Trick or Treat? Give Me Something Good To Eat!
By Kathy Patrick
hen I was in grade school, the excitement and anticipation of Halloween started early in October as I dreamed of all the delicious candy treats that would be toted home in a big sack. When All Hallows’ Eve arrived I was excited to see other kids’ costumes, to check out the pumpkin-carving artwork on neighbors’ porches, and to never feel quite safe from the bats, goblins, and ghosts who lurked in the dark, just beyond the safety of the sidewalk. Of course, the best part was ringing doorbells and shouting out the ditty above in anticipation of striking it candy rich!
Now that I’m older, Halloween has lost its sugary appeal. These days it’s truly better for me to give than to receive. Now my Halloween “treats” don’t have to be all about the candy; instead, I enjoy these delicious and fun delights at the dinner table!
BLACK CAT PEPPER JELLY APPETIZER
Note: you’ll need a Halloween cat-shaped cookie cutter, or try other Halloween shaped cookie cutters such as a witch, a spider, or a bat.
1 8-oz. block cream cheese
1 8-oz. jar pepper jelly (use one that is red and orange in color)
3 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
Parsley to garnish
Using a Halloween cat-shaped cookie cutter, cut the cream cheese block into one or more cat shapes (depending on the size of the cookie cutter).
Press the black sesame seeds into the cream cheese so the cat is completely black.
On a serving plate, pour the pepper jelly into a pool and top with the cream cheese cat.
Garnish with parsley at the bottom of the plate to simulate a lawn.
If you have any cream cheese left over, shape it into a small circle to simulate the moon at the top of the plate!
Serve with crackers, toast points, and/or celery sticks.
JACK O’ LANTERN STUFFED PEPPERS (VEGETARIAN)
1 Tbsp. salt
4 large orange bell peppers
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups cooked rice
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-oz. can chili-style diced tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. Mexican blend cheese
½ cup vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut off (and reserve) the top of each pepper. Remove and discard the cores and seeds. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a Jack O’ Lantern face into each pepper. Drizzle the inside of each pepper with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the peppers upright in a large baking dish along with the pepper tops.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onion in the hot oil until softened and transparent, 5-10 minutes.
Mix rice, black beans, tomatoes, and cooked onion in a large bowl. Add chili powder, garlic salt, cumin, ½ tsp. salt; stir until evenly mixed. Fold 1 ½ cups Mexican cheese blend into rice mixture. Spoon rice mixture into each bell pepper; sprinkle peppers with remaining Mexican cheese blend.
Pour vegetable stock into the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil.
Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 – 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling.
BLACK BEAN SOUP IN PUMPKIN BOWLS
Serves 4, with soup leftover
Note: The black soup in pumpkin bowls is Halloween festive, but you may add “spookiness” by making a ghost or a cobweb on the top of each bowl using sour cream.
For the Bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins, acorn squash, or sweet dumpling squash
2 Tsp. sugar Kosher salt
For the Soup:
3 16-oz. cans black beans, low-sodium, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
¼ cup cilantro, minced, plus more to serve
2 small jalapeno peppers, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium tomato, diced
2 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. cumin
½ cup picante salsa
Make the bowls:
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin (make a zigzag cut, if desired). Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with ½ Tsp. each sugar and salt.
Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their size.
Make the soup:
Sauté onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cilantro, and jalapenos in butter over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add diced tomato and garlic and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Place drained beans in large saucepan with sautéed vegetables. Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered until beans are tender. Stir occasionally and add water if needed. Let cool.
Drain beans and vegetables, reserving liquid. Puree beans and vegetables in batches along with a small amount of liquid in the food processor (if desired you can reserve some beans and vegetables for texture). Mix in enough of the reserved liquid to create the desired consistency.
Place the pumpkin bowls on serving plates then pour the soup into the pumpkin bowls; add cumin, cilantro, and picante salsa to taste.
BLOODY EYEBALL DESSERT
Note: If you want the “eyeball” to look really bloody, get a small tube of red cake decorating gel and squirt squiggly red lines on the panna cotta “eye white” just before serving!
2 kiwi fruit
For Panna Cotta:
2 Tbsp. gelatin
4 cups coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. water
A pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup strawberries
4 chocolate covered coffee beans, brown M&Ms, or other round chocolate candy, the pupil of the eye
Peel and cut each kiwi in half. Place one slice each in the bottom of 4 bowls. This makes the iris of the eye.
To make the panna cotta (the white of the eye), add coconut milk, vanilla extract, salt, and sugar to a saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk continuously (but gently) for 5 minutes. In a bowl, mix the water and gelatin together, making sure the gelatin is completely dissolved. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the milk mixture and turn up the heat to medium-high. Whisk continually for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for approximately 2 minutes, but not longer than 3 minutes.
Pour panna cotta into bowls on top of the kiwi slices. Place in the refrigerator for approximately 4 hours or until set.
An hour before serving, slice and core the strawberries. Place strawberry slices and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir periodically for approximately 10 minutes. Remove strawberry sauce from heat and allow to cool until you can safely handle it.
Use a colander or sieve to drain sauce into a bowl, removing strawberry pulp and seeds.
Place a couple spoons of the sauce on a plate to mimic a pool of blood, then, gently turn-out the panna cotta on top of the sauce, upside-down with the kiwi facing up. (Here’s where you can optionally add the red gel squiggles on the white panna cotta.)
Place a chocolate-covered coffee bean, brown M&M, or other round brown candy in the center of each kiwi slice, like a pupil, and serve.
Kathy Patrick owns Meals on Heels, a personal chef service. Kathy makes entertaining in your home fun, easy and delicious! Enjoy hosting dinner parties, holiday occasions, and other special events with Kathy’s expertise. Kathy is happily married to party Cipollini. She enjoys herb gardening and exercising. Reach her at email@example.com.