Many of us remember Halloween not so much for the decorations, the pumpkins, the donuts, or the cider as much for the ritual of “trick or treating”, in costume, throughout the neighborhood on a leaf blown, moonlit night.
Actually, Trick or Treating goes back a way. And not just in our own country. As far back as Middle Ages, Wassailing (singing for treats), Souling, (the poor visiting homes and trading food for prayers for the dead on Hallowmas (November 1st), and Guising, a late 19th century Scottish tradition of masqueraders traveling door to door with carved turnip lanterns “begging” for fruit, cakes and money. In fact, many European countries adopted traditions somewhat similar to our modern “trick or treat” well before the first “goblins” hit the streets in America.
On this side of “the pond”, the tradition of “trick or treating” began to creep into our culture at the turn of the 20th century.
But, it wasn’t until the idea began to appear in children’s books (Jack and Jill) & Charles Schultz (Peanuts), then on radio, (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) and finally in a Walt Disney Cartoon in the early 50’s that the idea really took a foot hold.
When the new “magic box” called “television” finally came along and blew more oxygen on an already fledgling fire by depicting Halloween and Trick or Treating in early sit-coms and variety shows, the nation’s costumed youth predictably took to the neighborhoods each late October like swallows returning to Capistrano.
Of course, as we get older, and “reason” finally prevails that we can’t keep this guise up forever…the gifts we once received on the doorsteps of our neighborhood are replaced by the enjoyment of watching our own children prepare for the BIG NIGHT each year as we once did.
It never gets old, and THAT, is a gift in itself.
Of course, most parents have their own pre-Halloween rituals, especially if you have young ones….
• Costumes…………………. Check
• Home Decorations……….. Check
• Carved Jack-O-Lanterns… Check
• Trick or Treat Candy…………Check
One thing you may want to add to that list, to make the evening for your kids even more special, are a few Halloween inspired “treats” they can enjoy before and after the “BIG haul”… First, this is a night for the kids but Mom & Dad should enjoy it too! One way you can enjoy the evening more is by taking the night off from cooking. How? Let the kids get involved in their after treating dinner before they leave the house. It will also be something for them to look forward to once they return with their “spoils”.
Nino’s Take n’ Bake Cheese Pizzas make an excellent base to top with all your kid’s favorite toppings. You can even get into the “spooky” spirit with toppings like:
• Pepperoni Worms (cut Stick Pepperoni into 4” long pieces then thin, worm like sticks (cut like match sticks)…they’ll curl up while cooking too!
• Cut deli sliced ham into Bat Shapes (the wings will “curl” while cooking.
• Orange colored Bell Pepper pumpkin cut outs (1” to 2” in diameter with cookie cutter”)
Jack – O – Lantern Pasta (Serves 4 to 6)
Admittedly, this dish requires a bit of cooking on Mom or Dad’s part but the kids can help and it’s an easy recipe.
- 1 – 8” Diameter Round Shaped Pumpkin
- 2 Lbs Fuscilli or Rotini Pasta
- 1 – 24 oz Jar Salvaggio’s Pasta Sauce (Marinara)
- 12 – 1 oz Meatballs
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
- 6 to 8 Salvaggio’s Soft Bread Sticks
1. Have the kids help by cutting a 6” diameter lid off of the top of the pumpkin and scoop out interior cleanly. Discard all interior pulp and seeds.
2. Bake pumpkin shell and lid for approximately 30 minutes in a 350 F oven.
3. While pumpkin is cooking, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente then toss in hot pasta sauce.
4. Also, re-heat or cook meatballs until thoroughly cooked through.
5. Time cooking so that all components are cooked and ready to assemble at the same time.
6. Remove pumpkin from oven and place on an attractive, Halloween themed platter.
7. Add meatballs on top of pasta then arrange bread sticks in pumpkin cavity with ends protruding from open mouth.
8. Sprinkle with ½ of the Parmesan cheese shreds and leave remainder for personal garnishment.
Dirt Pudding Graveyard (Serves 6 to 8)
This dessert can be made early in the day with lots of help from the kids.
1. Start with a packaged instant or prepared pudding (chocolate is best) and spoon 1 inch deep in a clear, Pyrex type casserole dish approximately 8” x 10”.
2. Decorate your favorite rectangular cookies (or Graham Crackers) with R.I.P. Tombstone inscriptions and fun graveyard like themes with squeeze tube frosting. Set aside.
3. Top the pudding with crumbled Oreo or crumbled chocolate cake (or better BOTH), make rocks from chocolate or vanilla meringue kisses or molded, moist cake crumbs and leaves from roll up fruit (cut outs).
4. Insert Tombstones into pudding “dirt at upright angles.
Caramel Apple Cupcakes (Makes about 12 – 3” Cupcakes)
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) Spice Cake Mix
2 cups Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored & Chopped
20 Wrapped Caramels
3 TBSP Milk
1 Cup Pecans or Peanuts, Toasted & Chopped
12 Popsicle (Craft) Sticks
1. Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in chopped apples.
2. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups three-fourths full.
3. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
4. In a small saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes.
5. Sprinkle with nuts.
6. Insert a wooden stick into the center of each cupcake.