halloween recipes

“Pumpkin” Cheese Dip

“Pumpkin” Cheese Dip

This is a pretty way to serve dips this time of year. The dip bakes inside the pumpkin- and the pumpkin bakes, too. Fun for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or just movie night with the family.

It really is simple and could be filled with any number of combinations of cheesy goodness. I have included the recipe I used in the picture. I also included my recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Dip, to give you another option.

You just get a pie pumpkin, about 2-3 lbs. Cut off the top to make a lid and scoop out the seeds, like you would if you were making a Jack-o-Lantern. Wipe off the outside and then just fill it up with the dip mixture. Put the lid back on, bake for an hour, and you are good to go. The fun part is scraping some of the cooked pumpkin in with the cheese dip. More detailed directions follow.

So here is the recipe for making the cheesy filled pumpkin. I think it is simple enough to serve anytime, not just on a holiday. Enjoy!!

“Pumpkin” Cheese Dip

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off top of pumpkin. Cut in at an angle, so top will fit like a lid and not fall in.  Set top aside. Scoop out seeds and clean out any stringy bits*.  Set pumpkin on a baking sheet. Combine cheese filling of your choice and place inside the pumpkin.  Place the top of the pumpkin back on the pumpkin, and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour. Remove pumpkin and place on heat proof dish. I used a glass pie plate. Remove lid. Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Smoky Cheese Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed

4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ c. sour cream

¼ c. mayo

¼ c. chopped parsley

½ t. each cumin and smoked paprika

Pinch of nutmeg

½ c. hulled pumpkin seeds

In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients, except the seeds. Place this mixture in the pumpkin when ready to bake. Don’t add the pumpkin seeds until right before serving. Stir them in a little, if you like.

Another nice choice…….

Spinach  and Artichoke Dip

1 (12-14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed

4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

½ c. diced onion

¼ c. Italian dressing

Dash of hot sauce

In medium bowl, combine dip ingredients, stirring to combine. Place in pumpkin when ready to bake.

* You can rinse off the seeds, lightly salt them and toast them, if you like. Then serve with the pumpkin dip. If you aren’t interested in eating them- please put them outside for the birds to eat.

Spooky Goo Drink

Spooky Goo Drink

If you want a fun beverage to serve for Halloween, try this Spooky Goo Drink. It’s easy to make and will give guests a start. It’s fun for kids and adults.

The secret is Jell-o. Make whatever flavor Jell-o you like. Once it is firm, mash it with a fork into small pieces.

Place some of the mashed up  Jell-o in a glass and add ice and whatever beverage you like. I used cherry Jell-o with sour cherry soda. The Jell-o is invisible that way.

When your guests take a drink, they get little gobs of Jell-o in every sip. You can also play with color combinations for fun. Grape Jell-o with orange soda looks like little black globs in the drink.  Kids love it.

You can make it with Jell-o shots, for the grown-ups. Or add the mashed up Jell-o to adult beverages. You can also add the Jell-o to a punch bowl or pitcher of drinks.

Mash Jell-o with a fork

Mash Jell-o with a fork

Add some Jell-o to the glass before adding ice and soda

Add some Jell-o to the glass before adding ice and soda

“Bat” Wings

Bat “Wings”

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought I’d share this recipe for bat wings. OK, not really bat wings, but you already knew that. I add black food coloring to barbecue sauce and use it to color chicken wings.

I made a batch for a Halloween party a few years ago and someone actually asked if there were real bat wings. A word of warning- when you use black food coloring it will transfer to you. No matter how careful you are when you eat the wings, you’ll end up with purple fingers.  Also, for the best effect keep the wings intact- no trimming off of the tips.  They look pretty cool when set out on the table. Creepy- but very tasty.

Bat Wings

2-3 lbs. whole chicken wings

salt and pepper

1 c. barbecue sauce- store bought or home made

black food coloring- handle carefully- it stains

Place chicken wings in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in medium bowl combine sauce with food coloring. Add just a little black food coloring at a time. Too much will alter the flavor of the food. Remove wings from the oven and dip them in the bowl of sauce. Turn to coat. Place wings on a clean baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake an addition 45 minutes. You can baste them with additional sauce during the baking, if you like.  Place on a serving platter and provide plenty of napkins.

A pile of “bat” wings

Candy Spiders

Candy Spider

If you are looking for a quick spooky decoration/treat idea, you might want to make some candy spiders. These are about the size of a tarantula. Super simple, and kids can make them, too. You only need a few ingredients.

The body is made from marshmallows, the legs are chow mein noodles and the eyes are small candies. Sixlets work well.

