Oh, I love Halloween! Black hats and black cats and elaborately carved pumpkins can get me cackling like an old witch. It's not the candy that I love, though I still call dibs on any Almond Joys that might be acquired while trick or treating. I love the eerie feeling of the inky black night, the sound of wind scuttling dry leaves along the street. Cute, or gorey, unique and homemade - I love how costumes change a person into something very special just for that night. I love Halloween's bone-chilling mischief as much today as I did when I was 8.
Halloween can present a challenge to parents concerned about proper nutrition, even before the candy is considered. Trick or treaters are too focused on the spooky adventure of collecting the night's haul to be concerned with eating a proper dinner. And frankly, the kids are right; the night is too exciting to think about eating. So don't fight 'em - join 'em!
Give your meal a little Halloween hullabaloo by setting the spookiest table in town. Use festive table linens and service pieces and don't forget candles for that eerie glow. Need some inspiration? That genius Martha Stewart is at the rescue; visit MarthaStewart.com for an infusion of creepiness to your concoctions and crafts.
Serving soup? Forgo the usual bowl and serve it in hollowed out tiny pumpkins or gourds.
Serve green salad or carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing tinted with green food coloring for an eerie effect. Or, for cadaverous cuisine, serve all white food like fettuccini al fredo, cauliflower florets and turnip with ranch dip, and marshmallows.
For a freaky place card or centerpiece, glue eyes of black-eyed peas to long unpeeled carrots, green onions and squash.
The spider web garnish on top of cupcakes, soup or the ever-popular seven-layer dip never gets old. Simply draw circles with icing, sour cream or guacamole on the top surface of the food, then dragging a knifeblade through the rings from the center out to the edges, forming the web.
Dry ice is always a eerie touch for your Halloween décor, inside or out. Add the soundtrack of a moaning ghost, screeching cat and clanging chains and you've got a hauntingly good event under way.
These recipes will add just the right amount of boo buzz to the evening. No coaxing will be necessary, your little goblins and ghouls will eagerly eat these Bat Wings with Drip Sauce and Bloody Fingers. The names alone scream Halloween fun!
Bon appetite! Eat Locally!
Bat Wings with Drip Sauce
Makes 8 servings
24 chicken wings (3 to 4 pounds)
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
6 ounces unsulphured molasses
½ cup dark beef stock
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse and pat chicken wings dry. Stretch out each wing so it resembles a bat's wing. Arrange wings skin side down in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them in one layer.
In a small saucepan heat soy sauce, molasses, stock and ginger over low heat until molasses is dissolved. Pour evenly over wings. Bake wings 30 minutes, then turn over and bake another 30 minutes, or until sauce is thick and sticky. Serve mounded around a bowl of Drip Sauce.
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce (like Tabasco)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat the sauce over medium heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
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A five-ingredient entrée ready in 30 minutes or less!
These are a Halloween tradition at the Randall House.
1 ½ cups ketchup
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup finely chopped onion (optional)
¼ cup bourbon or whiskey (optional)
Few drops of Tabasco
1 ½ pounds miniature smoked link sausages or cocktail franks
Place ketchup, brown sugar, onions, whiskey and Tabasco in a saucepan. Stir until the sugar is melted. Add the franks and heat through. Transfer to a chafing dish and serve with toothpicks.
Cook's Note: Rather eat spiders? Take a small knife and cut each frank about halfway up, to make legs. Roll the frank 90 degrees and cut again. Put into the sauce and watch the finger spread into a spider.