Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween Costumes for 2011: From the Creative to the Controversial

2011 has been the year of controversies, and undoubtedly the clever people who create the most popular Halloween costumes will apply them to the line-up. We recap our favorites and the ones that we think will create the most waves this year for Halloween.

Dress Like a Celeb for Halloween 

Katy Perry's cupcake bra can be purchased at stores.
Charlie Sheen - He may have lost all of his custody battles, but Charlie Sheen is #winning as the predicted most popular Halloween costume of 2011. Charlie is the self-proclaimed "warlock" who dines on "tigers blood." Make your hair and clothes disheveled. A tiger striped bandana would add a funny touch and make your costume more recognizable.

Katy Perry - Katy Perry never strays from controversy. She wears some of the most outrageous outfits that we've seen on the red carpet. You could wear anything from latex dresses to a cupcake bra and a blue wig and people would believe you're Katy Perry. 

Lady Gaga - Yes, Lady Gaga topped our list last year, but she keeps upping the ante. This year a predicted awesome Halloween costume will be the Lady Gaga meat dress. You can wear raw meat (if it's sanitary...) or just find fabric that looks like meat, and cut it so that it drapes like her dress. Raw meat could get smelly so if you plan on being authentic, you should either celebrate outside or in a well air-conditioned room.

Costumes Inspired by Television

Don Draper looks dapper in his 1960's suit.
 Pan Am - One of our favorite television shows this fall is Pan Am. The blue flight attendant suits leave just enough for the imagination, and you can talk to your guests and fellow party-goers in character. "Can I refill your drink sir?"

Mad Men - Dressing like Betty or Joan for women is a fun blast from the past with form flattering dresses and a bold lip. Men can sport a Don Draper suit with a fedora. You will undoubtedly be the most dapper person at the party.

Dancing with the Stars - These costumes are sure to turn some heads. Men can wear the tight dancer pants and a silk shirt, and women can wear the skimpy costumes from DWTS. You can always turn heads by dressing up as a famous contestant - like Chaz Bono or Kirstie Alley.

Most Controversial Halloween Costumes of 2011

The Casey Anthony mask sold on eBay for $24,000.
Casey Anthony - The most hated woman in America's mask sold on eBay for $24,000. You don't need to buy that - instead dress up as trailer trash with a beer bottle in your hand and maybe some other famous paraphernalia associated with Casey. This costume is very controversial and will for sure turn some heads.

Dr. Conrad Murray - The man who is on trial for killing Michael Jackson is definitely going to be one of those parody costumes making waves at parties. Wear a doctor's coat and carry around a syringe to make it believable. When people ask you if you're a doctor, just say yes, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Osama Bin Laden - Too soon? We predict that this costume will be relatively popular since this year was the iconic year where he was captured and killed by US forces. Create a makeshift turban and grow a beard to make this costume perfect.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkins Aren't Just for Carving Jack-O-Lanterns Anymore

Pumpkins aren't just for carving jack-o-lanterns anymore. People are putting this savory-yet-sweet squash in anything they can get their hands on. From baking with it, to roasting it and eating it plain, to drinking it, to using it as their vegetable serving, whether you are an expert chef, domestic diva, or cooking beginner, we have all the easy and delicious recipes for you to incorporate into your fall dishes.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

In the winter, a lot of nutritious foods are unavailable, especially fruits. Pumpkin is jam-packed full of disease-fighting vitamins and also gives you a lot of health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, and low in fat and calories.

Pumpkin has a lot of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene which are antioxidants that are pro-vitamin A carotenoids. This means that the body converts them into vitamin A to strengthen the immune system and create healthier vision. Alpha-carotene is supposed to slow the aging process, reduce cataract development and prevent tumor growth. Beta-carotene has been proven to reverse skin damage and act as an anti-inflammatory. The carotenoids that both have also lessen the risk of heart disease.

There are 5 grams of fiber per serving and a lot of vitamin C. This reduces bad cholesterol levels, fights against heart disease, and controls blood sugar levels. There is also a lot of potassium that can control blood pressure.

Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

How to Prepare a Pumpkin for Baking

Baking with pumpkins is easy, but you have to do a little bit of prep work first. First you want to cut the pumpkin in half and get rid of the stem and the stringy pulp and seeds. You can save the seeds for later!

Now, you can either bake, boil, or microwave your pumpkin.

To bake your pumpkin, place the two pumpkin halves face down and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one and a half hours, or until you are able to scoop up and mash the pumpkin flesh.

To boil your pumpkin, peel it and cut it into chunks. Place it in a saucepan and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and cook it like you would boil a potato. You want to let the chunks cool and then mash or puree them.

To microwave your pumpkin, microwave the half a pumpkin on high power for seven minutes per pound. You want to cover them and make sure to turn them every few minutes.

Cooking with Pumpkins

You can incorporate pumpkin into almost any type of cuisine. It pairs great with sweet flavors as well as savory dishes. It is a favorite in baking. Try baking a pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pudding, a pumpkin mousse, or gluten free pumpkin muffins. You can even incorporate it into a penny-wise pumpkin pasta recipe for vibrant color and a satisfyingly creamy sauce.

Nothing goes to waste when it comes to pumpkin. You can even toast the pumpkin seeds. These are surprisingly salty and meaty and can be thrown on top of a salad or even eaten plain.

Don't leave out the cocktails! Pumpkin has a not-too-sweet, cinnamon flavor that goes well in a delicious pumpkin martini. Your guests will be surprisingly satisfied with the seasonal twist on a classic favorite.