For Sandra Lee, as for so many others, Halloween is about more than food.
The cooking and lifestyle expert has a separate program for the annual trick-or-treating occasion. Her Food Network special "Sandra's Halloween Wonderland" debuts Sunday, Oct. 23, and its star cites it -- with obvious pleasure -- as an elaborate production.
"I'm kind of known for my holiday specials," Lee says, "and I do as much as I can to make them fantasies. My Halloween specials are the ones that are always nominated for Emmys, because the costumes are so amazing, and so are the hair and makeup.
"There are about three of us who really put these specials together. I visited these locations three different times. I found all the furniture and flew to L.A. and got all the costumes and wigs, so it was pretty intense."
Lee admits she was inspired by director Tim Burton's 2010 "Alice in Wonderland" movie.
"It was just so festive and fun," she says, "and I wanted to do characters and costumes that were over the top. I also play the Mad Hatter, and I talk to myself ... which is funny." Additionally, Lee appears as Cher and Lucille Ball.
And, of course, Halloween-flavored recipes are included. "You can't have a Halloween party without magical mushrooms," Lee notes. "They're meringue cookies atop peppermint sticks in little terra-cotta pots. And the Mad Hatter closes with a Wonderland cocktail."
The significant other of Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, "Semi-Homemade Cooking" and "Sandra's Money Saving Meals" host Lee appreciates that her audience goes along with her flights of fancy.
"Life is so short, and there's enough going on that's not so easy to deal with," she reasons, "that if you have an hour you can take and just enjoy it, and get some entertainment value and learn something, why not?"
What are you reading?
"These days, I am reading 'Prime Time' by Jane Fonda. I saw her interviewed, and I just loved it so much and how she really communicated what she wanted to share in the book, I had to buy it. I like reading about journeys and spirituality and how to best live your life."
What did you have for dinner last night?
"Italian sausage from a slow cooker, with marinara ... but I didn't have to cook it!" (Cuomo did.)
What is your next project?
"I am working on a home and garden book, which comes out in April."
What was your last trip (when and why)?
"In July, I went to France for a week and took my niece, because she's going to study abroad for her junior year of college. She wants to intern with Doctors of the World and did the interview, and she was accepted. And she also was accepted to the Sorbonne. It'll change her life."