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. It is served hot. 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 could also add a hot cheese sauce and serve like fondue, with long forks and pieces of bread.

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.

Homemade 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.

“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 just 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 they 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.  You can separate the drums before serving, if you like. Makes eating a little easier. 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

A pile of “bat” wings

Caramel Apples

Caramel Apple dipped in Pumpkin Seeds

Making caramel apples is a wonderful childhood memory for me. Every Autumn, we would make a batch. We used those little store-bought caramels. I was often the one tasked with unwrapping them. I can remember unwrapping one after the other. It seemed to take forever.

I wanted to make my own caramel, so that is what I did. It is so much better than the store-bought version.

Caramel is not that hard to make. You do need to keep an eye on it. Stir constantly. Just a hint, be sure your candy thermometer is really secure. Mine was a little slippy on the pan I was using. At one point the thermometer slid into the caramel. Not what you want to have happen!!!

Once dipped in the caramel, you can dip the bottom of the apples in nuts, pumpkin seeds, sprinkles, cereal, or even popcorn.

Homemade Caramel Apples

1/2 c. butter, cut in cubes

2 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. corn syrup*

pinch of salt

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 t. vanilla

8-12 apples

chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, cereal, sprinkles, popcorn for dipping the bottoms of the caramel apples, optional

In heavy saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, syrup and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 minutes. Add milk and bring mixture up to 248 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Place a Popsicle stick, skewer or chopstick down the center of each apple. Dip apples in the caramel, allowing excess to drip off- or not. Dip bottoms of apples into nuts, seeds or whatever ingredient you picked. Place on wax paper and allow to set up. If you don’t want to dip the bottoms in anything, place the dipped apples on lightly buttered wax paper. Cool before serving. Makes 8-12 caramel apples.

Note: You could also use pears in the recipe.

*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.

Halloween “Spooky” Sushi

Spooky 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.

Spooky” Sushi

To make the rice:

4 c. black sweet rice, uncooked

4 c. water, or a little more

1 recipe Sushi Su, recipe follows

finely shredded carrots

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.

“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.

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