Celebrate Halloween with fun fall recipes

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Frankenfoods fill the tables at most Halloween parties.

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Witches Fingers made with soft pretzels and beet-dyed almonds created as a seasonal treat by Cindy Gingrey at Magnolia Cafe in downtown Aiken.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Witches Fingers made with soft pretzels and beet-dyed almonds created as a seasonal treat by Cindy Gingrey at Magnolia Cafe in downtown Aiken.

On the kid’s table, peeled grapes and cold spaghetti stand in for “eyeballs” and “brains.” Hot dogs make festive “witch’s fingers.” Licorice turns to “spider legs.”

They might be creepy, but does the usual fare taste any good?

We asked local caterers, chefs and party planners for a new variety of spooky treats. They offer Halloween-friendly fare they would serve at their own parties this fall.

PUMPKIN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES WITH BANANA NUTELLA SAUCE

From Charleen Tinley of Culinary Connections in Augusta

Pumpkin Cookies, recipe below
½ gallon vanilla ice cream
Banana Nutella Sauce, recipe below

To assemble: Use a serrated knife to carefully slice the large cookie in half horizontally and place the bottom half on a plate. Place a scoop of ice cream over the bottom layer and spread evenly. Cover with the other cookie half. Repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream. Drizzle with warm banana Nutella sauce.

Note: Sandwiches can be made, placed in a pan, covered and put in the freezer until serving time. Simply remove from the freezer, put on plates, drizzle with warm sauce and serve.

PUMPKIN COOKIES

1½ cups brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon ginger
1¾ cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2¾ cup self-rising flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir sugar, butter, eggs and pumpkin together until thoroughly blended. Sift flour and spices together and add to the pumpkin mixture. Mix well and add the nuts.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 28 large, thick cookies.

BANANA NUTELLA SAUCE

1 stick butter
½ cup brown sugar
3 to 4 small bananas peeled, cut lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices
¼ cup water or for an adult dessert, ¼ cup rum
Nutella

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add brown sugar and stir. Add the bananas and cook over medium-high heat until caramelized. Add the water or rum and stir until well blended and sauce is smooth.

Add a spoonful of Nutella to the banana mixture and stir until melted and smooth. Serve warm.

VEGGIE SKELETON

From Karen Tempel, Everyday Gourmet Chef Service in Aiken

Assorted fresh vegetables such as small sweet potato, baby carrots, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, cauliflower florets, celery, parsley, jalapeño pepper

Your favorite vegetable dip (the recipe for Tempel’s follows)

Cut bell peppers into long, thin slices. Cut sweet potato into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut celery into sticks. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Cut jalapeno into thin slices.

To assemble skeleton, arrange in a large bowl or platter parsley for hair, jalapeno slices for eyes, small piece of carrot for nose and bell pepper slice for mouth.

Layer sweet potato slices for backbone and add bell pepper slices for ribs. Use carrot and celery sticks for arms and add cauliflower florets for hands and joints.

Place all remaining veggie slices in another bowl and serve with skeleton.

GARDEN VEGETABLE DIP

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon dill weed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
1 small carrot, grated
1 to 2 tablespoons milk (as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill and garlic; mix well. Add diced vegetables to cream cheese mixture; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to dip to adjust consistency

PUFF PASTRY JACK O’ LANTERNS

From Kathleen Fervan, head of Augusta Tech Culinary Arts

puff pastry, from the grocery store or homemade
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chops
12 ounces heavy cream
1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
¼ cup milk
1 egg

Make a chocolate and peanut butter ganache: Bring the cream to a boil, add the chocolate chips, and stir until they melt. Cool and add peanut butter.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the pastry dough, cut with a round cutter and place spoonfuls of the ganache/peanut butter mixture on half the circles. Top with another round of puff pastry. Combine the milk and egg into an egg wash to seal the sides of the pastry closed.

Cut triangles into the top of the dough to make a pumpkin’s eyes, nose and mouth. Brush with the egg wash, and bake until golden brown.

HAYSTACKS

From Jane Hall Harmon, The Baton Rouge Chef in Evans

12 ounces butterscotch chips
5 ounces chow mein noodles
1 cup peanuts

In a heavy sauce pan slowly melt chips on low, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Add the peanuts and chow mein noodles and mix well. Place tablespoonfuls on parchment paper or foil. Allow to set well before sealing tight in a cookie tin. Do not refrigerate.

ORGANIC MAPLE PUMPKIN PIE

From Cindy Gingrey of Magnolia Natural Market & Cafe in Aiken

1 small sugar pumpkin (organic is best, sweeter)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1½ tablespoons pumpkin spice mix
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1¼ cups half and half
3 eggs
pecan halves (optional)
graham cracker pie crust (store bought or the recipe below)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place face down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 45-60 minutes until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.

Scrape pumpkin into a food processor. Puree until smooth (you will need about 2 cups). Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Blend until smooth. Add maple syrup and half & half. Pulse until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, pulsing until smooth. Pour into pie shell.

Toast pecan halves separately and place them around the edge just when the pie comes out of the oven.

Bake for 1 hour or until the center is set.

MAGNOLIA’S GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

1 ½ packages graham crackers (most boxes come with 3 packages inside)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick real butter cut into tablespoons
¼ cup pecans

Blend graham crackers and brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until crumbs. Add butter one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until just incorporated. Add pecans and pulse just until they are chopped.


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