Posts tagged Halloween

5 Ways to Use Halloween Cookie Cutters

Halloween cookie cutters picForget the cookies. You can use Halloween cookie cutters for so much more. They’re an easy way to turn a ho-hum PB&J into a fun lunch surprise. (Well, we make PB&A sandwiches around our house–my youngest prefers agave over jam.)

 

Other ways to use cookie cutters:

•Make Halloween tortilla chips–baked or fried
Pack day-old rice into the cookie cutter and then serve it on each person’s plate
•Place one on each person’s dessert plate and then sprinkle with cocoa powder to leave an outline of the Halloween shape
•Press into hot-off-the pan grilled cheese sandwich
•Cook pancakes then press in the Halloween shape

 

Halloween Cookie Cutter Cat pic

 

 

 

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Halloween Rodent Ragu

Going for a gross-out dinner this Halloween! Break out the meatball mix, then.

Rat meatballs on plate

This recipe didn’t start out as a Halloween meal. See, I had this great idea a few years ago that we’d study a different animal for two weeks at a time. To finish off our studies we’d have a meal where we focused on whatever animal the kids chose and we’d talk about what we learned. Well, the first animal my kids chose was a snake. I can’t remember what the kids learned about snakes–nope, what I remember is that my husband had this great idea to fashion meatball mix into rodents for our big meal. Now, we make these meatball rats to top spaghetti for Halloween each year.

 

You can too.

rat meatball on spaghetti

Here’s how it works:

  1. Use your favorite meatball recipe (I like The Pioneer Woman‘s)
  2. Shape the meatball mix into rodent shapes–rounded back side and a more pointed front
  3. BAKE the meatballs with pieces of olives for eyes and pieces of ham as the tails
  4. Serve the rodents over spaghetti topped with pasta sauce

Single rat meatball

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Spider cupcakes and more Halloween goodies

Our house was full of princesses, fairies, and a vampire this weekend. My youngest planned out her own Halloween party, from sending out the invitations to planning games and setting up a spook alley. My assignment was to take care of food (yes!). I had planned a dramatic spread of various creepy crawies. But after failing in my original cupcake idea I took my daughter’s lead and kept things simple.

The key: labeling your food with gross names and letting the kids take it from there. They were adding mustard to their mummy dogs, saying, “What should we call this?” “Ghost boogers,” said one (probably my daughter). “Or Goblin drool?”

Here are a few ideas if you’re planning your own monster bash:

The alien cupcakes were way too sticky

Spider cupcakes. I tried making the awesome alien cupcakes from Betty Crocker, but I just couldn’t manage to get the Kix cereal-marshmallow mix right. My “aliens” ended up instead as “alien brains” on our Halloween buffet. (See directions below for the cupcakes.)

Spider parts. Cooked mini spaghetti noodles topped with poppy seeds.

Eyeballs. Whole black olives.

Mummy brains. Cheddar cheese rice cakes.

Mummy dogs. Hotdogs wrapped in crescent roll dough, then baked. The recipe calls for you to make mustard “eyes” but I ran out of time–I noticed the kids didn’t even notice.

To make your spider cupcakes:

  • Bake one cake mix using the directions for cupcakes. (I ended up with 24.)
  • Top each cupcake with frosting of your choice.
  • Melt 3/4 cups chocolate chips in the microwave.
  • Use a spoon to place the melted chocolate in the corner of a thick, Ziploc bag. Make a small cut in the corner of the bag.
  • Create chocolate spiders: on the frosted cupcakes make a dot on the center. Then draw with the chocolate four legs on each side of the dot.
  • Place a mini, orange Nilla Wafer on the top of each dot (this is a great job for kiddos), then add two, small chocolate dots for eyes on each.

One more idea: You can also create spider webs to add to your cupcake display. I had extra melted chocolate left over so I made the webs on waxed paper (looking at images on my iPhone of spider webs as a guide), let them harden and then carefully peeled them away from the paper.

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Halloween chocolate sugar cookies

Instead of decorating the usual sugar cookies for Halloween–what about starting with a chocolate dough? I used this recipe to make my Harry Potter sorting hat cookies, but the intense chocolatey, workable dough is perfect for any kind of cookie cut-outs. I used my Halloween linzer cookie maker to craft my cookies.

