It's hard enough being a monster without worrying about what's for dinner, according to author Zac Williams. That's why he's come up with a cookbook for little monsters everywhere, with such recipes as Werewolf Skins, Coffin Crunchers, Prince-of-the-Night Pizza and other ghoulish goodies.
"Little Monsters Cookbook" (Gibbs Smith, $14.99) is all in good fun, especially around Halloween time. Williams, a Pleasant View commercial photographer, came up with the idea to give kids — including his own three children — something fun to make in the kitchen.
"I used my imagination, focused on simple things and putting a twist to it," he said. "For instance, kids like pizza, and Prince-of-the-Night Pizza makes it fun for them. And it's not just for Halloween, but fun recipes they could use any time of the year."
As partner of Williams Visual, he's photographed more than 175 décor, craft and cookbooks for Random House, Simon & Schuster, Gibbs Smith and Sterling Publishing. Shooting photos for the Pink Princess cookbook series sparked the idea for a book that would also appeal to boys as well. "That's what really inspired me, they are really fun books, but there's not a lot of boys who would want a Pink Princess cookbook," he said.
Most of the 30 recipes are familiar enough not to scare kids away from trying them. For instance, Coffin Crunchers are coffin-shaped pita chips with hummus or marinara sauce. The Mummy Pups are cocktail weiners wrapped in breadstick dough.
He also wanted the recipes to be simple enough to be hands-on for kids. "Instead of just watching Mom make something, they can participate and learn. There are a lot of beautiful Halloween cookbooks out there, but they're themed for real cooking enthusiasts, not kids."
He also aimed for a balance of savory and sweet recipes, "so that kids could build a little menu of a monster meal of drinks, entrees, and desserts and salads."
Such a meal might just lure kids to the table before trick-or-treating, so they can fill up on something besides candy Halloween night.
His kids served as taste-testers. "The one they refused to eat was the Trifle With Death, they thought it was too creepy," he said, of the concoction that includes angel's food cake, lime gelatin, vanilla pudding and crushed Oreos with assorted gummy worms, spiders, frogs and other candies. "It has just too much going on for their tastebuds to handle."
The "Eyes-For-You" cupcakes are a favorite of his 9-year-old, Ethan.
His 6-year-old daughter, Rya, is a fan of the Frankenfeet, "and it's a perfect age to help with the cookie cutter," he added.
Three-year-old Piper loved all the dry-ice special effects, although Williams cautions that dry ice should be handled carefully and with the help of parents.
In fact, there are some safety tips, such as hand washing, refrigerating food and being careful use of knives, prefaced with the statement, "Your blood is a very precious thing, just ask Dracula."
2 medium red delicious apples
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup slivered almonds, blanched
Chocolate syrup (optional)
Core the apples, but don't peel them. Slice each apple into 8 wedges.
Spread peanut butter onto half of the apple wedges. Press slivered almonds into one side of each apple wedge to create scraggly teeth.
Place an apple slice with the peanut butter side up and top with another apple slice, to form a mouth with red lips and teeth.
Drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired. Make 8 bites.
— "Little Monsters Cookbook," by Zac Williams