Tag Archives: cheap

Last Minute Halloween Ideas

The past three weeks have been insane! I’ve been working like crazy. I finally handed my first cookbook off the publisher and it should be printing soon. Aside from that, I’ve taken on a ton of food writing this month. The holidays are good for food writers, but I’ve neglected my column. So here are some last minute Halloween ideas for your party tonight.

For me, creativity is key when celebrating. I don’t want to spend a ton of money, so I immediately hit a dollar-type store before I do any other buying. Then I supplement with merchandise from bigger retailers. It’s amazing what you can find for $1 to use for a party.

One of my favorite finds was a bag of plastic assorted spooky rings (a mix of spider, skulls and bats).  I use the rings around the stem of a wine glass to decorate it; use them to top cupcakes; glue them to a sturdy toothpick (the plastic variety) to skewer meatballs or fruit;  use them to decorate food plates (just be sure it’s obvious this isn’t edible).

ring wine charms

rings

You can also dangle plastic spiders from the ceiling on dental floss; place them in cobwebs; or cut a sliver into a pumpkin or winter squash and have the spiders climbing all over the pumpkin, which is how I serve one of my recipes this week.

An idea I saw online was to freeze ice in plastic gloves and then use those to chill punch. You can also fill plastic gloves with candy or popcorn to serve.

I like to add a splash of food color to drinks. I’ve found that a few drops of food dye to Moscato doesn’t seem to affect the flavor. I’ve tried other dry wines and it does change the taste; I think this works in Moscato because the wine is sweet. Just empty a bottle of Moscato into a pitcher and add 3 drops of red dye and 6 drops of yellow and stir. You can adjust the color as needed with more dye.

orange moscato

I’ve also added food dye to margaritas and it doesn’t change the taste either. If you serve orange margaritas, rim the glass in green salt and place a spider ring on the stem of the glass.

Take your favorite hummus recipe and spread it on a plate (store-bought is fine). Then buy a jar of roasted red bell peppers and puree 1 of the pepper without liquid. Place in a piping bag and make a pumpkin face on the hummus or a scary face. You can add a celery stick to the top of its head to look like a stem.

The flavor of the roasted pepper is great with hummus. It can be a little runny, so if you want to make a bloody looking creature this will serve you well.

Hummus with roased red pepper

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Spooky Squash Stuffed with Roasted Garlic Hummus

My Halloween fun continues! I’ve mentioned before that I love hummus. I eat it all the time. And I didn’t even know that it has a low glycemic index. I just found that out this week.

One thing I don’t love in hummus though is an overwhelming amount of garlic. This hummus is mild but has a rich flavor because I roast the garlic first.

Roasted garlic adds so much depth of flavor and you can use the remaining garlic cloves to create a second easy dip for your party (see the instructions under my recipe).

You can make this a day in advance, just be sure to cover the hummus with plastic wrap. Happy Halloween

I served it to company last night and they loved it.

You can make a little sign on a toothpick so guests know what they are eating. I love doing that at parties.

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Spooky Squash Stuffed with Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 small Kabocha Squash

1 head of garlic (you will roast it all, but only use three cloves)

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

1 1/2 tablespoons of the chickpea liquid reserved from the can

3 tablespoons tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cloves of roasted garlic (see recipe below)

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt or to taste

To roast the garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take an entire head of garlic and cut off the white tops of the garlic and drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. You are not peeling the garlic, you just want to cut off the tops to expose all the cloves.

Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the head of garlic has caramelized (your house will smell incredible). Allow to cool and then squeeze out the garlic cloves.

Before making hummus, reserve some of the liquid from the chickpeas and drain the rest of the can.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, chickpea liquid, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, roasted garlic, cumin and salt and pulse until smooth. Adjust salt, if desired.

Cut off the top of the Kabocha squash and remove the seeds and any stringy flesh. Use a knife to cut thin slits around the outside of the squash top and even the base, if desired. Stuff plastic spider rings in these crevices or any other creepy ring. Fill the center of the squash with hummus. Serve with pita chips and vegetables.

Tip: Serve the rest of the roasted garlic as a dip. Chop the cloves and add it to ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Warm it slightly (just slightly) on the stove top and add ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon rosemary and 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt, and serve it with French bread.

I couldn’t decide which way I wanted to style my photos this week. Black background or orange? Spider web or no spider web? Which do you prefer?

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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas (Quick and Economical)

If you want a delicious dinner for less than $5 per person (with leftovers), make this.

This meal comes together in about 15 minutes and cost me  $5 total to make (but I had all the spices, butter and salsa on hand already so I didn’t buy those).

It serves 2 and there’s plenty of curried chickpeas leftover for lunch the next day, Simply make some rice and serve the chickpeas over that or stuff them into a baked potato.

You can also buy two acorn squashes and stuff those and this will serve 4.

The nutty chickpeas, spicy curry, and crunchy green pepper and were a beautiful contrast to the sweet, tender acorn squash flesh.

It was cheap, quick, filling, delicious and healthy. This dish is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C, A, and B.

I hope you enjoy it

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas (Quick and Economical)

Serves 2

1 acorn squash

2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons

1 medium red onion

1 green bell pepper

1 ¼ teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained

½ cup salsa

Cut acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Stab the flesh several times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 teaspoon of butter in the cavity of each half. Place in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.

While that microwaves, chop onion and bell pepper and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add onion and cook 3 minutes. Then add green bell pepper and chickpeas and cook 4 minutes. Add salsa and heat through.

When squash is done, remove it carefully and peel back the plastic wrap carefully being sure not to put your hand in front of the steam.

Stuff each squash with curried chickpea mixture and serve.

Wasabi and Cucumber Deviled Eggs for Easter

I am still taking a break from my rotisserie chicken recipes to offer up some Easter dishes. Easter is one of my favorite holidays.

Easter would not feel like Easter without deviled eggs. My Wasabi and Cucumber Deviled Eggs are delicious and refreshing. There’s enough wasabi to taste it, but not enough to make your nostrils flare.

Whenever I cook for company, I try to find the middle of the road in terms of flavors. You can add more if you love wasabi or know your guests won’t mind extra heat. I am actually pretty traditional when it comes to deviled eggs, but I love these. It’s a slight twist on a classic.

Whenever I make hard boiled eggs, I always boil two or three extra because there’s always one or two eggs that is deformed or rips when you’re peeling it, so extras are essential. My recipe calls for six, so boil eight or nine. If you’re fortunate enough that they all work out, you can fill extra egg whites with deviled egg mix because there is always leftover yolk mix once everything has been mixed in.

Wasabi and Cucumber Deviled Eggs

Serves 4-6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               *6 large eggs

2 tablespoons finely minced cucumber (be sure it’s minced fine)

3 tablespoons Miracle Whip

1 tablespoon Woeber’s Sandwich Pal Wasabi Sauce, plus ½ teaspoon

Salt and pepper to taste

If you have a favorite boiling method, use it. If not, follow mine.

To boil the eggs: Place eggs in a large pot so they are in a single layer and fill with water that rises 2 inches above eggs. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, boil for 5 minutes. Cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Let rest 15 minutes. Drain water off and then scoop ice over eggs to cool.

When cool, peel eggs and slice in half horizontally. Remove yolks and place in a bowl.

Mash yolks with a fork and then add cucumber, Miracle Whip, wasabi sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined and mostly smooth. Refill egg whites with this mixture and cover and refrigerate until time to serve.