Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween treats

I haven't posted in several days because our family was in sunny California. The highlight of the trip was the Nestle "Flavorologist" experience my older son won in an ice pop contest. It will take me a couple of days to write that up, so I thought I'd post the goodies I made for Halloween in the meantime. (May I just take a moment to note that our Halloween weather was beautiful and in the mid-60s?)

I wanted to make up little gifts for the neighbors who took in our mail and took care of Charlie (the dog). Because I had so little time, I decided on a Halloween bark.

I got the original idea from the Cooking Light Great Food bulletin board, but that version was too sweet for me. (My friend, Marie, says there's no such thing as "too sweet." Well, trust me, there is and this was.) I've tinkered with it, and now it's the way I like it -- a salty, sweet, and nutty mixture held together with a sweet white coating. I make barks often when I'm in a pinch. I always make them "by eyeball" and change them depending on the season and the contents of my pantry. Here's the way I made this year's Halloween bark, with approximate amounts.

Howlin' Halloween Bark

1 ½ rows Oreos, chopped
About 2 cups mini pretzels (I use little ABC pretzels.)
About ½ can cocktail peanuts
½ of a large bag of Reese’s pieces
Large bag white baking melts (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup (or so) candy corn, chopped
Halloween sprinkles, if you have some

Spread 1st four ingredients onto lightly greased 13 by 9 pans. The ingredients should almost cover the bottom of the pans in a single layer; set aside. (If desired, reserve some of the Reese’s pieces to put on top.)

Melt baking melts and oil in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.

Drizzle most of the melted stuff immediately over cookie mixture and stir to coat evenly (some of the cookie will break up and make the white stuff look a little grayish). Drizzle the rest of the melts over the mixture and spread around with spatula (this will make it look a little nicer). Top with candy corn and sprinkles, if you have them. Lightly press candy into mixture.

Cool until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

My sons were invited to a last-minute trick-or-treating gathering, and thought I'd bring something that both the kids and adults would enjoy, and that WASN'T SWEET. I decided on deviled eggs.

My Aunt Barb makes the world's best deviled eggs and here's what she does, in recipe form:

Aunt Barb's Deviled Eggs

Eggs (as many as you need)
Marie's Cole Slaw Salad Dressing (to taste)
Paprika and/or bacon bits, for garnish

Hard boil the eggs. Peel, cut in half, and remove the yolks. Mash the yolks, then add cole slaw dressing, to taste. Stuff the yolks back into the eggs and garnish with paprika and/or bacon bits. (Yes, it's that simple.)

My problem with this recipe is that I buy the cole slaw dressing, use a few tablespoons, and the rest of the jar goes to waste. I'm the only one in the family who eats cole slaw, so there's no reason for me to use a lot of this dressing. So I always experiment various ingredients to try to make my eggs taste like Aunt Barb's. They never do, but everyone seems to eat them anyway.

A couple of tips for deviled eggs:

1. Boil a few extra eggs. I like mounded yolks in deviled eggs, so I use the extra yolks and discard the whites that are pitted after peeling.

2. Don't use your Braun immersion blender to mash the yolks and mix up everything. It seemed like a clever idea when I tried it last night. I noticed that it seemed to be going slower and slower, but stupidly kept on using it. Then smoke started coming out of the top of it. I crossed my fingers that it just overheated and it would work today. Nope. That baby is fried. I killed the thing in less than a year. My husband is going to have a fit, because it was his favorite milk shake maker.

Anyway ... I garnished a few of the eggs with black olives cut up to look like spiders. The first time I did this was for a party a few years ago. I put an olive spider on every egg, and it took about an hour for my husband to cut the olives into skinny spider legs and for me to affix them to the yolks just so. At the party, I noticed most of those olive spiders had been picked off of the eggs and abandoned. After that, I just do a few that way -- and I can count on my older son to eat them.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween.

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