Halloween Dinner Ideas – Monster Brains

halloween dinner ideasEach year for Halloween I love to dive into the food and all the creative ideas there are. There are so many fabulous ideas on how to create spooky, fun and healthy meals and snacks that I often have a hard time picking just one.

We usually have an entire day of Halloween meals and snacks, starting with pumpkin pancakes in the morning in fun Halloween shapes, then boo-nanas for snacks and something creative for supper. In the past I have made dinners such as monster face pizzas and hot dog mummies.

Last year I happened to be at my girlfriends house just before Halloween and she had this cooking show on tv that was highlighting some spooky Halloween dinner ideas. Of course they had lots of fun things going on but the one that stood out for me was the idea for Monster Brains. It is a super easy creative idea to make spaghetti and meatballs and give it a Halloween twist. I loved it! and decided right then that I was going to make it for Halloween dinner.

I was super excited as it was not only going to be fun but quick and easy to make. I am all about getting creative but sometimes I need creative to be fast!

Monster Brains

halloween dinner ideasred, yellow, orange peppers (number of peppers depends on how many people you’re serving as it is 1 per person)

cooked spaghetti

cooked meatballs

tomato sauce

Cut off the top of your pepper like you would when carving a pumpkin – around the top in a circle so you can take the lid off. Clean out the seeds.

Cut a face on the front of your pepper. Design it any way you like. You can go with fancy but that takes more time! I went with simple triangle eyes, nose and slit mouth.

Bake meatballs in oven (I make my own and premade these the day before and just reheated them). Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Rinse spaghetti with hot water in a colander. Fill each pepper with spaghetti and meatballs. Top with tomato sauce and place ‘lid’ of pepper on top. Have some of the spaghetti spilling out the sides for effect. Voila! one spooky monster brain supper!

halloween dinner ideas

My kids of course absolutely loved these and are already asking me if they can have that again for Halloween dinner this year. We may… or I may get creative and do something else!halloween dinner ideas

Halloween Martinis

IMG_4259I am so excited about Halloween this year! For the first time in years I am going to a Halloween party. That’s right, dressing up, going dancing and socializing with other adults. It’s been years since I have done this and though I have always wanted to have more of an adult experience around Halloween, it was often more about the kids, their costumes, their events and trick or treating. So my adult adventure never worked out.

Not that I don’t enjoy hanging with the kids and doing all kinds of activities with them around Halloween. Each year I find fun new Halloween crafts to do, create a Halloween menu for the day (which traditionally includes pumpkin pancakes – yum!), and add more to the decorations we have around the house and outside on the front lawn.

It’s fun, I get very excited (almost as much as I do for Christmas), as do the kids and we spend a good couple of weeks preparing, planning and expanding on our Halloween adventures.

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Bat Bites

But I would be lying if I said I am not looking forward to my adult Halloween. There’s just something about no bedtimes to worry about, no other people to be responsible for, and an evening where you can enjoy the company of other adults sans enfants.

So in the spirit of Halloween I started thinking about what I could do to add a little more ‘adult’ to my Halloween. What was out there that could make things a little more interesting? I always enjoy finding some new recipe to make in some kind of fun Halloween shape or theme. Last year I discovered Bat Bites, a cream cheese ball rolled in poppy seeds with tortilla chips for wings. Not only did they look super cool but they were also delicious!

This year I decided to go with some kind of Halloween drinks, some spooky concoction I could whip up in the kitchen. And with my new adventures in trying different martinis I decided there must be some kind of Halloween martini out there and would be the perfect fit! I hopped on Pinterest to see what I could find.

I was not disappointed, I found an abundance of Halloween themed martinis, the question was which one to try? Of course I wanted one that was sugar and dairy free, or one that I could modify easily. Yes I know, but this would just make things simpler and I would feel less gross after (I have really noticed that if I fall off the wagon, even a little bit with that I just feel sick after, my stomach is not happy at all).

I discovered a few and now have a list of martinis to try, such as the Black Widow and Witches Brew. But I did of course feel I should try at least one right away, so that I had something to share with everyone this week, you know to enjoy your adult Halloween this year.

The Poison Apple, a fabulous mixture of apple juice, pomegranite juice, honey and tequila, even a little healthy. Deadly in it’s title, it is also deadly delicious. I made two versions last night. First a virgin martini, omitting the alcohol, so that I could share with my son while we enjoyed our show for the evening. Then the full on version a little later, after he went to bed, you know so I could get a good idea of what it tasted like before I suggested it to all of you.

