Hands-on Halloween

Feeling crafty this Halloween? We've compiled a few activities that you can do at home, such as carving your own pumpkin and making cobweb cupcakes. Be sure you ask a parent to help - and have fun!

Spooky punch bowl

Keep your Halloween punch cool - and add a scary twist - by putting in floating hands made of ice. Here's how you do it.

1. Thoroughly wash a pair of (powder-free) latex gloves. Fill them with water.

2. Tie the ends of the gloves and leave them in the freezer overnight.

3. After they freeze, carefully strip off the gloves (removing all latex). Place your ice-cube hands into a bowl of your favorite punch.

Sources: diynetwork.com, 'Holiday Fun Year-Round' by Dian Thomas, 'Fun at Home' by Dian Thomas.

Pumpkin-carving tips

(Please ask a parent to help you with carving tools.)

1. When selecting a pumpkin, make sure it doesn't have any mold, especially around the stem. When you knock on it, it should have a nice, full sound. Check for scratches and dents.

2. Sketch your jack-o'-lantern face lightly with a nonpermanent marker before you carve.

3. Use a small saw blade with a jagged edge that's specially designed for pumpkin carving.

4. When cutting the hole on top, cut at an angle toward the center of the pumpkin so that the lid sits easily on top instead of slipping through. Also make sure your hole is large enough to fit your hand and a candle.

5. Use an ice-cream spade or your hands to scoop out the pumpkin's insides.

6. After carving, coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly. This will slow the pumpkin's dehydration process and keep the jack-o'-lantern smiling longer.

7. Put a votive candle in a small glass jar and place inside the pumpkin. This will protect the flame from wind and prevent the candle from tipping over.

Sources: diynetwork.com, HGTV.com

Spider web cupcakes

Cupcakes

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Glaze

1 cup real semisweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons shortening

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup butter (softened) in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs; continue beating until creamy. Mix in sour cream, milk, and vanilla. Add all remaining cupcake ingredients. Reduce speed to low; beat until well mixed.

Fill each cup in a muffin pan with 2 tablespoons of batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

For frosting: Combine confectioners' sugar and 1/4 cup butter in small bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often. Gradually add enough milk to make it spreading consistency.

Melt chocolate chips and shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth (3 to 4 minutes). Place melted chocolate in small heavy-duty plastic food bag; snip the tip from one corner to make a very small hole. (If the hole is larger than pin-sized, chocolate could run out too fast.)

Use 1 tablespoon frosting per cupcake. Then pipe three circles of melted chocolate onto each frosted cupcake (see photo). Draw several lines from the center of each cupcake to the edges to form the web. Yield: 24 cupcakes

Source: Land-O-Lakes, www.landolakes.com

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