Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures
With Halloween just a few days away, now is the perfect time to plan the menu for your party. I look forward to admiring the costumes of the neighborhood kids and seeing what creative get-ups the adults come up with. Halloween in Central PA is often stretched into a two-day celebration, because in many neighborhoods trick-or-treating occurs on the night before Halloween. That means you need two nights of food ideas.
So whether you are welcoming a gaggle of school-aged trick-or-treaters before their hunt for candy or are having a costumed grown-up affair, I’ve scared up seven ideas to make this year the best ever.
Let’s start with something to wet your whistle. This beautiful idea from The Foodie Affair involves rum, fruit juice and club soda. However, it’s the black sugar rim that makes the drink look extra spooky. If you are having a kid-friendly party, you can use orange juice or Sunny D and skip the stemware, but preserve the black-and-orange theme.
Everybody loves pigs in a blanket, right? Those perfect little hot dogs wrapped in flaky crust are a hit with both kids and grownups. The folks at Pillsbury recommend this updated take: Slice the crescent roll dough or seamless dough sheet into about 40 strips and wrap them around the hot dog as though they are mummy bandages. After baking for 13 to 17 minutes, draw a face on the mummies with mustard. Voila!
I love that this eight-legged treat is more assembly than cooking, because some of us are not that talented in the kitchen. Buy chocolate mini doughnuts, large pretzel twists and M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces. This recipe instructs you to fill in the doughnut hole, but I skipped that step in the rush to get ready for the party, and it still looked cute! With pretzel halves making up the legs and M&Ms as eyes, these spiders are a salty and sweet treat that will liven up your table.
Regular deviled eggs would be appropriate to serve the little devils that show up to celebrate Halloween, but turning them into monster eyeballs amps up the ick factor. Make deviled eggs according to your favorite recipe or this one from The Gourmet Mama, add green food coloring to the egg yolks and refill the egg halves. Put an olive slice in the center of the now-green yolk and use a red food coloring pen or toothpick dipped in red food coloring to create the bloodshot look.
OK, I’ll place at least one vegetable on this list, even though it is Halloween and chances are you’ll consume a good portion of your body weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. This idea for carrot fingers can be used with ranch dressing or with your favorite party dip. I bring buffalo chicken dip to my friends’ house every year for Halloween, and I’m definitely replacing celery sticks with carrot fingers this year. Simply use a bit of cream cheese to affix a slice of almond to the end of a peeled baby carrot, turning the veggies into fingers right before your eyes. Prop a few up in your dip bowl for an extra “ew” from party goers.
The young and young-at-heart will giggle at these silly treats that only require three ingredients: apple slices, peanut butter and mini marshmallows. Parents looking for a way to get their kids to eat some fruit on Halloween should make a note of this recipe for Smiley Apples. Of course, ask attendees if anyone has a nut allergy before using the peanut butter. If you are making these in advance, squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices to prevent them from turning brown on the tray.
Dips are perfect for a Halloween party, since the meal is regularly interrupted by trick-or-treaters knocking at the door. This recipe is for a black bean taco dip dressed up with crackers arranged to make it look like a graveyard. On a holiday that is filled with candies and overloaded with sugar, this is an easy way to sneak fiber-rich beans, veggies and superfood avocados onto the table.
So those are my go-to recipes for Halloween parties. Between getting your costume ready, dressing up your kids, answering the doorbell and admiring all of the trick-or-treaters, Halloween can be a busy holiday. It is one of my favorites because it is not taken as seriously as Thanksgiving and doesn’t involve as much work as Christmas. Halloween is the perfect blend of friends, family and fun. There is nothing spooky about that.
Are you hosting a Halloween fete this year? What is on your menu? Leave your recipe ideas and advice in the comment section below.