Both are very good, I love the pomegranite juice, but the one with the alcohol has a definite strength to it. Even if you are not a fan of tequila, you will likely still enjoy it as the juices and the honey sweeten it just enough to make it go down nice and smooth. You can even add in an apple floating in it for effect. Pretty cool.

I am looking forward to trying out those other martinis, though I have to purchase some ingredients first. There were even some recipes with dry ice, which would be super cool to do!

Poison Apple Martini

2 oz. apple juiceIMG_4254

1 oz. pomegranite juice

2 oz. tequlia

1 tsp. honey

Fill martini shaker with ice. Mix ingredients together in shaker. Shake well, pour into chilled martini glass and enjoy!

What’s your favorite Halloween drink?

 

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

IMG_2805Yesterday many of us celebrated Pancake Tuesday. A tradition that began in the Middle Ages this day has grown and enjoyed by people around the world.

Enjoying pancakes for supper is one of my favorite things (in fact I love anything breakfast for supper, there are so many fabulous breakfast foods out there) but on Pancake Tuesday I like to spice it up a little and make a recipe that is more than just your regular plain pancake – though those are just as delicious!

There are so many kinds of pancakes to choose from. Some of our favorites are pumpkin and oatmeal banana. There are gluten free options, dairy free, coconut and fruit options. You name it, you can basically find it and make it.

Yesterday I decided to try out an apple cinnamon pancake recipe (at the suggestion of my mother who was here on the weekend). I didn’t have one so I quickly googled it and found a number of apple cinnamon recipes to choose from. My favorite was on dairygoodness.ca, where they suggested using maple syrup as the sweetener as well as a mix of flours.

Of course I had to make a couple of other quick substitutions to make it dairy free (as that is part of our diet as well) and went to work mixing up the dough. The most time consuming part was shredding the apples but otherwise is a quick and easy recipe to make.

It was a huge hit! Everyone loved them. They had just the right amount of apple, not overwhelming and with a little bit of syrup…Yum! They were fabulous. My modified dairy and sugar free version is below.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

1 1/2 c. all purpose flourIMG_2808

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3 eggs

2 1/2 c. almond milk

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 1/2 c. shredded apple

In a large bowl mix flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, almond milk, melted Earth Balance and maple syrup. Pour over dry ingredients and add apples. Stir gently until just combined – a few lumps may remain.

In a large non stick skillet, heat a small amount of butter. Scoop about 1/3 c. of batter per pancake into skillet. Cook approximately 2 minutes or until bubbles form in batter. Turn over and cook 1 to 2 minutes more until golden and fluffy. Repeat with remaining pancake batter.

 

Pancakes for Supper

Pancakes 1I love that one night a year I can make pancakes for dinner! Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins in the Christian faith.

Beginning in the middle ages, it was the last day for celebration and feasting before the period of fasting required during the lenten season. Food items like meat, milk, eggs and fats were restricted during this time; so to keep these foods from being wasted people would have big feasts on Shrove Tuesday in order to consume these items and prevent them from being wasted (as they would not keep over the next 40 days).

mardi-gras-2The English were the first to make pancakes on this Tuesday as it was an easy way to use these ingredients before Ash Wednesday began. In France, consumption of these fats or fatty foods on this day coined the phrase “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.

I always find these things fascinating and share them with my kids. My oldest often asks why we have Pancake Tuesday and though I know the traditional reason I had no idea of it’s origin.

And though we may not always observe all the traditions of the Christian faith we certainly enjoy and don’t mind observing this one! Usually I make the traditional plain pancakes and add some fruit on top, but with all our dietary changes and my hunt for new recipes, I have added to my repertoire of ‘kinds’ of pancakes.

So today if you are on the hunt for a little variety in your pancakes, give one of these recipes a try (and if you are not making pancakes for dinner then try them some other time, they are all delicious!) You’ll love ‘em and so will your kids. They are all sugar and dairy free and the last one is gluten free as well.

Pumpkin Pancakes from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

1 1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1/4 c. date sugar

pic3R054P

Pumpkin Pancakes

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

4 eggs, separated

3/4 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

1 1/2 c. rice milk (I use a brand called Ryza as it has the least amount of additives and no sugar or you can make your own) or almond milk

4 tbsp. Earth Balance, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Maple syrup for serving

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, rice milk, Earth Balance and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth and no lumps of flour remain. Fold in egg whites in 2 additions.

