Along with the cold winds and falling leaves of autumn comes a day that is revered by the little ghosts and goblins who wander out with large plastic bags with high hopes of filling them with delicious treats.
That would mean all types of chocolates and well-known candy bars, bags of chips or pretzels and a can of some sort of soft drink, which makes the bag get heavy faster.
For children or adults who might need a gluten-free snack, Pretzel Perfection has individual packages of 100 calories, and the pretzels come in unusual flavors such as garlic herb, tomato basil, stone ground mustard, chipolte barbecue and lemon toffee. They join the already popular Pretzel Clusters that come in flavors of Pacific trail, spicy cherry pistachio and toffee and peanut butter.
IN THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAY — Katie Rogers, 12, and Abby Nightingale, 12, both of Smithfield, have yet to choose a Halloween outfit but they get into the spirit of the holiday with some ghost, goblin, Indian maiden and pumpkin reminders. This is the time of year for unusual foods and doughnuts. -- Esther McCoy
I am an avid fan of the food show, "The Chew" which noted a poll showed children and parents both favor purchased treats over homemade ones, which mothers are inclined to pitch.
Maybe one homemade treat that would be kept and consumed in a hurry, however, is a popcorn ball.
Since October is National Popcorn Poppin' month, I thought it would be nice to start with a recipe for Green Halloween Zombies, but first let me tell you that popcorn is one of America's oldest and most beloved snack foods. It was discovered thousands of years ago in the Americas and has beguiled consumers for centuries with its mythical, magical charm. What other food product can change from a tiny hard-kerneled object to a soft, white and fluffy snack?
Today it is praised for its nutritional and economic value, and Americans consume some 16 million quarts of popcorn each year, or roughly one quart per person, per week.
Here is the promised zombie recipe. It makes seven scary creatures, so make plenty if there is a party.
Green Halloween Zombies
2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cups mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons lime gelatin powder
Red gum balls
Flat green candy strips or fruit leather
Green sugar sprinkles
Place popped popcorn in a large bowl; set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir marshmallows into butter until melted. Stir in gelatin powder until evenly colored. Pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated. With buttered hands, shape popcorn into seven oval shapes.
Flatten one oval shape slightly and squeeze one end to form a skull shape. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining shapes. To decorate, press two red gum balls into each skull to form eyes. Press candy corn into skull to form teeth. Use scissors to trim candy strips and press on top for hair. Sprinkle with green sugar sprinkles. Allow to set for about 20 minutes before wrapping individually in plastic wrap or serve immediately.
Note: Black licorice strings could be used for the hair as well.
For diabetic youngsters, the "Disney Cookbook for Families with Type 1 Diabetes" has a trail mix ball that has 133 calories, with 6 grams fat, 16 grams total carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber and 3 grams protein. It is one carbohydrate choice. And it was noted that if it were made from gluten-free oats, it would fit both health circumstances.
Peanut Butter Trail Mix Balls
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice
Mix together peanut butter and honey until smooth. Gradually add oats and flaxseed. Add chocolate chips and nuts and dried fruit. Blend in the mixer or smush together by hand. Roll into ping-pong size balls and put in paper mini-muffin cups. They will be less sticky if they are stored in the refrigerator overnight but can be eaten right away. They freeze well, too, layered on wax paper in an airtight container.
Fried desserts are popular with children. Take doughnuts for instance. This sopaipilla is a square type of fried cookie that is usually sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with honey. It was a recipe from the 1982 Weirton Daily Times Cookbook Contest, coordinated by Ruth Plunkett. Karen S. Finnegan of Weirton was the cook who submitted it.
3 cups unsifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter or shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar and honey, optional
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the eggs and sugar together very well and add to dry ingredients with the water, just enough to make the dough soft. Knead on a floured board until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with a towel and let stand 30 minutes or longer. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 3-inch squares. Deep fry several at a time in 360-degree oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn to evenly brown. Drain on paper towels before dipping in sugar-cinnamon mix, confectioners' sugar or drizzle with honey. Makes 3 dozen.
This recipe from the 1982 Weirton Daily Times Cookbook Contest reminded me of drop doughnuts. It calls for whole wheat flour, something that was not stressed much 31 years ago. It is from Karen S. Finnegan again. She must have been a great cookbook contestant.
Skillet Sweet Bread Balls
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup milk, scalded
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat flour
Add butter to scalded milk; stir until melted. Add honey. Cool slightly. Stir in beaten egg. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir into milk mixture, along with whole wheat flour. Pour oil into the skillet about 1 1/4 inch deep and heat to 360 to 370 degrees. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into hot oil. Fry until deep golden brown, turning to brown evenly on all sides. Drain and partially cool before rolling in cinnamon sugar. Don't let them cool completely before rolling in the sugar. Makes 36.
Leona Gardner of Burgettstown had a recipe for mashed potato doughnuts, something that Katie Rogers' grandmother won a grand prize for in the Herald-Star Cookbook Contest, but I am not sure of the year.
Mashed Potato Doughnuts
2 1/2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream shortening with half of the sugar. Beat eggs with remaining sugar and add potatoes. Add the milk. Sift remaining ingredients and combine with first mixture. Blend all ingredients together. Add a little more flour if necessary. Dough should be as soft as can be handled. Turn on floured board, roll out 1/2-inch thick and cut with doughnut cutter. Fry and drain on ungreased paper or paper towel. They can be drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, cinnamon sugar or eaten plain.
Note: The doughnut holes can be fried, and children will eat them up in a monster minute.
Here is a recipe that Dragana Lazic, who will be a cookbook judge for our Holiday Cookbook Contest coming up on Nov. 7, made at one of her cooking schools.
This recipe is from the "Classic Candy" cookbook but it is much like our cooking lady's version. I don't really like chocolate, but these were so good.
2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies or hazel nut wafer cookies
2 cups toasted hazelnuts
1 cup Nutella
1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, optional
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
In a food processor, pulverize cookies and hazlenuts. Add the Nutella and liqueur and pulse until mixed. Refrigerate mixture for about 20 minutes. When firm enough to handle, form into bite-size balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 10 to 15 minutes. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Dip each ball into the chocolate and place on a parchment-lined tray to set. Refrigerate another 10 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)