Halloween Food Fun…

My family loves Halloween.  Carving pumpkins, creepy decorations, random costumes, festive food…what’s not to like?!  In looking back at some older Halloween posts I got very nostalgic when seeing my little shirtless pumpkin carvers and matching costumes (those days are long gone).  Here’s a few of the recipes we’ve been testing out as well as some of my old favorites if you’re looking for inspiration for the big night.

Seems my kids’ school is always looking for fruit treats on Halloween.  I did these yummy and adorable Halloween Fruit Treats a few years ago.  (hollowed out oranges with fruit salad)  The school seems to think the health factor will balance out all that candy they’re going to haul in later in the night.  And the teachers know the kids are already on a high from the parades and costumes and don’t to deal with candy overloads as well.  I was in a middle school this week where I actually heard a school administrator announce over the loud speaker “Due to the recent violent activity there will be no more candy allowed in class”.  I knew candy was scary, but what kind of violence?  Stealing other’s candy?  And why do they allow candy in middle school anyways?  I was told there is a big difference between elementary and middle school rules regarding food.  Uh oh…

Another fun idea is the witches fingers.  You know…breadsticks with an almond for the nail.  These are great with soup or alone on a veggie and dip platter.  Again works at school celebrations as well as Halloween night potluck.  Last year it was all about the mummy potatoes.  We had so many potatoes left over from our pumpkin patch dig that I really needed to get creative.  And this was an easy and filling appetizer before heading out into the trick or treat darkness.

This year I’ve been experimenting with spaghetti nests.  You know…baking cooked spaghetti in muffin cups for a nest like presentation.  Yes, it could be easily dressed as a nest in springtime but for Fall it’s all about the mummy factor.  I’m adding a few olive and caper eyes and a pool of sauce (pesto or marinara) and this will be offered as a pre-candy course.

The ultimate test for me this year was the gelatin brain.  This was funny and tricky on many levels.  My father in law has a running joke that he was born the year of the brain (like the chinese zodiac).  This irritates my 7 year old daughter to no end.  He signs cards and gifts to her “love, the brain” and she yells back “You are not the brain!”  So when I saw this gelatin mold a few weeks before my in-laws visit I had to try it.  I am not a gelatin fan for many reasons.  Because my daughter is vegetarian I attempted the gelatin brain with a gelatin substitute.  I made it the night before “the brain’s” arrival, but it didn’t set.  My daughter and I snuck out to the store to get the old Jello gelatin with the understanding that, a) I tried, b) the joke was more important than her being able to eat it and c) Jello is gross.  This time it worked and everyone had a good laugh.  I found a photo and recipe of a gelatin brain that is super disgusting, so for Halloween with friends I’ll be making this one.  Let’s cross our fingers it works.

If you don’t feel like waiting for an 8 hour gelatin mold, or hollowing out 20 oranges, a few simple spiders or plastic skeleton (swimming in hummus, above) go a long way to dress up just about any food.  Cookie cutters are a great way to get festive too.  My sister sent us a few new ones this year.  With over 120 cutters can you believe I didn’t have tombstones, a scary cat or vampire fangs?  Now I do!  We made a batch of sugar cookies to test them out today  And let’s not forget to roast the pumpkin seeds after all the carving efforts.  Trick or treat!

 

 

 

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Crisp Rice Treats – Familiar but Vegan

O.K. so everyone calls these Rice Krispies treats even though they are made with other rice crisp  cereal and vegan marshmallows.  I guess it’s like calling a tissue a Kleenex.  Anyways, I thought these would be fun to make and package for my daughter’s soccer team snack.  My box had a peanut butter version, so I went online to look up the original.  This was a fun one to do with my kids.  Super easy.  I realized I hadn’t made these in quite a while when my son looked into the pot with an amazed face and said “Wow, these are cool looking!”

 

How can 3 little ingredients add to so much fun, ease and taste?  The thing is we don’t buy Rice Krispies Cereal (high fructose corn syrup) or regular marshmallows.  No worries.  We used Trader Joe’s Puffed Rice cereal (Ewewhorn makes one too – no GMO’s and organic) and found vegan, gelatin free marshmallows  (Dandies’ or Sweet & Sara).  Of course once my vegetarian daughter found out what was in regular marshmallows (gelatin is made of hides and  bone) she wasn’t haven’t any.  I don’t blame her – yuck!  I bet you could even make this recipe with vegan sticks, but no need to go there if you don’t have to.  The expense of the marshmallows alone is twice that of the regular gelatinous ones.  The funny thing is even one of my daughter’s friends who apparently rejected one of these earlier in the day at Starbuck’s, ate this version after the game.  Maybe we’re on to something.  Of course most people didn’t know about the vegan marshmallows so when another family made Rice Crispy treats another game my daughter passed and said they weren’t vegetarian and told the dad all about what’s in marshmallows.  Oops!  We need to work on simply saying “no thank you” without a political or nutritional statement.

 

Here’s the recipe, which may not be on the box of other  rice cereal.

Crisp Rice Treats

3 Tbl unsalted butter

10 oz. vegan or regular marshmallows

6 cups crisp/toasted rice cereal

Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add  cereal all at once. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into prepared 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan while warm. (Be careful if children are helping) Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. (Best if served the same day.)

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Message from a Fellow Mom – Share the Love, and Food

 

A well marked Petit Appetit Cookbook

I get a lot of nice emails from parents and caregivers thanking me for help with recipes and information in my cookbooks.  I received this message on New Year’s Day which was a very pleasant way for me to start year.  This DC mom not only made Petit Appetit recipes for her son, but also shared gift boxes full of homemade treats with her playgroup too.  I love that!  So with permission, here’s the story (and her fun photos) I’d like to share…

“I am a first time, stay-at-home mother to Nicholas who is two years old. I breastfed my little guy for the first year and fed him both handmade and store bought organic purees while he was still tiny and learning to eat.  As he grew bigger, he ate and still eats like a little bird. He is pretty typical, in that he likes pasta, grilled cheese, cheese wraps, Mac and cheese (he loves cheese) and turkey dogs, but while I was making these things healthier (whole wheat or veggie pasta, whole wheat bread and cheddar cheese, etc.) I longed for a fruit or veggie to be thrown in there, and perhaps a little variety (gasp- I know).

I went to my local library and checked out a slew of cooking for kids sneaky type books and yours was one of them. I went through it and marked about 20! recipes that I wanted to try. I have made the graham crackers, Lisa’s cookies, fruity gelatin, citrus corn muffins, banana apple bran muffins, couscous pudding, and this very morning my son and I enjoyed a mango tango smoothie together.  Your book was definitely my favorite as I believe in the organic lifestyle as much as I can find and that doesn’t break our budget, and the recipes are truly tasty to me, and more importantly to my son!

I do quite a bit of baking, and this year for the holiday season, instead of making tons of unhealthy cookies to give to my son’s friends and their mommies, I made gift baskets full of healthy goodies that could be eaten as a breakfast (citrus corn muffins or banana apple bran muffins), or snacks (graham crackers or Lisa’s cookies). Therefore, saving my mommy-friends a little extra time in the kitchen, and they had the piece of mind knowing that their kids were eating something homemade, healthy, and organic to boot. Some of the kids ate all the snacks right then and there during the play date and for others the goodies didn’t even last overnight. I was seriously happy that an entire morning in the kitchen paid off and well, they are your recipes so I have you to thank. Thank you again.  Sincereley, Aimee from a DC Burb”

 

Chef Nick
adorable zoo pancakes
fruity gelatin
Gift boxes of healthy, homemade muffins and cookies

 

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