Heat griddle over medium heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Lightly grease the griddle.

Pour 1/4 c. pancake batter onto griddle. Cook until bubbles form on top and the batter is set, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Keep warm until all pancakes are cooked.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes from purecanadamaple.com

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups rice milk or almond milk

2/3 cup old fashioned oats, not instant

2 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork to a fine pulp

2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

2 teaspoons canola oil or non-stick pan spray

Gobs of crunchy or creamy peanut butter

Pure maple syrup

In a mixing bowl, combine both flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a non-reactive mixing bowl, combine milk, oats and bananas. Fold in dry ingredients. Fold in egg whites and mix until just combined.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch non-stick skilled over medium high heat. Drop batter by the scant ¼ cup full into pan and cook, turning once until lightly browned. Hold pancakes warm on a platter until you’ve got them all cooked.

Spread a teaspoon or so of peanut butter on each pancake and then the Pièce de résistance of course…a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

Makes 15 pancakes.

Pancakes

This recipe is sugar free, dairy free, gluten free and is yummy! Courtesy of Ryza rice milk.

1 egg

1 cup Original or Vanilla Ryza

2 tbsp oil

1 3/4 cups brown rice flour

3 tbsp tapioca starch

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat egg until frothy. Add Ryza and oil; beat until well blended. In another bowl mix brown rice flour and the remaining dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Stir until well blended. Do not over stir. Batter will be slightly thin. Lightly grease a frying pan. Pour small circles and fry pancakes until golden. Serve with pure maple syrup.

You can also try apple cinnamon pancakes or if you prefer a simple plain pancake try this recipe.

What are your favorite pancake recipes? Share in the comments below.

All Things Pumpkin

IMG_2217In the month of October there seems to be a lot of pumpkin about. From Thanksgiving feasts that include delicious pies and cheesecakes to Fall festivals and trips to the pumpkin patch, even right up until Halloween when we are carving pumpkins for the kids and all our trick or treaters.

I love pumpkins. I not only love the taste, but I love the bright orange color they are, the unique shapes and sizes and all the different things that you can do with pumpkin, from eating and recipes to decorating and crafts.

I do have to say that I tend to lean towards the pumpkin food items the most, as I really do enjoy those. And lately I have been finding all kinds of pumpkin delights that I have tried or am about to try such as pumpkin pancakes, muffins, latte, fudge, cheesecake, ice cream and of course pie. I even discovered a recipe for a Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, which though I have to make a few dietary adjustments I can’t wait to get it into my oven and more importantly in my tummy!IMG_2173

The pumpkin pancakes I discovered a few years ago when I bought Halloween pancake molds that came with the recipe (those are so fun!). The pumpkin spice latte is a slow cooker recipe I discovered last year and made for the first time last week for my open house. The fudge I have yet to try but believe me I am all over this and it won’t be long! And I have always loved pumpkin muffins, though I have been dappling in some new recipes. I always enjoy variation and who knows you might be missing out on something even better if you don’t at least try it!

I am not sure what it is I love about pumpkin dishes so much, but I am sure that it also has to do with the allure and smell of all those delicious spices that go in it; like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mmmm… just the thought of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

pumpkin-spice-latte-white-chocolateMy greatest (and most fun) pumpkin discovery this Fall was actually not a food item. Which is ok, I was just super surprised at whoever came up with this as it is so simple, yet so ingenious. It is Pumpkin Play Doh! I thought this was fabulous! My kids loves playdoh and what a fun way to tie in a theme, those spices we love and play and create at the same time.

I found the recipe on another blog While He Was Napping. She makes her playdoh on the stove top which I am sure works well, but I have my own playdoh recipe I decided to use and adjust instead (as it is just a mix everything together, I like to avoid extra pots and pans). All I needed to do was add my pumpkin pie spice and color it orange. Presto! Pumpkin Playdoh.

IMG_2305The twins loved it! Thought it was the most fabulous thing ever, yeah it was playdoh but it was new and it was pumpkin! Even Matthew and his friend smelled it and said it smelled really good. Plus I played it up a little, got out the Halloween cookie cutters for them to use and sat down and played with them for a while. Chloe loved making pumpkin hair for the Fuzzy Cuts Barber Shop we have. Luke just rolled it and created as he usually does. Fun was had by all.

