Halloween Tricks and Treats

                This is the time of year when historians, academics and kids of all ages debate the question of where and when the custom of trick-or-treating on Halloween actually began. Back in the day (somewhere after the invention of fire and before the advent of the Bacon Double Cheeseburger), the Celts offered treats to evil spirits to avoid tricks. The Druids, of Stonehenge fame, begged their gods for favors with sweets in return for the protection of their soul, and the Irish made “soul cakes” to well, protect their souls. Those wacky, crazy Brits are credited with starting the tradition of wearing costumes and masks as they went from door to door demanding treats to protect the household from the “tricks” of the revelers. None the less, the current tradition of decorating your yard like it’s Christmas on steroids, and the of over the top, dress up and run screaming through the neighborhood trick-or-treating on Halloween is pretty much an All American custom.

One of the biggest issues faced by parents (other than the 3 day sugar high and candy hidden all over the house to “protect” it from scavenging parents and older siblings) is the dilemma of what to feed your Hannah Montanas, Tinkerbells, Spiderman, Captain Jacks, Harry Potters or classic ghosts and princesses you created before they go out the door to trick or treat. You want your kids moderately full so they don’t eat their entire bag of goodies before they get home. Yes, they’ll try (what child hasn’t) but my suggestion to avoid the carbo/sugar overload is to feed them something fun and filling (and easy to make and simple enough to eat REALLY fast) before they head out the door.

I claim absolutely no credit for the following recipes. They have all been sent to me or collected over the years and have been kid and adult tested. All are simple, all are tasty and best of all, adults will love them just as much as the kids.


Spaghetti Stuffed Potatoes

2 medium-sized potatoes

1 (8-ounce) package thin spaghetti

1 (14-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat the oven to 400. Wash the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Place the potatoes cut side up on a baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.

While the potatoes bake, prepare the spaghetti in a medium-sized pot according to the directions on the package. Drain the cooked spaghetti in a colander. A minutes before the potatoes are ready, begin to heat the spaghetti sauce (blood) in a small pot. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Scoop out the insides of the potatoes. (You won’t need the insides for this recipe.) The empty shells will serve as skulls. When the sauce begins to boil, remove it from the heat and combine it with the cooked spaghetti to make brains. Put a scoop of bloody brains in each skull, take off your thinking cap, and enjoy! Serving suggestion: Arrange your Brains on a platter of alfalfa-sprout hair!  Serves 4 brainiacs

Submitted by Julie Monktensky Anderson IN


 Fresh Tomato Bisque Recipe

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups water

4 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

6 whole cloves

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup medium or whipping cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and toss to coat. Stir over medium heat until the onion is tender. Sprinkle on the flour and continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture foams. Stir in the water and bring to a boil. Measure out 3/4 cup of the tomato pieces and set aside. Add the remaining tomato pieces to the boiling mixture. Stir in the brown sugar and cloves. Reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, at the gentle bubble for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a food mill and force through. Return to the saucepan and stir in the reserved tomato pieces. Blend in the salt, pepper, and cream. Place over medium heat and warm gently, but do not boil.  6 servings

Recipe from: Judy Gorman’s Vegetable Cookbook by Judy Gorman


Chicken Wings and Dip

20 chicken wings (3-1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon five spice powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

Swamp Dip (recipe follows)

Place wings in a plastic bag set in a shallow dish. In a small bowl stir together soy sauce, ginger, crushed red pepper, five spice powder and garlic. Pour over wings. Close bag and toss to coat. Chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally. Remove wings from bag, reserving marinade. Place wings on a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Brush with reserved marinade (discard remaining marinade). Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Serve with Swamp Dip. Makes 20. Serves 5

Swamp Dip: In a small bowl stir together a 8-ounce container of dairy sour cream and 3 tablespoons coarse ground mustard. Garnish with fresh whole chives. Serve with bat wings.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens


Even excited trick-or-treaters will take time to enjoy a smiling jack-o’-lantern pizza.

1 (16.3-ounce) can Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)

1 pound lean (at least 80%) ground beef

1 (15.5-ounce) can sloppy Joe sandwich sauce

1 (11-ounce) can Green Giant® Niblets® whole kernel sweet corn, drained

8 (3/4-ounce) slices American cheese

8 small pieces (1×1/2 inch each) green bell pepper

Heat oven to 375. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Place on ungreased large cookie sheet and press each biscuit to 4 1/2-inch round. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in sloppy Joe sauce and corn. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot.

