Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts

Monday, October 29, 2012

Witches and Ghostly Wisps -- Oh My!

When I wrote The Diva Haunts the House, I immersed myself in all things spooky and ghostly. To that end, I visited a haunted sanatorium, St. Albans Psychiatric Hospital, in Radford, Virginia. My friend, Amy, who is always game for interesting adventures agreed to go with me.

My father worked in the radiology department at St. Albans when I was a child. I still have a vivid memory going there with him once. The front doors closed behind us and locked before the doors in front of us opened. That's a very eerie feeling. One that I didn't experience again until I visited someone in jail.

The hospital was abandoned some years ago. Originally built as a boys' school in 1892, it's a huge, sprawling building that sits high on a hill. From the other side of the river, it looks, or used to look, like an elegant mansion.

These days, it's downright spooky with broken windows and peeling paint. But remnants of former beauty remain -- the broad main staircase and huge moldings hint at better times for the building.




St. Albans has been the focus of a number of paranormal investigations, some of which you may have seen on television.  It even has its own Facebook page and Twitter page!  

This amazing video was taken at St. Albans by Grave Concerns Paranormal.  

Seven Hills Paranormal Society says St. Albans is the most active site they have investigated.  They specifically mention shadow people and unexplained noises.  Investigators from Seven Hills, as well as many other individuals, have reported that someone touched them when no one else was there.  Hearing voices and footsteps is not uncommon.  Assorted paranormal investigators have recorded eerie electronic voice phenomenon and have seen apparitions.


It's a little bit creepy to visit a haunted site to begin with and St. Albans certainly doesn't need any dressing up to make it scary. There are narrow stairways, and lock down wards, and plenty of stories about water that turns on and off, and people who felt someone touch them. Nurses are said to have spent their shifts sitting on the stairs at night, checking on patients only when necessary. It would be easy for someone unfamiliar with the building to get lost, which would be scary indeed.

The photo above was taken when the lights were turned off in the bowling alley. I thought for sure that if anything weird showed up in my photographs, it would be there. As you can see, there's nothing sinister.

So Amy and I drove home, sad to see the state of the old building. Neither of us heard anything odd, felt a cold entity, or were "touched" by a ghost. End of story, right?

A year later, I pulled out the photos that I took, looking for some to use. It was the first time I had viewed them full screen. Maybe we weren't as alone as we thought!
 
This is radiology. Do you see the wisp in the air at 11 o'clock?

This is the wisp enlarged. You can see that it is partly in front of the open cabinet door, so it's not a stain on the wall.


Fear not, the ghosts haven't made me forget a recipe! This frosting makes enough for witch cupcakes but if you are like my friend who thinks the cake is really only something to hold the frosting, then you might want to double the recipe.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened powdered chocolate like Pensey’s
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Reese's Peanut Butter Cups minis

Combine flour, powdered chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and blend well with a small whisk or a fork.

Cream butter with sugar. Add each egg and beat well. Add the flour mixture in small amounts, alternating with the milk. Beat in the vanilla.

Divide between cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. Insert a Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the center of each cupcake and push down into the cupcake batter just a bit. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.



Peanut Butter Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar



Allow butter to come to room temperature. Cream it with the peanut butter. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until desired consistency is reached.



Witch Cupcakes

These can be made with any cupcake. I added a little bit of turmeric to the frosting to give the witches a yellowish tint, but green would be very cute, too.

I have to say that these were fun to make and very easy. If you baked the cupcakes and made the frosting ahead of time, this would be a fun project for kids. I would just set bowls of the candies on the table and let them create. I bet they would come up with spectacular witches!

Tootsie Rolls
Oreos
Green Mini M&Ms
Red Jolly Ranchers
Peel and Strip Twizzlers
Mini chocolate chips

Twist an Oreo cookie apart. Scrape off the white middle and save. Cut each cookie in half.




Roll out a Tootsie Roll. If it sticks to your cutting board, just slide a knife underneath it to loosen. Cut a triangle for the top of the hat.


Place one half of an oreo cookie about 1/3 of the way down as the brim of the hat. Place the hat above it. I bent them a little bit to add character.



Add two green mini M&Ms as eyes.



 Mold two small pieces of leftover Tootsie Roll as eyebrows. If you place them close together and slant them a little, they look menacing.


 Cut off a tiny bit of the Oreo middle and mold it into a cone for the nose.


 Cut a thin piece off a red Jolly Rancher and mold it into a frown. Add strands of Twizzler for hair, and of course, a mini chocolate chip wart.


 When I was all through, I was disappointed by my grouchy group of witches.


So I turned their frowns upside down and lifted their eyebrows. Much better! These are exactly the same cupcakes.


Witches not right for your little goblins? The instructions for my Vampire Cupcakes are over at Cozy Mystery Book Reviews.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ghost Cheese Cupcakes for Halloween

    Halloween...

It's creepy and it's kooky,
mysterious and spooky...

But isn't it fun?!

Colorful, decorative, with memories that make you shiver, laugh, and howl.

Did you run down the street when you went trick or treating?


 Did you play pranks or were you the polite person who said please and thank you after "Trick or treat"?

Did you love wearing masks? Did you shun them because you couldn't breathe?

Did you have the one friend who loved to jump from around corners and scare the spit out of you?

What was your favorite candy? What candy did you absolutely hate?

Did you ever perform in a Halloween play? Do you like books about ghouls, ghosts, witches, the paranormal? Do you like a regular book that has a slightly paranormal element?  Did you love the TV show Bewitched?

Have these questions made you wade through memories? If so, mission accomplished. I did, too. And I've been smiling throughout.

One of the other things I remember is having Halloween parties. Pizza, candy, orange-colored everything.  Cupcakes should always be part of a party, don't you think? And if you can make them "spooky" for Halloween, all the better.

I got these cute cupcake liners (up, to the left) at, of all places, Barnes and Noble bookstore. Aren't they adorable? There were enough for 2 dozen cupcakes. I made one dozen cupcakes and a 9 x 9 sheet cake, so I still have a dozen cupcake decorations for next year. Yay!

Note: This recipe will make 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 dozen cupcakes and one 9 x 9 cake. Perfect for kids and adults.


GHOST CHEESE CUPCAKES
GLUTEN-FREE

INGREDIENTS:

         1 1/2 cups sweet white rice flour
         3/4 cup tapioca flour
         1 teaspoon Kosher salt
         1 teaspoon baking soda
         3 teaspoons baking powder
         1 teaspoon xanthan gum
         4 eggs
         1 1/4 cups white sugar
         2/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise (GF)
         1 cup milk
         2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


Mix the sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and xanthan gum together and set aside.

Mix the eggs, sugar, and mayonnaise until fluffy. 

Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture. Mix well again.

Using soup ladle, pour batter into the cupcakes liners. 

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15-17 minutes. 
Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched 
or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Put on wire rack to cool so they don’t get “moist” on the bottom.

Let cool completely then frost, if desired.

FROSTING:
4 oz. goat cheese  - room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese – room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (more if necessary)
½ cup pure maple syrup

Mix all in a blender. 

May be saved in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.


NOTE: this recipe can be made "normally". Just replace the flour with regular flour and don't use the xanthan gum. And you can use real vanilla




 Boo!





We're having mini-CONTESTS some days this week. 
Leave a comment TODAY answering one of the questions above, 
and you'll be entered for today's contest. 
I'm giving away these perfect-for-fall coasters! 
Absorbent, made by "Counter Art."
Not scary at all.








The winner will be announced in a post right before midnight tonight, EDT.





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