Nothing sets a spooky Halloween mood quite like watching a scary movie and enjoying some delicious fall treats. Here are a few of my fall favorites to get you in the Halloween spirit.
To get in the spirit of the season, I recommend starting with a movie. As an avid fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I find October to be the perfect time to revisit his classic stories of horror. For your viewing pleasure, I offer up this (slightly cheesy but still creepy) 2009 made-for-tv adaptation of one of my personal favorites, “The Dunwich Horror”
To combat the chill this story is sure to settle deep in your bones, try this recipe for one of my favorite fall soups:
yield: 8 SERVINGS
for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
additional cheesy yum:
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over-cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.
While your soup is simmering, start on some parmesan pretzel bites.
Parmesan Pretzel Bites
Texas size Rhodes Frozen roll dough (*as many as you like – each roll makes four bites)
coarse salt, parmesan, garlic
Take a thawed roll. Cut it in four equal sections. Place dough bites on greased sheets. I placed five across and five down on large baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and let dough rise until double in size. (about 35-45 minutes) Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. When dough has risen, plop about 10 pieces into the boiling water, tossing gently for about 45 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon, and place bites on paper towels to drain slightly. Move bites to greased baking sheets, and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until done and golden brown.
Brush bites with melted butter, sprinkle with Kosher or Sea Salt, garlic and toss in Parmesan cheese.
(You can also make Cinnamon and Sugar bites. Make a mixture of Cinnamon and sugar: About 1 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, and mix together well. After you butter the pretzel bites, toss in cinnamon and sugar mixture.)
You can serve the Parmesan Pretzel bites with a cheddar dip or the Cinnamon and Sugar Pretzel bites with Vanilla glaze. So yummy . . . so simple!
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Combine sugar, milk, butter and vanilla and mix well.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of grated Cheddar Cheese.
Melt the butter in a med. size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until blended, and
butter has turned lightly golden brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar Cheese until smooth and all of the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Shake a few red pepper flakes into sauce for added zing
What goes best with all that savory deliciousness? Chocolate, of course. Chocolate and pumpkin? Even better!
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies – Fudgy brownies. Creamy pumpkin and cream cheese swirl. Yummy!
Makes 16 Servings
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 box Betty Crocker™ Premium Brownies Ultimate Fudge
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 9-inch square pan with shortening or cooking spray. In small bowl, beat all filling ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Set aside.
Make brownie batter as directed on box, using 1/4 cup oil, 2 tablespoons water and the egg. Spread 3/4 of the batter in pan. Spoon filling by tablespoonfuls evenly over batter. Spoon remaining brownie batter over filling. Cut through batter several times with knife for marbled design.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 1 inch from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
Whether you’re hosting the neighborhood Halloween party or just having folks over before or after trick-or-treating, I hope this menu helps you have frightfully good time!
I would also love to hear from you. What are your favorite fall foods? Scary movies?