With sharp knife, cut out small triangles from each cheese slice for eyes and nose, and half moon shape for mouth. Spoon beef mixture evenly onto biscuit rounds. Arrange cheese pieces over beef mixture to look like jack-o’-lanterns. Place bell pepper piece on top of each to look like stem. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Makes 8 pizzas.

Tip: Any variety of refrigerated Grands!® biscuits will work in this recipe–choose your favorite. Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury.


1 1/2 cups Original Bisquick® mix

1/3 cup very hot water

1/2 cup pizza sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

5 (3/4 ounce) slices process American cheese

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 450. Grease 12-inch pizza pan.

Mix Bisquick and very hot water until soft dough forms. Press dough in pizza pan, using fingers dipped in Bisquick; pinch edge to form 1/2-inch rim.  Bake 10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce over crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Cut American cheese with cookie cutters in Halloween shapes. Place cheese shapes on pizza just before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker Kitchens.


1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

3 cups (12-ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use

2 tablespoons water

1 large egg

Red and yellow liquid food coloring

Preheat oven to 425. In a large skillet combine the beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce; cool. Unfold 1 piecrust, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spread mustard evenly over crust. Stir together meat mixture and 2 cups cheese; spoon onto center of crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Unfold remaining piecrust, and cut out a jack-o’-lantern face, reserving pastry cutouts to use as a stem. Place crust over meat mixture; crimp edges of crust, and fold under. Place stem on top of jack-o’-lantern face. Whisk together 2 tablespoons water, egg, and 1 drop each of red and yellow food coloring; brush over crust. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from oven, and brush again with egg mixture. Fill eyes, nose, and mouth with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Modified from a recipe from http://www.recipegoldmine.com


Breadstick sandwiches

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup thick and chunky salsa

6 (7 1/2-inch) breadsticks, sliced in half lengthwise

8 (1-ounce) slices American cheese, each cut into 3 strips

Chopped black olives

Cream cheese, softened

Sliced red bell pepper or pimiento

Sliced stuffed green olives

Shredded lettuce

Combine sour cream and salsa in small bowl. Spread cut-sides of each breadstick with 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture. Place 4 strips cheese onto bottom half of each breadstick; cover with top half. To decorate each snake sandwich, attach 2 pieces chopped black olive to one end of top of sandwich with dot of cream cheese for eyes. Cut a piece of red pepper into tongue shape; place it between breadstick halves for a tongue. Attach slices of green olives to the top of sandwich with dot of cream cheese for snake skin design. Place shredded lettuce onto platter. Set snake sandwiches onto lettuce. Makes 6 sandwiches.

From about.com


Meatball Tacos

1 pound ground beef

1 (1.1/4-ounce) package Taco Bell Home Original Taco Seasoning Mix

12 Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Shells

3/4 cup Taco Bell Home Originals Thick ‘N Chunky Salsa

3/4 cup sour cream

1 (2.1/4-ounce) can sliced pitted ripe olives

In a bowl combine the meat and seasoning mix. Shape into 36 (1-inch) balls; place in 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Fill each taco shell with 1 meatball; drizzle with salsa.

Top with 2 meatballs dipped in sour cream. Garnish each meatball with an olive slice to make it look like an “eyeball.” Makes 6 servings.

Submitted by Jackie Parsons Glenview IL


Cheese sandwiches

1 (11-ounce) can Pillsbury® Refrigerated Breadsticks

6 small slices pepperoni

12 (2/3-ounces) slices American pasteurized process cheese food

3/4 cup finely shredded lettuce

Heat oven to 375. Separate dough into 12 strips. Place flat on ungreased cookie sheet; do not twist. With sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut 2 small triangles from one end of each dough strip to form a point that resembles a fingertip.* Lightly score breadsticks in center to resemble knuckles.

Cut each pepperoni slice into 2 pointed ovals to resemble 2 fingernails. Place 1 pepperoni piece on each breadstick. Bake at 375. for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. If necessary, reapply “fingernails” with small dot of ketchup.

Split each breadstick. Cut each cheese slice into strips and place in breadstick, overlapping strips. Top each with lettuce. If desired, serve with mustard, mayonnaise or ketchup. Serve warm or cold. Makes 12 finger sandwiches or 6 servings.

From Pillsbury.com


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