I’ve been packing these in my kids’ lunch bags all week.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate butter cookie dough

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion Cookbook

Yield: Depends;)

Prep time: 30 minutes + baking, fridge time

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cocoa (*see note below)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 butter at room temperature (not margarine)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

1/2 Tablespoon honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Vanilla frosting

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together.
  2. Add the egg, water, honey and extract (if using) to the butter mixture. Blend well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. *Note: to get the dark color try using Hershey’s special dark cocoa at the grocers or order dark cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour.
  4. Gently mix the dry ingredients gently into the batter just until incorporated.
  5. Place dough on waxed paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until solid.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie pans with parchment paper.
  7. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time and leaving the rest refrigerated, roll out the dough, using flour (or cocoa) and a rolling pin, to 1/8″ thick.
  8. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes and then check on them. You don’t want to overcook them!
  9. Remove the pan and allow the cookies to cool ON the pan.
  10. Decorate with frosting, sprinkles…

Your turn–making any Halloween sweet or meals this weekend?

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Halloween recipe round-up

From savory to sweet, silly to spooky, here are some fun recipes to try for Halloween from MKES and others I’ve found while hunting around for new ideas.

Sweet & Silly

Ghost cookies. These “cookies” are really just melted white chocolate that your kids can make into ghost shapes. This recipe is fast & fun and a Halloween tradition around our house.

Homemade tootsie rolls. Check out Baking and Boys! recipe for from-scratch tootsie rolls. I’m going to have to try these soon.

Orange Jack ‘o Lanterns. Forget carving the pumpkin, have an orange as a stand-in. Thanks to MarthaandMe for passing along the recipe.

Sweet & Spooky

Photo credit: Recipe.com

Ghost brownies. Help your kids create a ghostly graveyard using a brownie, white chocolate ghosts and chocolate-dipped cracker tombstones.

Creepy creature cake. I love any excuse to make a bundt cake–but here you create a freaky scene using the cake as the base. Love it.

Pumpkin seed toffee. Okay, so this isn’t spooky. But for a more grown-up candy, try this mix of roasted pumpkin seeds, ginger, cayenne, all wrapped up in toffee that’s topped with chocolate.

Savory & scary

Meatball mice. These little critters almost look like mice have invaded your spaghetti plate. These are easy to make–and the ham tails add a nice touch.

Chicken leg pot pie. You can thank Roald Dahl of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame for this revolting recipe and more!

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Revolting Recipes from Roald Dahl

Lickable wallpaper, wormy spaghetti, fresh mudburgers, stink bugs’ eggs, there are so many clever, ‘eww’-inducing finds in Roald Dahl’s cookbook, Revolting Recipes. While I didn’t have much luck with the recipes themselves, looking through the cookbook gave me plenty of ideas about what kinds of things you can pull together in the kitchen to create your own revolting recipes. Note: this is the first cookbook my youngest asked to borrow and stayed up late in bed just looking through it–there are illustrations for each recipe.

But here are a few ideas I had after flipping through Revolting Recipes:

Poppy seeds and sesame seeds make for great bug stand-ins. Dahl uses them as ‘mosquito toes’ in his recipe for Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes Most Delicately Fried from James and the Giant Peach and to create Snozzcumbers from  The BFG.

Quick ideas

  • Brush egg white on rolls before baking and put poppy seeds in clumps and tell your kids you’re having ‘bug toe buns’ with dinner.
  • Sprinkle poppy seeds on buttered noodles and explain to your wide-eyed kids that something might have sneaked into the pasta.
  • Make a trail using a clean paintbrush and either mayo or ranch dressing to create a line on a plate then sprinkle little “bugs” (poppy seeds) leading to cucumbers on your kids’ veggie dish. Make sure to shake the excess poppy seeds off the plate so it really looks like the bugs are making their way to the food.

