31 days of Halloween – Welcome Julie Jansen

BRAINS! What to make with your brain gelatin mold.
October is my favorite month for one simple reason. I love Halloween! I’m a horror writer and maybe that’s why the spookiest time of the year is the one I so look forward to. It’s been my favorite holiday since as long as I can remember. I go all out decorating the house, sending Halloween cards, getting busy with zombie conventions and the Coffin Hop Horror Blog Tour, and deciding what costume to wear. I also have a blast cooking up creepy Halloween recipes, especially ones where I can break out the brain gelatin mold and conjure up some brain-shaped concoctions!
The zombie brain gelatin mold pictured above is just one of a few different types on the market. You can even order your own free brain mold from Kraft Foods through the month of October, while supplies last. Kraft also has several great recipes you can make with your mold.
Skyler (my little cousin) with Frankenstein’s Brain, a recipe from the Kraft Foods website that includes lime jell-o, cream cheese, and pretzels. It looks great, but we found the taste wasn’t spook-tacular.
My crazy Halloween recipes sometimes inspire my horror stories. Food’s at the center of a few of them. In 100 Calorie Snack Pack, the secret to being thin resides in a creepy little corner of Chinatown and involves something not very appetizing at all. In One Buck Horror: Volume One, my story The Ginger Men deals with Georgie’s mother cooking up a special recipe for Georgie’s father. The recipe includes a spice the neighborhood Pampered Chef-type lady sells to her customers. It’s a spice that makes whatever dish it’s added to super spooky in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of way!
My family unit. From left to right: Drake, Julie, Grant, and Jason with brain food.
You can use your brain mold to make some ghastly-looking treats that are super tasty. Not all of these involve gelatin.
Here are some of my favorite brain recipes, which also happen to be very simple!
Garlic mashed potato brain
These mashed potatoes are a great item for a Halloween potluck!
What you’ll need:
10-15 medium-sized red potatoes
1-2 heads of garlic
2 eggs (Separate the yolks from the egg whites. You’ll use both.)
Salt and pepper
Paprika (optional)
In this recipe you won’t bake the potato mixture in the brain mold. You’ll use the mold only to shape the mashed potato brain, then pop the potato mixture out onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. It’s important to spray the brain mold with cooking spray so the potatoes will slip easily from the mold.
Start with the garlic. Cut the top off the head (or heads) of garlic. Wrap in tinfoil and drizzle the garlic with olive oil. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour.
In the meantime, boil the potatoes. Peel them when cooked and mash with a potato masher.
When cool, squeeze the baked garlic out of the papery garlic head, and mix with the mashed potatoes. Discard the papery part. Add butter and salt and pepper. Mix in the egg yolks.
Spoon the mixture into the greased brain mold. Pack well.
Flip the mold onto the foil-lined cookie sheet and tap until the potato brain comes loose.
Gently brush the potato brain with egg whites.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the potato brain is lightly browned.
Sprinkle with paprika and serve.
Orange jell-o brain
This is a simple brain recipe. It comes out a beautiful orange color and the mandarin orange segments make it extra yummy.
You’ll need:
2 – 6 oz. packages orange-flavored jell-o
2 small cans mandarin orange segments, drained
1 ¾ c boiling water
¾ c cold water
Make sure to spray the brain mold with cooking spray.
Mix the jell-o and boiling water. Stir a couple of minutes until the jell-o is dissolved. Add the cold water. Pour into the brain mold.
Add the oranges to the jell-o mixture. Let set in the refrigerator at least four hours. 
You might need to run a knife around the edge of the jell-o to loosen it from the mold before flipping it over onto a plate.
You can try a variation on the orange jell-o brain using raspberry jell-o and a 21-oz bag of frozen sweetened raspberries. Delicious!
Chocolate Whip Brain
This is yummy! It tastes like hot chocolate with marshmallows!
What you’ll need:
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk
3 packets plain gelatin
½ cup cold water
Melt 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup milk in a double boiler, then add a mixture of 3 packets plain gelatin that you’ve dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water. Let that cool to room temperature, then mix with 1 cup of whipped cream. Pour the mixture into the brain mold and let chill until set, about four hours.
Mac n’ cheese brain
This one doesn’t necessarily come out looking like a brain, but does have a wormy sort of appearance. Since most of us have a box or two of macaroni and cheese in the cupboard, if you’re looking for a quick gross-out Halloween potluck item that tastes great, why not give this a try?
What you’ll need:
2 packages macaroni and cheese (any brand will do)
1 small package grated cheese (such as cheddar or mozzarella)
Make the macaroni and cheese according to the instructions on the box. When cooked and the cheese sauce has been mixed in, add the grated cheese. The grated cheese, when the macaroni mixture cools a bit, will help the mac n’ cheese brain to stay together.
Have fun with the brain recipes! Happy Halloween!
Julie Jansen spends gloomy Pacific Northwest days writing spooky stories when she’s not teaching Italian. Her stories have appeared in One Buck Horror, Twit Publishing’s PULP! Anthology, Fear and Trembling Magazine, and State of Imagination. She’s an associate editor for Dark Moon Digest and co-organizer of The Coffin Hop, a Halloween blog tour for horror writers. You can visit her site at www.juliejansen.blogspot.com, or The Coffin Hop at www.coffinhop.blogspot.com