HOW about a Halloween cocktail party for your grown-up friends?
If you're hosting a party for kids, invite their parents to come at the same time for appetizers and drinks (virgin cocktails only please for designated drivers and those who will be escorting the young trick-or-treaters). You can find lots of punch and cocktail ideas online, and here are some great appetizers to serve with the witches' brew. Happy Halloween everyone; eat, drink and be scary.
SPICY PUMPKIN HUMMUS WITH CREEPY CRISPS
1 540-ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup each freshly squeezed lemon juice and water
3 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
½ cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne (or more or less to taste)
1 ?3 cup olive oil Freshly ground black pepper
Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, water and tahini in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the pumpkin, cumin, salt and cayenne and process until seasonings are mixed in. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube until well blended. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or cayenne if desired, and season with black pepper to taste. Makes 2½ cups.
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne
3 large flour tortillas, preferably cheese or other orange-coloured variety
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together cheese, chili powder and cayenne. Lay tortillas on a flat surface and cut out shapes with Halloween-themed cookie cutters (bats are good). Place cut-outs on ungreased cookie sheets; brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cheese mixture. Bake until crisp, five to eight minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
(Sliced water chestnuts provide the ghoulish crunch)
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp soy sauce
½ cup chopped green onions (green part only)
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
1½ tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, finely minced ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1½ lbs lean, ground turkey
2 Tbsp canola oil
Bottled sweet-and-sour sauce or plum sauce for dipping
Cut water chestnut slices in half and set aside. In a large bowl combine the next nine ingredients (egg through pepper). Crumble the ground turkey over the mixture and combine gently but thoroughly with your hands. Form mixture into one-inch balls, enclosing a halved water chestnut slice within each ball (you will have water chestnuts left over).
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the meatballs in batches until browned. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
Drain meatballs on paper towels and serve with sweet and sour or plum sauce for dipping. Makes about 60 meatballs.
SAVOURY CARAMEL CORN
Fill small Halloween-themed cellophane bags (available at craft stores) with this tasty treat, or just serve it in a large bowl.
6 cups popped popcorn
1½ cups chopped mixed untoasted nuts (such as pecan halves, almonds, hazelnuts) ½ cup pumpkin seed kernels
2 ?3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ cup dark rum
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more or less to taste)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or butter lightly.
Combine the popcorn, nuts and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and set aside. Combine sugar, corn syrup, rum and butter in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high and boil rapidly without stirring for five minutes; remove from heat. Stir in salt, baking soda and cayenne.
Quickly pour over the popcorn mixture and with two large spoons toss to coat evenly. Spread onto the baking sheet as evenly as possible; bake, stirring twice, for about 15 minutes or until mixture is glazed and nuts are toasted.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then break into chunks. Store in an airtight container or portion into decorative bags, tied tightly with a ribbon. Makes eight cups.
Angela Shellard is a self-professed foodie. She has done informal catering for sports and business functions and enjoys entertaining family and friends at home. Contact Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org.