Are you ready for Halloween?
Only 2 more days until little ghosts and goblins roam the neighborhood, filling up their buckets with candy and treats. My kiddos are beyond the age of trick-or-treating, and I actually miss it. Yep, never thought I'd say that! Especially since trick or treating in the PNW usually means slogging around in the rain, balancing an umbrella, and trying NOT to lose kids down dimly light streets.
Our first house was in the most PERFECT neighborhood because of all the trick or treaters. Literally, our front door never closed, and we would easily go through 6 Costco bags of candy. Yep, 6. And because of the magic of a small town, we knew everyone (well, almost everyone) who came to the door. Kids would bound into the house, spreading out their loot on the floor, trading Almond Joys for Snickers and slurping down huge mugs of warm hot chocolate. Their parents would stand around in the doorway, and I'd refill their tumblers with mulled wine or "grownup" hot chocolate. My husband and I would flip a coin on whose turn it would be to take the kids out for another round of trick or treating.
That was how we did Halloween.
Nowadays, with my kiddos LONG over trick or treating, we spend Halloween watching scary movies (and if you love scary movies and HAVEN'T yet seen the new Halloween -- run, don't walk, to your nearest theater!), and eating a small bag, or two of candy.
BUT, if you are still deeply entrenched in this holiday, I've got some fun tricks and treats for you.
First off, The Treats………
- 1 box (1 lb 6.25 oz) original brownie mix
- Vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups creamy white frosting (from 16-oz container)
- 16 large marshmallows
- black decorating gel (from 0.68-oz tube)
- Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray. Make brownies as directed on box for 8- or 9-inch square pan. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from pan by lifting foil; peel foil away. For brownies, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.
- Heat frosting in microwavable bowl uncovered on High 30 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds, until frosting can be stirred smooth and fluid. If frosting becomes too firm while decorating, microwave 5 seconds; stir.
- Top each brownie with 1 large marshmallow. Spoon 1 tablespoon frosting over each marshmallow to coat. Let stand until frosting is set, about 30 minutes. Use black gel to make eyes and mouths.
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- Brown or black decorating gel
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using the whisk attachment and an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks just start to form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue beating on high speed until very stiff peaks form, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more.
- Scoop out large spoonfuls of the whipped egg whites and place them a few inches apart on the cookie sheet, using your fingers to shape the mounds like ghosts. Turn off the oven and place the meringues in the oven to dry, at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Remove the meringues from the oven and draw on eyes with the decorating gel.
Pumpkin Cheese Ball
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups shredded Sharp cheddar
- 3 tablespoons minced onion
- 2 tablespoons salsa (use your favorite brand)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
- 2 small bags of nacho Doritos, crushed
- Stem of a bell pepper
- 1 bag of black tortilla chips
- In a stand mixer, blend cream cheese with the cheese, onion, salsa, cumin and jalapeno. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter.
- Lay another large piece of plastic wrap across the bottom piece to form a “T.”
- Scoop cheese mixture onto plastic wrap and wrap the plastic around the cheese, using the wrap to form the mixture into a 5-inch pumpkin-shaped ball; chill at least 2 hours.
- To serve, unwrap, roll in the crushed chips and press a bell pepper stem into the top.
- Place on a platter and surround with the tortilla chips. Serve immediately.
and now for The Tricks………
Looking for an easier way to clean out your pumpkin? Because, I don't know about you, but scooping out stringy, gooey, slimy pumpkin guts has NEVER been my favorite thing to do. Ever.
BUT.....with this trick, you can scoop them a whole lot easier!
Use an ice cream scooper.
So much easier than a spoon!
Speaking of guts, here's a fun (and creepy) use for them.
If you’re hosting a haunted house, need an idea for your child’s classroom Halloween party, or want an extra decoration for your house, put the guts in a large witch's cauldron. Cover the cauldron with some "cobwebs" for a spooky mystery box that is guaranteed to be a hit at the party.
OR, take an old shoe box, fill it with the pumpkin guts, put the lid back on and cover with fun Halloween paper, orange gift wrap or kraft paper. Decorate the paper with scary stickers, googly eyes or other fun Halloween decorations. Cut a slit in the top, big enough for someone to put their hand. You can either label the box "zombie guts" or "brains" OR have kids guess what's inside.
Before you throw away the pumpkin seeds.......don't!
If you've never had fresh-from-a-pumpkin toasted pumpkin seeds now is the time to sort through the guts (I know this part isn't fun, but get your kids to help and I promise it will be worth it!), pick out the seeds, rinse them, bake them and see what you've been missing.
The key is to spread them thinly across a sheet pan, drizzle with melted butter and salt. Bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Let them cool and I pinky swear they are so good you won't want to share them. Toss them on top of soup, in a salad, or eat them by the handful.
Hope you enjoy these treats (and tricks!) and don't forget to tag your photos #amenuforyou. Leave a comment below and let me know YOUR favorite treat OR trick! I'm partial to Reese's and I ALWAYS toss out the candy corn.....always.
Happy Halloween and Happy Cooking!