On Halloween night kids of all ages (and many adults) go around from door to door, collecting enough sugary treats to rot out their teeth. Parents will beg them not to eat any of their booty until it’s been inspected carefully at the end of the evening. And truly most of the stuff will get home for the grand sort-out and trade-a-thon. But no one should ever think that a kid is going to resist eating at least a few pieces before the trudging and doorbell ringing is over. And if those few treats are consumed on an empty stomach, the prospect of sugar shock looms large and can threaten the trick-or-treater’s (and their parent’s) bedtime.
The solution? Well, maybe a partial solution anyway? Feed them a nice, healthy meal before they hit the streets. Yes, that seems like it could be hard when darkness falls just a few minutes after 6 o’clock, but with a little advanced preparation and a slow cooker, you could have a filling meal ready in just a few minutes. Dress it up in Halloween garb, and your kids might be willing to stick around for supper.
Beef stew has got to be one of the simplest and most common slow cooker meals. Simply toss the meat, any root vegetables you might like, and the liquids into the pot at the beginning of the day, turn it to low, and go off to work. When you arrive home, crank it up to high, drop in the softer veggies and you have a meal ready in less than 30 minutes. The recipe below can be easily adapted to a slow cooker. Just remember to keep out anything that might turn mushy with long cooking (in this case the zucchini, tomatoes and olives) and add them just before serving. Use your judgment about thickening the broth. If you like it runnier, leave it like it is. There’s more to mop up with your favorite crusty bread that way anyway.
Many folks like to do up Halloween proud and have a big party. Finger foods are the order of the day when you go with something like that. Here are a few ideas for party snacks:
• Hairball Salad with Saliva Dressing-recipe below. This seemed a little bland. You might want to consider making your favorite guacamole recipe and mashing the sprouts in with that.
• Fried Spiders-made with jalapeno poppers and onion rings, this tasty treat is easy to make, but very hard to keep the spiders intact. They tend to fall apart in the oven. Reassembling them on the serving plate, while yielding a rather flat bug, is still a fairly effective presentation.
• Punch-Green. It has to be green. Mountain Dew is a good choice for the main liquid. There is no other beverage that yields that special yellow-green glow. Float a frozen red hand in it. Beware, however, as the hand thaws fingers tend to fall off and one can not control which fingers will go first!
Whether you are talking about the last supper before trick-or-treating or a big, bang-up party for all your friends, Halloween food definitely needs to have two main components: quick & creepy. Search the internet, magazines (and newspapers) for ideas and start shopping!