Back to the Kitchen: Spooky Fun Recipes for Halloween

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BY GWEN KENNEALLY

A week before Halloween and my daughter still does not know what she is wearing or where she is going. Do 15-year-olds really still celebrate? I love the idea of families getting together and having a big buffet and someone takes the kids out and someone stays and mans the house. You can even end at another house for dessert and the “candy exchange!”

I love to gather with friends and we have been doing this basic menu for years. I thought I would get off the hook and not have to do cookie cutter quesadillas for the teens but they pitched a fit in the name of tradition!

What ever your Halloween looks like, enjoy these simple popular fall recipes.

Halloween quesadillas

Cookie Cutter Quesadillas

What quesadilla doesn’t taste better in the shape of a pumpkin or ghost? You can find great Halloween cookie cutters. The larger, simpler shapes work best. The kids love them and they work well for any holiday.

1-package flour tortillas

1 pound (or 1 bag) shredded cheese

Traditionally it would be jack, but mozzarella works great, and cheddar adds a great color.

Very lightly grease or spray 2 cookie sheets. Lay out the tortillas on a cutting board. Choose a cookie cutter and cut out two of each shape. Place bottom on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cheese you have to play a bit depending on the shape, but about 1/4 inch high and stop about a quarter inch around. Place second cutout on top. Bake at 350 for about seven minutes. (Again watch closely as the size of the cookie cutter does vary the time). Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Caesar Salad

In small bowl whisk together:

1 egg

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

Then add:

Juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Up to 3 cloves of garlic to taste

2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a steady stream add:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups canola oil

If you would like, add a few shakes of pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce. If you like a stronger flavor or are not keen on the anchovy paste, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce works wonders.

Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce. The traditional Caesar lettuce is Romaine. I like to add spinach and radicchio for flavor and color. Mix in croutons (see below) shaved or grated Parmesan and then toss in the dressing. Go lightly the worst Caesars are the ones that are over-dressed. Taste as you go. For variation you can add cherry tomatoes or toasted pine nuts, both are tasty and add a little pizzazz.

Croutons

Truly, you can use any kind of bread, seasoning and oil. I will give you the basic, but again – go for it and make it your own.

1 baguette (long loaf of French or sourdough bread)

Olive oil to coat

Pinch of Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Slice baguettes into quarter inch slices. Place in large bowl. Toss with oil until well coated. Add salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in single layer rows and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Vegetable Chili

This is a basic roadmap. You can add or delete any veggies. So warm and cozy, like a hearty chili should be.

½ cup olive oil

4 small red onions, roughly chopped

8 cloves of garlic

2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped

6 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced

3 bunches broccoli, roughly chopped

3 zucchini cut lengthwise then sliced

3 yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced

3 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced

2 cans (35 ounces) Italian style stewed tomatoes

3 pounds fresh ripe plum tomatoes cut in 1- inch cubes

4-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons Italian spices

(Or any combo of basil, oregano, sage, etc.)

2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1-teaspoon salt

2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained

2 cups tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in really large pot. Add onion, garlic, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add all tomatoes and beans. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all spices and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook covered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese chopped scallions and homemade corn bread.

Chili con Carne

3 red onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Pinch of salt

2 pounds Sirloin, cut into half inch pieces

2 15 oz cans kidney beans

3 large cans diced tomatoes

Sauté’ onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender over medium heat. Add seasoning. Then add the sirloin and brown the meat stirring constantly. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least one more hour.

Corn Bread

1-cup buttermilk

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1-cup flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

Spray a 9-inch square pan with bakers joy. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter. In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the buttermilk mixture until just mixed. The batter may be a bit lumpy. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown.

Jalapeno Cornbread

Great flavor with a nice kick!!!

4 eggs

1-cup buttermilk

2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned

2 sticks melted butter

4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

2 cups cornmeal, blue, yellow or white

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix in a large bowl. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until golden on top.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies. Check out her websites www.Backtothekitchen.netand http://magpieminipie.vpweb.com/Our-Pies.html She wrote a weekly food column for the Sun Community Newspapers.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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