Not-so-tricky treats for Halloween

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, so if you’d rather have the kids stay home and party instead of trick-or-treating, we found some creepy/fun things to fix.

We know Halloween is basically about sugar these days, so we admit defeat on that front. The kids want sweets, and admit it, you do, too.

So here are a few ideas, along with factoids about the holiday.

• Halloween was originally a pagan holiday called Samhain, celebrated by the ancient Celts. It was a festival for the dead, so people would dress in costume and leave treats outside to appease roaming spirits.

• Christian missionaries later found out about the celebration and adapted it to All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day, which is followed by All Soul’s Day.

• The Irish made lanterns (jack o’lanterns) out of turnips, beets or potatoes, not pumpkins.

• And trick-or-treating likely came from the European practice of “mumming” or “guysing,” in which costumed participants go door-to-door performing dances, songs and plays in exchange for treats.

• Black and orange are associated with Halloween because orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and a harvest color. Black is a symbol of death and darkness, which harkens back to the origins of the day.

• Bobbing for apples originated during the ancient Roman festival of Pomona, which was a fall harvest festival.

• During Samhain, big fires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, dark winter. Often cattle bones were thrown on the fire, hence, bone fires or bonfires.

Toxic Waste Mac and Cheese

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups whole milk (or half & half)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder

1/16 tsp. cayenne pepper (add more if desired)

8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese (grated)

1 package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)

Green food coloring

1 pound dry pasta (cooked and drained, such as shells)

1 head fresh cauliflower (cut and steamed)

Melt butter in a large pan/Dutch oven over medium-low heat.

Add the flour and whisk to combine. Simmer, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the milk and whisk to combine and remove all lumps.

Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and mustard, stir to combine.

Continue cooking until mixture starts to simmer, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until melted and completely combined.

Add the drained spinach, stir to combine. Add a few drops of green food coloring, if desired.

Add the drained pasta and stir until completely coated.

Stir in the steamed cauliflower, and serve immediately. You can cut the cauliflower in large chunks and wait until the very end to add them so they stay whole and look creepier sitting near the top.

Zombie Boogers

10 cups popped popcorn, plain

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

3/4 tsp. baking soda

20 drops yellow food coloring

10 drop green food coloring

1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Place popcorn in a large bowl.

Bring sugar, butter and corn syrup to boil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Cook and stir 4 minutes.

Stir in food colors and baking soda. Mixture will foam up. Remove from heat. Pour over popcorn in bowl. Toss to coat evenly. Spread popcorn evenly on foil-lined 15-by-10-by-1 inch baking pan.

Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.

Halloween Candy Corn Bark

16 ounces white chocolate baking bars (such as Baker’s)

1 cup pretzel twists

1/2 cup candy corn

1/4 cup salted peanuts

Orange/yellow/white sprinkles, optional

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Set aside.

Chop white chocolate baking bars into small pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute; stir chocolate well. Microwave for another 15 seconds; stir until chocolate is smooth. (If necessary, microwave in additional 15-second increments, stirring between each one, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.)

Pour melted white chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it lightly to form an approximate 8- by 12-inch rectangle. Working quickly, arrange the pretzel twists all over the white chocolate, then fill in the spaces between the pretzels with the candy corn and peanuts. If desired, sprinkle the entire surface with sprinkles, pressing them lightly into the chocolate, if necessary.

Pour the semisweet chocolate chips into a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir well. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-second increments, stirring between each, until chocolate is smooth and melted. Allow the melted chocolate to cool for a minute, then transfer to a disposable plastic baggie. Push chocolate down into one corner and snip off a tiny piece of that corner with scissors. Twist the top of the baggie and use it as a piping bag to drizzle the surface of the bark with thin parallel lines of chocolate.

Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 45 minutes. Slide wax/parchment paper onto a cutting board and cut bark into pieces. Serve immediately or store in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator.

Creepy Pizza Hands can be made with completely store bought ingredients, but a little preparation is required. If you have children, have them trace their hands on a piece of cardboard or any sturdy paper (a cereal box). You can also use an adult hand, of course. Cut the shape from the cardboard or paper and place it on the rolled out pizza dough.

Creepy Pizza Hands

1 (13.8 oz can) refrigerated classic pizza crust or homemade dough

Tomato or pizza sauce

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Pepperoni (optional)

Black olives (optional)

Preheat over to 450 degrees, with oven rack 6 inches from broiler. Grease a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Roll pizza to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place cut hand shapes on top of the dough and cut out hands using a sharp paring knife.

Gently transfer the dough hands to the baking sheet, leaving 1-2 inches of space between.

Spread tomato sauce on top of the hand using a small spoon. Sprinkle cheese on top, being careful to leave the fingers distinct.

Bake pizza for 9-10 minutes, until it becomes golden (about 8 minutes.) Switch oven to broil and cook until top begins to brown — just a few seconds.

Remove from oven and serve warm.

You can get 1-3 hands out of the dough, so if you want more, use additional cans of pizza crust.

Optional: Cut pepperoni into fingernail-shaped pieces and place at the finger tips of the dough.

Can also use black olives, cut in half.

Slime Punch

1 medium pumpkin (optional)

1/2 gallon lime sherbet

1 (2 liter) bottle lemon-lime soda

Cut the top off the pumpkin and thoroughly scrape out seeds and pulp.

Scoop the lime sherbet into the pumpkin shell, and pour the lemon-lime soda over top.

Alternatively, serve in a plastic cauldron.

Butterbeer II

2 Tbsp. butterscotch topping

1 cup soda water

1 cup cream soda

2 Tbsp. whipped cream

2 Tbsp. caramel sauce

1 pinch salt

Chill a glass or glass mug in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Combine the butterscotch topping and soda water in the chilled mug; stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the dream soda into the mug.

Stir the whipped cream, caramel sauce and salt together in a small bowl; spoon atop the soda mixture. Stir lightly — it will froth. Makes one serving.