I’m wondering now what other ‘flavours’ of playdoh I can make, perhaps mint or chocolate. It could be done, I’ll have to experiment… In the meantime enjoy the pumpkin…

Pumpkin Playdoh

Mix together in a medium bowl:

2 c. flour

4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. salt

2-3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (amount depends on how strong you would like the scent)

Add in:

1 1/2 c. boiling water

2 tbsp. oil

Mix together. Knead well. Add in orange food coloring. Knead again until well mixed. Store in ziploc bags.

*For ordinary playdoh simply omit the pumpkin pie spice and add whatever color of food coloring you want. Batch is fairly large – so can easily be divided to make a few different colors.

 

A Halloween Breakfast -Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkin pancakes

Last year I made Pumpkin pancakes Halloween morning for the kids.  I found these mini Halloween pancake molds at Williams Sonoma -in the shape of a cat, pumpkin, bat and ghost. It came with the pancake recipe so I thought I would try it out. It was so fun! It was a great way to start the day and to make it fun especially when meeting our no sugar requirement.

I am planning to make them again this year, except I will make them the night before and reheat them in the morning. Because Halloween falls on a school day, I would have to get up quite early to make them fresh and I am having a hard enough time getting up on school days as it is 🙂 It’s way too early for me.

Tips for Using Molds for Pumpkin Pancakes

When using the molds there are a few tips and tricks that I would recommend in order to make your pancake making experience successful.

First, is to buy a pancake pen. They are also available at Williams Sonoma and it is well worth the money spent. You fill the pen with batter on one end and then you squeeze it out of the tip on the other when you are ready. It has a cover on the “pen” end so you can stand it up with the batter at the end and ready to go. This is way easier and faster than spooning it into the molds.

Second, make sure that your griddle or pan is hot before you start and that you grease the pancake molds with a little bit of oil. They are non stick molds but you still need that extra grease to keep the batter from sticking, especially in the corners. And even with that I found that I had to gently push around the edges with a butter knife to get them to come out. And grease them EVERY time you put in a new batch of batter.

Third, don’t overfill the molds. If you use the recipe below they will puff up so only fill them about halfway. If you overfill them they will be hard to get out regardless if you grease them.

pumpkin pancakes

Fourthly, they do have little handles on them to help you take them out, but they become hot as they are metal like the rest of the mold – make sure you use a pot holder or oven mitt to handle them.

Interestingly last year I discovered I had no pot holders as I never found them to be useful and were just taking up space, so I gave them all away. Now I have found a reason to have at least one around, as using an oven mitt is too bulky and awkward to handle the molds. Fortunately I found a Halloween pumpkin pot holder on sale after Halloween last year, so I’ll put it to perfect use.

My last tip is be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to make them; hence doing them the night before. I have to admit they are a bit finicky to make but once you get the first few under your belt you get the hang of it and it becomes easier. By the time I was done my batch I could get the pumpkin and the ghost shapes out without having to use my butterknife around the edges.

And oh they are delicious! The kids loved them. They found the shapes super fun and now ask for them each year.

So try something unique this Halloween for breakfast; even if you don’t have the molds the kids will still gobble them up. You could Hallloween -ish by simply make faces on them using pieces of fruit like sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, apples, etc.

I adjusted the original recipe to sugar and dairy free to meet our needs and is the recipe posted here.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1/4 c. date sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

4 eggs, separated

3/4 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

1 1/2 c. rice milk (we use Ryza as it has no added sugars) or almond milk

4 tbsp. melted Earth Balance

1 tsp. vanilla extract

100% pure maple syrup (for serving)

In a large bowl whisk together flour, date sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, rice milk, Earth Balance and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth and no lumps of flour remain. Fold in egg whites in 2 additions.

Heat griddle over medium heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Lightly grease the griddle and the inside surface of the mini pancake molds. Set the molds with handles up on the griddle and heat until hot.

Pour 1/4 c. pancake batter into each mold. If necessary use a butter knife of small spatula to spread the batter into the corners of the molds. Cook until bubbles form on top and the batter is set, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove molds, and flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Keep warm until all pancakes are cooked. Makes between 24-32 pancakes.

Enjoy! And Happy Halloweening!