes (Pandora: Halloween Party Radio is my choice!), and just have fun adding some BOOtiful elements to make your space come alive – if you dare!

Happy Halloween!

Cobwebs, Spiders, and Crows - OH MY!

Everyday Items Get a SPOOKtacular Makeover!

A Centerpiece Worthy of Frightful Screams!

Classic Halloween Icons Perfect for Place Cards or Food Markers!

BOOtiful Halloween Details!

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Cheers! Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks!

Marc J. Sievers

It’s cocktail time!  Every now and again I love to create what I would call a “kitschy” drink, and my Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks fits the bill perfectly.  Things like Pumpkin Cream Liqueur, whipped cream vodka, and buttershots are certainly not everyday ingredients but they really do make this cocktail one of my new favorites.  I especially love the toasted mini marshmallows on a “stick”, I mean that is just too cute!

I plan on serving this as my signature drink on Thanksgiving Day.  Regardless of how many people join in the festivities I can expand the recipe as needed and fill a large glass pitcher and leave it in the fridge.  Then when a guest wants a “cockatoonie” (that’s what my godmother calls a cocktail!) all they have to do is fill a glass with ice and pour.  The toasted marshmallow skewers can be pre-done the morning of and set to the side with cocktail napkins and with a small salt shaker filled with cinnamon for garnishing.  It’s easy as “pie”!

Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks

Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail)

  • Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur – ⅓ cup, Fulton’s Harvest brand recommended

  • Whipped Cream Vodka – 2 tablespoons, Pinnacle brand recommended

  • Buttershots Butterscotch Schnapps – 1 tablespoon, Dekuyper brand recommended

  • Mini Marshmallows – for garnish

  • Cinnamon – for garnish

  • Wooden Skewer


  1. Start by filling a double old fashioned glass with ice.

  2. Place the marshmallows onto the top end of the wood skewer.

  3. Using a kitchen torch or candle flame, gradually toast the marshmallows until desired color is achieved.

  4. Pour in all three liqueurs and gently mix with a spoon.

  5. Garnish with a light sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted marshmallow skewer.

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The Jack-o-Lantern Reinvented

Marc J. Sievers

Halloween is less than 24 hours away and I am always looking for last minutes decorating ideas.  I don’t think there is anything more iconic that the Jack-O-Lantern trick or treat pale!  As a little boy I would get so excited when I saw them in the grocery store or pharmacy because that always meant that Halloween was coming.  Now that I’m no longer trick or treating (shocking, I know!) I really wanted to find a way to incorporate this icon into my All Hallows Eve celebration.  I also wanted to make sure that all of the supplies I needed where going to be readily available at your grocery store, pharmacy, or even elements you might already own.

Accenting with glitter adds some extra glamor during the day to an ordinary plastic decoration.

The large opening of the lantern allows the heat from the tea light candles to escape easily.

Using just a few key materials I was able to create this adorable illuminated Jack-O-Lantern! This lantern is such a festive addition to your dining table, kitchen counter, or even in multiples lining your walkway and driveway helping those little goblins find your front door and ultimately the candy!  I hope everyone has a safe and candy-filled Halloween!  Remember, brush your teeth before bedtime!

Supplies (makes 1 lantern)

  • Jack-O-Lantern

  • White Glue

  • Small Paint Brush

  • Black Glitter

  • Dried Beans or Rice

  • 3 Tea Light Candles and Holders


  1. Using a small paint brush, fill in the eye, nose, and mouth areas with white glue.

  2. Sprinkle the glue covered areas generously with glitter. Gently shake the excess glitter off onto a paper towel. Wipe away excess glitter from the outside of the lantern with a damp paper towel.

  3. Fill the bottom of the lantern with enough dried beans or rice to weight it down.

  4. Nestle the tea light holders in the middle of the lanterns’ base.

  5. Place a tea light candle in each holder and light with a long match or stick lighter.

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Spooktacular Flowers

Marc J. Sievers

Every year for Halloween, I love to turn up the spook factor in my home while still keeping things chic.  I fill silver bowls with colorful candy corn, replace some of my chandelier bulbs with flickering bulbs, and even place black crows (with red rhinestone eyes!) on the sills of my windows.  But one of the easiest decorating tricks is adding store-bought spider webbing and fuzzy spiders to already existing flower arrangements!  It’s a great budget-friendly way of turning ordinary flowers into a creepy centerpiece.  Have a safe, fun, and spooktacular Halloween!


  1. Choose your favorite type of flower and arrange them in a simple clear vase.

  2. Then wrap the spider webbing around the arrangement and vase.

  3. Place a few whimsical spiders in and around the webbing.

Tip: A flower arrangement set on your dining room table during dinner should be no more than eight inches tall.  You want to create a low-lying display, something that can easily be “peeked” over so guests can converse with one another naturally.

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Cheers! A Spooky Orange Creamsicle Martini

Marc J. Sievers

Don’t you just love Halloween:  Candy, costumes, and cocktails, OH MY!  In keeping with the spirit of All Hallows Eve my Spooky Orange Creamsicle Martini is festive with traditional orange and black colors and tastes like an old favorite childhood soda.

While I LOVE fun cocktails, I usually find that they are made with an overwhelming amount of specialty liquors and ingredients that I never seem to have on-hand in my bar.  This yummy cocktail has just 3 ingredients, all of which are easy to find.  In fact, you may even have them already.  So get mixin you little vixen!  Have a safe and spooktacular Halloween, BOO!

Spooky Orange Creamsicle Martini

Ingredients (makes 6  martini’s)

  • Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka – 1½ cups, chilled

  • Orange Soda – 3 cups, chilled

  • Heavy Cream – 6 tablespoons, cold, divided

  • Black Sanding Sugar – ¼ cup


  1. Lay a large piece of parchment paper down on the counter.

  2. Pour the sanding sugar onto a small plate. On another small plate pour just enough water to coat the bottom of the plate. Place the rim of a martini glass into the water then directly into the sanding sugar, gently rolling it to cover the rim.

  3. Place the coated rim onto the parchment paper and allow dry for 20 minutes.

  4. Do this with all the martini glasses.

  5. Pour the vodka and orange soda into a pitcher. Gently stir to combine.

  6. Fill each martini glass with enough liquid to come ¾ –inch below the sugared rim.

  7. Top each martini with 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and gently stir to incorporate.

  8. Serve immediately.

Tip: Serve this martini all year long by changing out the black sugar for white or orange sugar!

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