I used melting chocolate, but you can use any kind of chocolate you like. To start, melt some chocolate. Dip the chow mein noodles in the chocolate and tap gently to remove excess. I leave one end un-dipped to make it easier to stick in the marshmallow later. Allow to harden up before going to the next step. I set them on a flexible cutting board, but wax paper is good, too. You have to peel them off later, a flexible surface is best. You’ll need 8 for each spider- so be sure to make enough. Allow for breakage.  Set a marshmallow flat side down and poke 4 holes in each side, 8 total. I used a bamboo skewer. Stick a noodle “leg” in each hole. Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow until coated. Whatever drips off can be re-melted and used again. While the chocolate is still soft, press 2 candy eyes into place. Hold them for a minute to be sure they are secure. Now, you can decorate cakes with them, use them on a dessert tray- or just eat them.

Chow mein noodle legs

Chow mein noodle legs

Insert legs into marshmallow

Insert legs into marshmallow

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls

Homemade Popcorn Balls

I have fond memories of eating popcorn balls when I was a kid. One memory was during the summer. An amusement park near my home was famous for their popcorn balls. Every time we went there, we would end the day with popcorn balls.

The other memory was making our own, around Halloween. They seem to be a part of more than a few Halloween parties when I was younger.

I don’t make them often, but popcorn balls are always a special treat for friends and family. This recipe is pretty easy. Kids, supervised, could help make them. You just have to make sure the mix cools down enough before you let them form the popcorn into balls.

I am a bit of a purist and enjoy them plain, but you can add Halloween themed candies to the mix, to dress them  up for a party. Candy corn or black and orange M&M’s would both work.

The recipe calls for corn syrup. If you don’t want to use corn syrup, my recipe for a corn syrup substitute, (sugar syrup) is listed below.

Homemade Popcorn Balls

9 c. popped popcorn
1 c. sugar
1 T. butter
1 T. vanilla
1 c. corn syrup*

Place popcorn in large bowl and set aside. Combine sugar, butter, vanilla and corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat and boil until thick, about 4 minutes. Pour over popcorn. Stir until well coated. Let cool until safe enough to handle. With buttered hands form mixture into balls. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap until ready to eat. Best eaten within a few days of making. Makes about 8.

*If you don’t have corn syrup- or don’t want to use it here is a way to make a substitute for it.

Sugar Syrup- corn syrup substitute

3  cups granulated sugar

1 cup Water

1/2  tsp. Cream of Tartar

1/4 t. salt

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook to soft-ball stage. Stir frequently.

Soft ball stage occurs at 235-245 degrees. This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water.

Remove from heat. Cool and store at room temperature. It will keep well for a month or two.

Vampire Chasers- Cheesy Garlic Toast

Vampire Chasers

If you are concerned about keeping away vampires this Halloween, you might want to make this recipe for cheesy garlic toast. Garlic is widely accepted as a repellent for vampires- and a lot less messy than a stake through the heart.

This is one of my favorite appetizers. I make them a few times a year, but they are extra fun to serve at a Halloween party.

A mixture of garlic and onions are cooked in butter, then spread over the bread slices. That would be plenty for most garlic bread- but you take it up a notch with a cheesy/ mayo mix on top. They are baked for just a few minutes to get all toasty. These are always a hit. They can be served as an appetizer, or as a side with dinner.

Vampire Chasers

1 French baguette, cut into 3/4 inch diagonal slices
1 large minced onion
8 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
Slice the French baguettes diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Combine the onions and garlic in the skillet. Cook and stir until tender. Set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and mayonnaise. On a cookie sheet, arrange the French bread slices in a single layer. Spread the onion and garlic mixture on the bread slices. Spread the cheese and mayonnaise mixture over the onion and garlic mixture on the bread slices. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or broil about 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Halloween Quesadillas

Halloween Quesadillas

OK, maybe I’m taking the whole Halloween theme too far. I was making quesadillas the other day, and realized that the ingredients were black, orange and green. Thought the combination would be perfect for a Halloween party.

Quesadillas are a fun party food already, and by using black olives, orange sweet peppers, green chilies, onions and cheddar cheese  they fit in well with the color scheme for Halloween. They taste great, too, which is always the most important thing in the end.

I pan fried these, but you can also bake them in the oven. They can be made ahead, and warmed up before serving. Serve with a nice blood- red salsa. Ok, I’ll stop now.

Halloween Quesadillas

Large flour tortillas

oil

sliced or shredded cheese

sliced black olives

chopped orange sweet peppers

chopped sweet onion

diced green chilies, fresh or canned

Mix olives with veggies and set aside. Place tortilla on work surface and spread one half with some of the veggie mixture. Top with some of the cheese and fold over. Press slightly. Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Heat oil in skillet and cook quesadillas over medium heat until golden on both sides and heated through. Remove to cutting board and cut into wedges before serving. Serve on a platter with sour cream and salsa, if desired.

Note: If you would rather bake the quesadillas assemble as directed above. Place on a baking sheet and brush with a little oil. Bake in a preheated  425 degree oven until golden, about 15 minutes.

Spooky Sushi

Black Rice and Carrot Sushi

When I make sushi, I often use brown or black sticky (sweet) rice. I actually prefer the texture over the white rice. It occurred to me that the black sticky rice might make fun sushi for Halloween. I find black sweet rice at my local Asian grocery store. That is also where I get nori, rolling mats and wasabi.

