Halloween is not my favorite celebration. As a trick or treating kid, I loved it, sure. But times have changed and even though all my kids have loved it, trick or treating is not what it used to be.
I’ve never been good at the costume thing either. To me, that’s just a lot of mis-spent effort. Dreaming up and obtaining the pieces & parts for just the right costume has not been my cup of tea. I’ve avoided halloween parties in my adult life because of costume discomfort! The one winning costume idea that I would be happy to duplicate was when my husband & I went to our good friends party dressed as people in the wind. It was down to the night of the party when we were whining about what to be that my husband ventured forth with this idea. We were standing in front of an extremely messy kitchen island. We started grabbing for the papers and trash on that counter and taping it to the left side of our clothing. It was a riot and authentic and voila, my kitchen counter was clean again! We got extreme styling gel and glued our hair (ok my hair) to the extreme right. We found two old umbrellas and leaned right. That was it and we were the chuckle of the night!
But that really wore me out & topping that in the future was too much to handle. Miraculously, now there are costumes, adult costumes of every kind, readily available in halloween stores, catalogs & on the internet. And if I ever choose to dress up in the future, that’s what I’ll do!
I look at halloween as the gateway to the holidays, once we’ve passed that point, the countdown is clicking! Out come the boxes and the real celebrations start!
But the thing about halloween is that it’s marketed so well. There’s so much to do and look at. You’ve got candy and costumes and parties. You’ve got major lights and decorations of all kinds. And you’ve got fall and leaves and pumpkins.
And the food ideas are so much fun! Stay tuned we’ll have a few recipes at the end of this tirade!
Celebrations are so much more fun for me, when our kids have been involved. Dressing them up when they were small was much more of a pleasure than a chore. They were just so cute and excited. And as they grew, the fun came in the ideas and choices they made for costumes.
And the best tradition we ever started on halloween was to invite friends and their kids to our house for a pre-trick or treat party. The kids had fun comparing costumes and getting their individual and group pictures taken. We had special halloween punch and chips & dip, apples & caramel dip, homemade mini corn dogs, pumpkin stew and myriads of different cookies and candies that change off & on through the years.
It’s a feast and a gathering of admirers. A time to join the kids in kid-like fun. To take them door to door, while still being able to keep your door open to other kids.
This halloween was also our 14th and official last celebration at the grade school. We’ve watched some changes in the fun over the years, but even the big kids still like to go back and enjoy. It’s also like a grade school homecoming, cause so many of the kids go back. The highlight for me is the lineup of lighted pumpkins set out in rows by each class. They are amazing and beautiful to look at. I will always treasure those days, though now they will belong to someone else.
Those are our fun halloween days and memories.
And here are some of my best halloween recipes:
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1” cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup water
3 large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” cubes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2” pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons instant beef bouillon granules
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs) washed, with 8” circle around the top, discard seeds & loose fibers from inside.
In a dutch oven, brown meat in 2 tablespoons oil. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion & salt. Cover & simmer for 2 hours. Stir in bouillon & tomatoes.
Place pumpkin in a shallow sturdy baking pan. Spoon stew into pumpkin & replace the top. Brush outside of pumpkin with remaining oil. Bake at 325º for 2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender (do not over bake). Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Yum!
Mini Corn Dogs
1-2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 cup milk
24 miniature hot dogs
Honey Mustard Sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup prepared mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
In a large bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg & milk; stir into dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 6-8 times or until smooth. Roll out to 1/4” thickness. Cut with a 2-1/4” biscuit cutter. Fold each dough circle over a hot dog and press edges to seal (dough will be sticky) Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 450º for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Serve with the corn dogs. Yield: 2 dozen
1 cup seeds from freshly cut pumpkin, washed & dried
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons ranch salad dressing mix or taco mix
In a skillet, saute seeds in oil for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seeds to an ungreased 15X10 baking pan. Sprinkle with salad dressing mix or taco mix; stir to coat. Spread in a single layer. Bake at 325º for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Yield: 1 cup
Orange Witches’ Brew Punch
(Actually it would be good to make anytime and stays nice & cold, refreshing but not too sweet)
1 pkg (6 oz) orange gelatin
1/2-1 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 can (46 oz) apricot nectar
1 can (46 oz) pineapple juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
4 liters ginger ale, chilled
In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin & sugar in water. Stir in the apricot nectar, pineapple juice & lemon juice. Freeze in two 2 qt freezer containers. Remove from freezer; place contents of one container in a punch bowl; mash with potato masher. Stir in ginger ale just before serving. Repeat.