Halloween goodies, from sweet to savory

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017

By Deirdre Parker Smith


Just one week from today is the spookiest of all nights, Halloween.

Lots of folks are having parties at home, gatherings at churches and community centers and generally keeping the fun off the streets these days.

No Halloween party has be be scary. Some prepared stuff from the store, a few simple recipes and you’ve got the ghoulish goodies managed. Now if you could just find the rest of your costume.

Some of these recipes are easy to make ahead, and some could be good and messy, perfect for the kids.
One of the easiest concoctions of confections is the Halloween Gorp, which is just piling a bunch of goodies into a bowl for creepy hands to pick through later.

The monster cookies are a version of a cookie I learned to make in junior high, back when there was such a thing, and this version is perfect fun for the kids. An old T-shirt is not a bad idea if you’ll be using lots of different colors, and eye-ball attachment can be a scream.

Pick any scary container for your treats — there’s so much Halloween swag out there, you’d think it was Christmas.

In fact, Halloween is catching up to Christmas as one of the most popular days to decorate and plan a party. And, once the Halloween stuff is off the shelves, you know what’s next … Santa hats, tiny trees, snowmen, snowflakes, fuzzy mittens and red and green everything!

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Popcorn Balls
3 quarts popped popcorn
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
3 cups miniature marshmallows
3 Tbsp. (1/2 of a 3-ounce box) orange gelatin dessert mix
Candy corn, jellybeans and sour green apple candy sticks, licorice string, dried fruit, etc.

Spray a large mixing bowl lightly with cooking spray and place popcorn inside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in marshmallows and gelatin dessert powder until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.

Spray hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form into balls.  Place balls on wax paper.  Press candy decorations into balls to form eyes, a stem and a Jack-O-Lantern grin.  Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage.  Add a ribbon tie to plastic wrap as a decorative closure.
Clean-up tip: Soak saucepan before cleaning.

Gooey Monster Cookies
1 boxed white cake mix
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 8 oz. bar cream cheese, softened
1 egg
Powdered sugar
Food coloring (I used neon food coloring to make them more vibrant)
Candy eyeballs

Beat butter, vanilla, egg and cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in cake mix. Divide batter into bowls for the amount of colors you want. Add food coloring to each individual bowl and mix until all combined.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Roll into balls and dip in a bowl of powdered sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet and pat down a bit.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

Add candy eyeballs while cookies are still warm.

— From Lil’Luna, lilluna.com

Halloween Cheese Ball Bats
For the goat cheese ball:
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
black sesame seeds
blue corn tortilla chips
black olives

Place the goat cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse 6-8 times until combined.

Scoop out the cheese and form into golf ball-sized balls (about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces). Roll the balls in black sesame seeds until they are completely covered.

Sliced some black olives for the eyes and place on the cheese balls, insert pieces of pimentos in the center of the eyes. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight to firm up.

Before serving, insert 2 tortilla chips on each side for bat wings.
— Girlinthelittleredkitchen.com

Deviled Eyeballs
8 hard-boiled eggs
2 fully ripened avocadoes, pitted, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 Tbsp. grated horseradish, drained (optional)

Peel the hard-boiled eggs; cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to medium bowl; arrange whites on serving platter. To bowl with yolks, add avocados and lemon juice; mash until smooth, mixing well.

Season with salt and peppers. For extra flavor, stir in the tablespoon of grated horseradish, if desired. Fill each egg white half with heaping tablespoon of mixture, piling high; sprinkle with herbs, if desired.

To make devilish eyes: Thinly slice roasted red peppers to create veins on eyeballs or drizzle tops with bottled red hot sauce. Top with sliced black olives.

— lacocinadeleslie.com, adapted from Avocados from Mexico.

Halloween Gorp
1 bag (16 oz.) candy corn
1 bag (16 oz.) pretzel nuggets
1 package (15 oz.) dried banana chips or dried apple slices
1 package (15 oz.) candy-coated chocolate candies (2 cups)
1 box (12 oz.) caramel popcorn and peanuts
2 packages (5 oz. each) milk chocolate-covered pretzels
1 cup gummy worm candies
1 cup sesame sticks
1 cup raisins

In 7-quart or other large container with cover, mix all ingredients; cover tightly. Store at room temperature.
— Betty Crocker.

Slow-Cooker Spiked Mulled Cider

Makes about 16 (8-ounce) drinks

1 gallon fresh apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
1 medium orange
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger
5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
5 star anise pods
1 1/2 cups bourbon, brandy or dark rum
Orange slices, for serving (optional)

Pour the cider or juice into a 5-quart or larger slow cooker.

Cut the orange into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Cut the ginger into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add both to the slow cooker.

Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise. To make it easier to serve, place the cloves and star anise pods in a tea ball first, or place in a double layer of cheesecloth or coffee filter, gather it up into a sachet, and tie closed with kitchen twine.

Cover the slow cooker and cook until the flavors meld, 4 hours on low. Add the bourbon, brandy or rum and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. Keep warm and serve in mugs garnished with orange slices.

To keep it alcohol free, simply omit the bourbon, brandy or rum, or separate your punch into two, smaller cookers, with just 3/4 cup of your chosen alcohol in one.

Apple cider: Buy fresh apple cider or unfiltered apple juice for the best flavor. Do not use sparkling cider, spiced cider, hard cider, or clear apple juice.

Storage: Leftover cider can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.