Bird legs can be tasty. In Dahl’s version of Bird Pie from The Twits, he baked a chicken potpie and then fashioned pipe cleaners to look like legs. I wanted a more edible version so I used chard, with its nearly neon pink and yellow stalks. Slice with a knife or cut ‘toes’ into one of the stalk’s ends. You can read more about how I created my own Bird Pie. But bird legs can turn up in other places too.

Quick ideas

  • Use chard ‘bird legs’ in a salad (adhere them to a dollop of chicken salad, if you want).
  • Make bird leg tostadas or tacos and let the chard ‘bird legs’ stick out.

Lickable wallpaper is easy. Another idea from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl suggests fruit strips made from apples, brown sugar and gelatin.

Quick idea

Make a easier, healthier version of lickable wallpaper by making a thick version of fruit leathers. Then stick dried fruit to the fruit leather to create a design in your ‘wallpaper.’

Fruit leather tongue!

You can find more Halloween treat ideas inspired by Roald Dahl at my post at WanderingEducators.com.

Your turn–what’s your favorite food idea inspired from a children’s book?

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Ghost brownies

Let the Halloween cooking…begin! I’ve just been waiting to start posting fun spooky recipes. I’ll have more all week (taffy tongues are up next). But I wanted to start with this recipe that’s easy to pull together fast. AND kids can help you with every step.

Here’s how to create this 3-D Halloween scene:

What you’ll need

1 pan family-sized brownies (boxed varieties are fine)

1 cup white melting chocolate

Handful of mini-chocolate chips or raisins (yup, ghost eyes)

1/8 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 toothpicks

Oval crackers (Flipz work well)

Putting the brownies together

  1. Line a 9×13” baking pan with waxed or parchment paper and then lightly coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Bake the brownie mix according to package directions.
  3. Allow the brownies to cool and then cut them into six to eight rectangular pieces.
  4. Refrigerate the sliced brownies for at least 1 hour (or put them in the freezer for 20 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes on high power. Stir, and then keep heating in 30-second intervals until it becomes smooth.
  6. Let the chocolate cool slightly and create ghost shapes using the back of a spoon on waxed paper (so FUN). Add eyes before the chocolate sets.
  7. Allow the chocolate ghosts to cool completely and then carefully remove.
  8. Dip one end of the crackers into the white chocolate, then cool. Using the tip of a toothpick and melted semi-sweet chocolate write ‘RIP’ on the mini-tombstones.
  9. Working with one brownie at a time, flip it over and then use a fork to create crumbs on top (the soil of your ghostly graveyard).
  10. Carefully press the ghosts into the brownie along with the cracker to create your spooky scene.

Happy Halloween baking everyone!

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Tostadas for dinner

Do you see the little Halloween ghost, cat and bat I used on top?

This Friday is Mexican Independence Day. Don’t confuse Independence Day with Cinco de Mayo (literally the 5th of May, which is more of an American holiday). To celebrate, I wanted to pass along some of my favorite Mexican dishes this week. That brings me to tostadas. It seems like tostadas are often thought of as an appetizer. But trust me, it doesn’t take much to turn ‘em into a meal.

First things first. There’s going to be some frying involved. Please don’t buy those stacks of pre-made tostadas you sometimes see at the store. They’re tasteless. Instead, use corn tortillas you may already have at home or buy a pack at the store. This is one of the times that fresh tortillas are actually harder to use (more moisture means splattering when you fry). I fry the tortillas in a wok that has about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of canola oil in the bottom. Bring it to a medium-high heat, checking the temp by dropping a sprinkle of flour into the oil–if the flour immediately begins to sizzle, you’re ready to go. Fry ‘em in batches of two or three about 2 minutes on each side. Remove them when they just begin to have golden spots (you don’t want them too crisp). Keep in mind the tortillas may form an air bubble as they fry, just push ‘em down gently into the oil and the bubble should go away. Drain the tortillas on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. As far as servings go, I make two tostadas for kids, three for adults. And one last note, these are meant to be eaten with your hands, trying to cut these with a fork and knife…well…I wouldn’t recommend it.

