In search of some Halloween TV that didn't include blood and gore, my three-year-old and I finally chose the Food Network on Sunday afternoon. After a blood-sugar-rush special on the All-Candy Expo, Sandra Lee was throwing a Halloween party in a rented mansion for her Semi-Homemade show. I was lazy. And I love parties. So I kept watching.
I can't stand the show for many reasons, not least of which is Sandra's love for her beautemous self. She had at least five costume changes, none of which looked so much like the thing she was dressing up as, as the costume that a showgirl might wear if she were appearing as (for instance) a princess, or a sugar-plum fairy. Gag.
But why I really can't stand the show: it would be far easier, not to mention vastly cheaper, not to mention far healthier for your party guests, to make things really homemade instead of Semi-Homemade.
Let's take her pumpkin cheesecake petit fours. I imagined she'd take a cheesecake mix and add some canned pumpkin. Not Sandra Lee. She painstakingly made teensy tart shells out of a mixture of sugar cookie mix, cream cheese, and a panoply of other ingredients, far more than belong in traditional pâte sucrée. This would take a normal cook an hour, if not more, for the 12 or 15 mini tart shells (which would feed, I'd imagine, three or four party guests).
Then we come to the filling. I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head when she pulled out a storebought pumpkin pie and started scooping out the innards. "Save the shell and crumble it on ice cream!" she trilled. "This is so easy!"
She poured heavy cream into the bowl containing the pumpkin pie guts, and then pulled out a storebought cheesecake (approximate price at Costco: $12.99). And started scooping out its guts, too, to go in a separate bowl, also mixed with a bit of whipping cream. "This crust can go on ice cream, too!" she said, her voice getting higher-pitched with each word.
OK, so this is ridiculous. But then... the tour de force. Three. Separate. Piping. Bags. Made, of course, out of large plastic Ziplock bags, useless after their last hurrah distributing $25 worth of pumpkin cheesecake filling into 12 tiny tart shells. For some reason, see, Sandra felt it necessary to have some filled with both pumpkin AND cheesecake, some with just pumpkin, some with just cheesecake.
Why? Why? Why? It would have been just as quick to make tart crusts from flour, butter and water, and mix cream cheese with pumpkin puree and sugar. No, quicker. It would have cost $4 or $5 instead of $25 or $30. And it would have probably tasted better. What is the point, Sandra?
I won't even get into the Green Ghoulade, made with green Gatorade, limeade, and... oh, God, I can't even finish typing this crap. Sandra, please, find a new career as a showgirl and leave the cooking to people who actually cook.