All Hallows Eve, so named because it was once thought to be a time of the wandering dead, is fast approaching. It's now known as Halloween on Oct. 31, or any date that a village or city has elected to hold Trick or Treat night.
All Hallows Eve dates back almost 2,000 years and was known by the Celts as Samhain. History shows that it was a celebration of the end of summer and the coming of autumn.
Once it was ghosts, witches, pirates or hoboes who knocked on the door at Halloween but now you can expect anything from the Green Hornet or Derek Jeter to Madonna on the doorstep begging for treats.
A QUICKLY VANISHING TREAT — Mike McElwain, online editor with the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, brought a container of caramel corn to the newsroom, and it vanished like ice cubes in July. I managed to sneak some home to take a picture. -- Esther McCoy
The most fun is coming back home or to the home with a party going on to count the loot and enjoy a few treats other than Hershey bars or Tootsie Rolls.
Here are a few Halloween treats that would be quite tasty.
The newsroom had a chance to sample the caramel corn made by Mike McElwain from this recipe of a popular Halloween treat.
Mike's Caramel Corn
4 cups popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo light or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1 stick
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spray a large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn that has been popped and place in a preheated 250 degree oven while preparing caramel topping. Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir constantly and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes without stirring the mixture; remove from heat. While hot, stir in both baking soda and vanilla. Pour caramel mixture over warm popcorn. Stir to coat well. Bake for 45 minutes in 250 degree oven, stirring every 15 minutes to coat popcorn as much as possible. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let mixture cool and break apart into smaller pieces. Store in a well-sealed container.
Rice Krispie treats have been popular for years, but now they have a Halloween flavor and color.
Marshmallow Crispy Treats
1/4 cup butter
6 cups miniature marshmallows
12 drops yellow food coloring
4 drops red food coloring
6 cups crisp rice cereal
1 1/2 cups candy corn
1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts
Microwave butter in a large microwaveable bowl on high for 45 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows and toss to coat. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes or until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring in food colorings after 45 seconds to make an orange color. Add cereal, candy corn and peanuts. Mix well and with greased hands, press onto the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Cut each bar diagonally in half. Makes 24 servings for hungry goblins or ghosts.
These are great "dipper" appetizers, and if you have any zucchini still lingering around in the refrigerator, they can be used up this way. And if you prefer not to use beer, substitute club soda for the batter. It makes for a crisp coating for the zucchini. But squash, egg plant or green tomatoes can be used instead. A bowl of marinara sauce would be great for dipping the veggies, too.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-ounce bottle of beer
Two 12-ounce zucchini
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon cumin
Oil for frying
1/2 cup ranch or honey mustard salad dressing
Chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges, optional
Combine flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt together. Whisk in beer and egg until smooth. Let batter stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, quarter zucchini lengthwise, cutting into 4-inch long pieces. Toss with Old Bay and cumin. In large skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees by a frying thermometer. Add zucchini to batter; toss to coat. Remove, letting excess batter drip off. Fry in batches, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. If desired, sprinkle with parsley and serve with ranch or honey-mustard salad dressing and a sprinkle of lemon.
This recipe is from the Idaho Potato Commission. Its goal is to bring spooks and spuds together, and it isn't always about the candy.
Yummy Mummy Heads
4 medium Russet or Idaho Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, about 2 pounds total
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup pizza sauce
16 turkey pepperoni slices, coarsely chopped
32 pitted, ripe olives
8 mozzarella string cheese, unwrapped, room temperature
1/4 of a red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slightly trim opposite sides of potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into fourths, creating four, flat ovals or planks. Place on a large foil-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides of the potatoes with the oil, sprinkle evenly with the oregano, salt and black pepper. Bake 8 minutes, turn and bake 7 minutes on the other side or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and turn potatoes again. Spoon equal amounts of the pizza sauce over each, about 2 teaspoons per slice. Sprinkle evenly with the pepperoni. Place an olive near the center of each potato slice to form a nose. Pull off thin strips of cheese and lay across the potato to form mummy bandages. The cheese can hang over the edges of the potato slightly. They will form to the shape of the potato when melted. Cut the remaining olives in half lengthwise and place two halves above the nose to form the eye sockets. Place capers and bell pepper cubes in the center of each olive half to form the eyeballs. Bake 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese has melted slightly. Remove with a flat spatula and place on a large serving platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.
This is an excellent hot drink to serve after chaperoning the kids around on a cold Trick or Treat night. It can be made in a crockpot or on the stove and ladled out into mugs. The recipe will likely have to be doubled if there are more than six people in attendance.
Cinnamon Spice Cider
2 quarts apple cider
1 1/2 quarts cranberry juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
5 cinnamon sticks
Teaball full of whole cloves
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. It can be served with an extra stick of cinnamon to use as a stirrer.
These apple fritters have been popular at many festivals featuring apples, and they are good extended over to the Halloween season. Make sure they are served warm. If you don't want to be frying them when company is around, make ahead and warm them in a 250 oven for 10 minutes. Make sure the fritters are dusted with confectioners' sugar or cinnamon and granulated sugar before serving. This recipe is from the Family Favorites Cookbook.
1/2 cup sugar
Dash of salt and cinnamon
1 cup flour
3 or 4 apples, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
Combine sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon and flour. Add milk until mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. Add apples to batter and stir by hand. Lightly oil a frying pan or griddle. Spoon mixture onto surface to desired size. Fry until golden brown on each side. Sprinkle with cinnamon and granulated sugar or confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.
Here is a sweet bread that is a combination of canned pumpkin, spices, chocolate chips and walnuts. It is from Family Favorites Cookbook. It is good served warm or cold and spread with cream cheese.
Autumn Spice Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 eggs, lightly whipped
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
Grease two loaf pans; set aside. Combine flour, soda and spices. Cream butter with sugar and pumpkin. Blend in eggs. At low speed, add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Mix in chocolate chips and one cup walnuts. Stir to blend. Pour into loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Top with spice glaze that follows. Makes two loaves.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 to 3 teaspoons cream or milk
1/2 cup remaining nuts left from bread recipe, toasted
Combine dry ingredients, blending cream or milk until mixture becomes the consistency of a glaze. Drizzle or spread on loaves when removed from the oven and still warm. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Slice and enjoy.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)