Now for the fixins’. I raid the fridge. Granted, I usually have quite a bit of Mexican ingredients on hand. But here’s the idea–it’s like

Someone is ready to eat!

building a taco salad using the fried corn tortilla as the base. You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken to keep it easy, or I usually have some kind of meat leftover that I toss in a pan that’s been heated to medium-high with a little bit of oil and then I crisp the meat and add ground cumin, garlic powder and chili powder or cayenne for a bit of a kick. (We also make these meatless and use sauteed zucchini instead of pork or chicken). Then I make sure I have refried beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese (authentic tostadas would usually have a fresh white cheese like queso fresco on them) and a dollop of sour cream. I also had some leftover diced green chiles and corn so I put those on too.

Now as long as I had the oil out and heated, I had to add some fun to my tostadas. I recently bought a Halloween linzer cookie cutter (hey, I had a 40% coupon at Jo-Ann Fabrics, which surprisingly has cooking stuff too). I used the small cutters to make shapes in the corn tortillas and then I fried those. Caution: they fry fast. I had at least one burnt bat.

For and easy to scan recipe, here you go–

Dinnertime tostadas

Ghostly tostadas

Prep time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

8-12 corn tortillas

2 cups chopped, heated chicken, pork, beef or zucchini

1 can refried beans, heated

3 cups shredded lettuce

1 cup chopped tomato

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup corn (optional)

1/2 cup green chiles (optional)

1 lime (optional)

Sour cream

Canola oil

Salsa

Directions

  1. Bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan or a wok.
  2. Fry the corn tortillas 2-3 at a time until just crisped, drain excess oil on a paper towel.
  3. For each fried corn tortilla, slather refried beans on the top (this is important because the beans act as the glue between the corn tortilla and the rest of your ingredients).
  4. After the beans, layer the rest of the ingredients on top in this order–meat, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green chiles, whole beans, squeeze a little lime on top, then add the cheese and sour cream. (If you fried up some ghosts, you can use those too. Any small cookie cutter will do for cool shapes)
  5. Serve warm with salsa.
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Halloween Meatball Mice

Warning: These little critters look like, well, real little critters.

I had a vague idea of creating meatballs that looked like mice as a Halloween gag for my kids. I mentioned the idea to my husband, stuck him with the ingredients and then headed out to pick up my oldest daughter at a trick-or-treat party. When I returned, my younger two children were just giggling and my husband had a mischievous smirk on his face.

“They look so gross,” he said.

Now, you should know that when left alone my husband can come up with some pretty inventive creations. A few years ago he disappeared into the garage after asking where I’d stashed some black fabric we had leftover from one of my daughter’s witch costumes. Jump to a couple hours later and he’d crafted a giant black widow spider using old wiring, a deflated basketball, the fabric and some red paint. Seriously, the spider was about 6 feet across! He positioned the spider just above our front door and of course added webs all around. The 5 year-old living two doors down refused to walk on our side of the street in the week leading up to Halloween and she didn’t even stop by our house for candy.

Back to the mice roasting in my oven—here’s what my husband did, enlisting my daughters as helpers. He molded the meatball mixture into mice bodies (think teardrop-shaped) then he cut tails using slivers of deli ham. Olive pieces make up the eyes and once the meatballs were done baking he coated each one with spaghetti sauce.

Ready for a yucky dinner? Hey, only in appearance, they tasted delicious.

Directions for Mice Meatballs

Prep time: 25 minutes + 25 minutes baking

Servings: Around 5-6

Ingredients:

Meatball or meatloaf fixings

Spaghetti sauce

Spaghetti

Deli ham slices

Black olives

Using your favorite meatball or meatloaf recipe, mix together the meat and spice combination. [In this recipe cut out the vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and add a teaspoon of dried oregano or basil to the meat mixture.]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray.

Working with about 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons of meat, form the mixture into a teardrop shape.

Line up the meatballs in rows on the baking sheet.

Thinly slice the deli ham into “tails.” Press a “tail” into the back end of each meatball.

Add fingernail-sized piece of cut black olives next to the “nose” part of the meatball. Press into place. Repeat with all of the meatballs.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

Make the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions.

Brush warmed spaghetti sauce over each “mouse.”

Serve 2 or 3 mice meatballs over the spaghetti noodles and top with additional sauce.

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