To add a pop of color, I finely shredded carrots and added them to the sushi roll, too. The black rice actually cooks to a dark purple color. The color combination is fun for Halloween.

You’ll need a rolling mat, but beyond that, not a lot of special equipment is needed. I served my sushi with wasabi. You could serve with pickled ginger, too. Here is the recipe and directions.

To make the rice:

4 c. black sweet rice, uncooked

4 c. water, or a little more

1 recipe Sushi Su, recipe follows

In strainer, rinse the rice repeatedly with cold water until the water runs clear. Place rice in microwave safe container with the 4 cups of cold water. Cover container with a lid and place in microwave. I use a large Pyrex casserole dish that has a lid.  Cook 20 minutes. Check for doneness and add a little more water, if needed. Cook another 10-15 minutes. Don’t stir the rice. Black rice takes longer to cook than white sushi rice. You want it to be cooked, but not mushy. Cooking times vary by microwave. Remove from the microwave once cooked and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Place rice in a large, cool bowl and pour on the Sushi Su, tossing in. Fan rice while tossing to give it a shiny look.  Makes enough for 8 rolls.

 Sushi Su:

1/2 cup rice vinegar

4 T. sugar

1/2 t. salt

msg, optional

Combine all and set aside until ready to use. You can also buy a dry powder of Sushi Su and you can use that instead. It is a 2.65 oz. packet.

Assembling Sushi

Place a sheet of nori ( dried seaweed sheets) on mat and spread about 1 cup of the rice over the nori, leaving about 1-2 inches empty on the far side. Place fillings in a strip a little off center away from the side with no rice. Start rolling up the mat using it to press the sushi roll and keeping the fillings in the nori. Once rolled, press the mat once more to seal and make the fillings stick together. Wetting the edge of the nori with a little water can also make the sushi stick better. Slice each piece using a sharp knife dipped in water.

Wrapping the sushi takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if the first few are a little less that perfect, Still, with a little practice it gets pretty easy. Just be careful not to overfill the rolls as it makes the job harder.

Vampire Chasers-Cheesy Garlic Toast

Vampire Chasers

If you are concerned about keeping away vampires this Halloween, you might want to make this recipe for cheesy garlic toast. Garlic is widely accepted as a repellent for vampires- and a lot less messy than a stake through the heart.

This is one of my favorite appetizers. I make them a few times a year, but they are extra fun to serve at a Halloween party.

A mixture of garlic and onions are cooked in butter, then spread over the bread slices. That would be plenty for most garlic bread- but you take it up a notch with a cheesy/ mayo mix on top. Baked for just a few minutes- these are always a hit. They can be served as an appetizer, or as a side with dinner.

Vampire Chasers

1 French baguette, cut into 3/4 inch diagonal slices
1 large minced onion
8 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
Slice the French baguettes diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Combine the onions and garlic in the skillet. Cook and stir until tender. Set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and mayonnaise. On a cookie sheet, arrange the French bread slices in a single layer. Spread the onion and garlic mixture on the bread slices. Spread the cheese and mayonnaise mixture over the onion and garlic mixture on the bread slices. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or broil about 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Homemade Popcorn Balls

Homemade Popcorn Balls

In a recent cooking camp with kids, we made popcorn balls. They loved making them. I was surprised that several kids had no idea what a popcorn ball was, before we made them in class.

We used to make them around Halloween, when I was a kid. They seem to be a part of more than a few Halloween parties when I was younger.

I don’t make them often, but popcorn balls are always a special treat for friends and family.

This recipe is pretty easy. Kids, supervised, could help make them. You just have to make sure the mix cools down enough before you let them form the popcorn into balls.

I am a bit of a purist and enjoy them plain, but you can add Halloween themed candies to the mix, to dress them  up for a party. Candy corn or black and orange M&M’s would both work.

The recipe calls for corn syrup. If you don’t want to use corn syrup, my recipe for a corn syrup substitute, (sugar syrup) is listed below.

Homemade Popcorn Balls

9 c. popped popcorn
1 c. sugar
1 T. butter
1 T. vanilla
1 c. corn syrup*

Place popcorn in large bowl and set aside. Combine sugar, butter, vanilla and corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat and boil until thick, about 4 minutes. Pour over popcorn. Stir until well coated. Let cool until safe enough to handle. With buttered hands form mixture into balls. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap until ready to eat. Best eaten within a few days of making. Makes about 8.

*If you don’t have corn syrup- or don’t want to use it here is a way to make a substitute for it.

Sugar Syrup- corn syrup substitute

3  cups granulated sugar

1 cup Water

1/2  tsp. Cream of Tartar

1/4 t. salt

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook to soft-ball stage. Stir frequently.

Soft ball stage occurs at 235-245 degrees. This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water.

Remove from heat. Cool and store at room temperature. It will keep well for a month or two.

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