Halloween parties aren’t just for kids, and not all Halloween-themed recipes have to be sweet.
Photography by Janet Warlick :: Food styled by Muriel H. Wilkins :: Staged by Ashlee Nobel and Sara Edwards Neal
[dropcap]Given[/dropcap] the amount of candy likely to come into your house that night, you’d probably like some fun and easy, not to mention affordable and savory, recipes to somewhat offset the hyper-sweetened party table. So, I racked my brain and searched the Internet for tasty treats that fit the theme and balance out the candy corn. To top off the party, I’ve also included a very adult brew. Have a Spooky and Scrumptious Day!
We tested these using two flavors of cheese mixtures – pesto and roasted red pepper. The testers preferred the red pepper version. If you wish, use your favorite cheese ball recipe. We found using poppy seeds made the best presentation, but the taste was lost in the cheese. The sunflower seeds tasted the best. Don’t worry if you can’t find black sesame seeds, white ones will suffice. Experiment with different combinations to determine your preference for both the cheese and the seeds.
- 1 4-ounce package Neuchâtel cheese, softened
- 8 ounces soft, mild goat cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup pesto or 2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds or black or white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 16 pitted black olives, sliced, for eyes
- 32 pink peppercorns or miniature bits of roasted red pepper, for eyes
- 32 triangular blue corn chips or free-form wing shapes made from tortillas
Mash together cream cheese, goat cheese and pesto or red peppers. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes. Shape mixture into 16 2-inch balls, using about 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture. Roll in seeds of your choice — sunflower, sesame or poppy — to cover. Press two olive slices into each ball for eyes; place peppercorns or red pepper in centers for pupils. Refrigerate until serving time, then insert a chip on either side for wings. Serve.
Makes 16 servings.
Pumpkin Turkey Chili
The seasoning level suggested here is mild; feel free to add more to your taste. Alter the recipe as you like to make a vegetarian version, or substitute another meat of your choice. If you choose a high-fat meat like beef, drain out the excess fat with a large spoon before mixing in the beans, tomatoes and corn.
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper, about ½ a pepper
- ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper, about ½ a pepper
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper, about ½ a pepper
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup frozen corn
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin, more to taste
- 3 to 4 stalks cilantro, snipped, as garnish
- ½ cup light sour cream or plain yogurt, as garnish
- additional chopped bell pepper, as garnish
Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and bell peppers. Sauté until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and turkey. Cook until no pink remains in the meat. Mix in black beans, tomatoes and corn. Stir together, then mix in the pumpkin. Season with chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings. To serve, garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, cilantro and additional bell pepper.
Serves 6 to 8.
These novel snacks appeal to kids and adults alike!
- 12 square slices mozzarella cheese
- 48 thin pretzel sticks
- 24 fresh chives, trimmed and snipped into 6-inch pieces
Using small scissors, cut each cheese slice into quarters. Cut the fringes of the broom about halfway through the cheese quarters. Roll each slice of cheese around the bottom quarter of a pretzel stick. Gently tie a chive around the cheese to hold it onto the pretzel. Trim the ends of the chive, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Note: Tying the chive around the cheese requires patience. Practice before cutting all the chives; you may prefer them shorter or longer. Also, the pretzels will absorb moisture from the cheese, so wrap these as close to serving time as possible. To help save time, you can cut the cheese and chives in advance; simply keep them covered and cool.
Adjust the ratio of cider-to-ginger liqueur-to-club soda to your taste. For a nonalcoholic version, use apple cider and ginger ale; omit the liqueur and club soda. Make the cinnamon simple syrup in advance so that it has time to chill.
- 24 blueberries
- 24 lychees, drained
- 72 ounces hard apple cider, thoroughly chilled
- 8 ounces ginger liqueur, more to taste, thoroughly chilled
- 32 ounces club soda, thoroughly chilled
- 4 ounces cinnamon simple syrup, thoroughly chilled (recipe follows)
- one apple, cored and sliced, as garnish
To make the eyeballs, stuff 24 lychees with 24 blueberries. Place “eyeballs” in two ice trays and freeze overnight. At serving time, run a little warm water over the bottom of the ice tray to loosen the lychees. Gently spoon into the punch.
To make the cinnamon simple syrup, combine ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Whisk gently until sugar dissolves. Bring syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until syrup thickens and is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
To assemble, combine the cider, ginger liqueur and simple syrup in a punch bowl. Chill well. Just before serving, add the club soda, apple slices and frozen eyeballs.
Makes 20- to 25-punch cup servings.
Variation: Add ½ cup high-quality bourbon.
Submitted by Matt Zorn, Little Rock, Arkansas
You may find a pumpkin-carving tool helpful with this. If you don’t have time to carve eight to 10 oranges, make the salad as described, and carve a medium-sized pumpkin, and use it as a serving bowl. This also works if you are serving a larger crowd.
- 8 large, thick-skinned oranges
- 1 5-ounce bag baby mixed greens
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, as garnish
Citrus Dressing Ingredients
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons orange juice, reserved from the pulp removed from the orange shells
- 6 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Cut a ½-inch slice off the top of oranges. Carve out pulp with a spoon, saving as much juice and keeping as many orange segments intact as possible. If necessary, slice enough off the bottom of oranges so they won’t roll, but don’t cut through to the pulp. Reserve the juice and pulp in a bowl. Strain the juice from the pulp. Set aside separately.
Using a sharp paring knife or a pumpkin-carving tool, cut a jack-o’-lantern face on each orange.
Whisk orange juice with vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, ginger, pepper and salt. Then whisk oil in until combined. Taste, and adjust flavor profile, adding more orange juice if necessary. Toss greens with 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. Stuff orange shells with salad; sprinkle with pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Makes 8 servings.
Cook’s Note: If the orange segments are intact, they can be tossed into the salad.