Easy, fun, kid friendly, and inexpensive Halloween party recipes

Shortly it will be Halloween, the first of the winter-into-spring group of monthly holidays (Do the math: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, Easter).

It seems somehow fitting that this first of the holiday seasonals is steeped in scaring its celebrants. Get into the fun of scaring and being scared, and it’s a baby step to planning and honoring Thanksgiving, shopping and decorating for loved ones’ presents and presence, and singing carols for Christmas, ringing in the — well, you get the trend. Halloween begins months of showing our fun, creative and loving sides and, scary outfits notwithstanding, the desire and hope to please our family and friends.

To help you into the holiday mood, here are three Halloween recipes sure to bring out the caring and creative urges the coming seasons might require. Plus, they are easy and tasty and sure to bring smiles.

GHOULASH

Even the deadly undead have a favorite food

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 C onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 lbs. ground beef, lean

3 tsp garlic, minced

2 15 oz cans tomato sauce

2 15 oz cans petite diced tomatoes

3 Cs beef broth

3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 tsp seasoned salt

2 tbsp Italian Seasoning

3 bay leaves

2 Cs macaroni noodles, uncooked

1 C cheddar cheese, shredded

Add olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, bell pepper and ground beef then cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat and return pot to stove top. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, Italian seasoning, bay leaves and uncooked macaroni noodles. Stir and bring mix to a boil. Reduce heat to a light boil and stir occasionally until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cheddar cheese just before serving.

Halloween Tip: Offer a bowl of sour cream for a ghoulash topping. To make it a ‘ghoul-ISH’ topping, tell those around the table the cream was the ghouls’ coats or sweaters that melted when they were taken off so the ghouls could oversee making the ghoulash. Recipe serves 10.

WITCHES’ EYES APPETIZERS

Do you dare look into the eyes of a witch?

Fresh tomatoes (Roma tomatoes are the perfect size.)

fresh basil leaves

small mozzarella balls

black olives

Wash, then slice tomatoes to a medium thickness, Set slices aside to drain a few minutes. Slice the mozzarella balls into halves. (This makes a flat surface on one side for the mozzarella to rest. It will also have the added effect of a bulging eyeball!) Slice olives into halves.

 Place a slice of tomato on a leaf of fresh basil. On each slice of tomato, place a cut piece of mozzarella with the flat side down and gently puff up the top with a spoon to form an eye shape.

Take a drinking straw or other tubular item and gently insert into the middle of the cheese “eye” to create a hole for the pupil. Do the same for the black olives to make the pupils. Carefully insert each piece of black olive into the hole in the cheese balls to mimic the pupil of an eye. One tomato makes three to four or more eyes.

These appetizers can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered tightly, for two to three days.

SPIDERS FOR DESSERT

Who knew ghouls and witches also have pets

 Black string licorice

  Orange or white creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, like Oreos ®

 1tsp chocolate ready-to-spread frosting (from a 16-oz container)

  About 40 M&M’s® chocolate candies

For each cookie, cut eight 1 1/2-inch pieces of licorice, which will become the spider legs. Insert 4 pieces into filling on each side of each cookie, leaving enough licorice to form a leg.

Use the frosting to attach 2 M&M’s™ mini chocolate candies to the top of each cookie, for eyes.

Makes 10 or so ‘spiders’.

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