Tag Archives: halloween

Halloween Recipe Roundup

While Halloween seems to be a holiday revolving around candy, you can easily mix some healthier foods into your traditions as well. If you are looking for some meal ideas for this weekend, here are some fun and sometimes spooky ideas:

Zucchini Soup is a great choice. Call it snot soup, witches brew, or Hulk soup for something more festive.

Dinner in a pumpkin is always a hit.

I know chili is a Halloween stand-by for many. Sweet potato chili in the crockpot
or regular chili on the stove-top are great options.

Curried Squash Soup
I feel like anything orange is a Halloween, so I’m nominating Curried Squash Soup for your menu.

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara
And for the non-soup crowd, spaghetti squash with marinara served in the peel like this looks a lot like brains. Gross, but fun.

Pretzel rolls become spooky if you “carve” fun designs in the top rather than just slashes.

Breadsticks are an easy side dish that can be shaped to look like bones, and these breadsticks are super fast.

Since Halloween is on a Saturday, you might even have time for a fun breakfast. Or I always love breakfast for dinner.

Southwest Eggs Benedict
Southwest Eggs Benedict look like big eye balls with green monster goo on top.

Pumpkin ANYTHING screams Halloween, so try either French toast
Pumpkin French Toast

or pancakes.
Pumpkin Pancakes

Happy haunting and eating everyone!

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Pumpkin Pancakes

This blog has turned orange lately.  Most of my recent recipe posts have somehow involved sweet potato and pumpkin.  While it seems repetitive, there are so many delicious uses for these seasonal veggies that are extra delicious and extra affordable right now.  Why not eat up?

I first tried these pumpkin pancakes out on my niece and nephews.  I was babysitting them for several days in a row.  One night a few days in, we were ALL missing their mom and dad.  These pancakes for dinner helped us all find a happier place.  And then I proceeded to make them over and over for my own family when I got home.  They are very simple and definitely take pancakes up several notches.  Drop by my house on Thanksgiving morning, and you’ll find these on the breakfast table.


Pumpkin Pancakes (Makes about 14 pancakes)


1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups skim milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine pumpkin, milk, oil, egg, and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

3. Spoon/pour about ¼ cup at a time on a lightly greased griddle over medium heat. Cook until golden brown on each side. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Pancake):

Calories: 94
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: less than .5 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 69 mg

Recipe Notes: I encourage you to actually mix wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls and then combine. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I generally measure the dry ingredients straight into the wet. I hate the thought of pancakes taking more than one bowl. And they turn out just fine. BUT, I do think I then have to mix the batter a little bit more. Just keeping it real. This is a bit wetter than regular pancake batter, so they take a little longer to cook. The end result is more moist than traditional pancakes, and it may seem like you undercooked them. I would estimate you cook the first side about twice as long as a regular pancake before flipping.

Also, if you hate only using part of a can of pumpkin, you do 1.5 times everything using a whole can of pumpkin, which leads to some odd amounts. Here is what I did:

1 can pumpkin
1 ⅞ cups skim milk (go about halfway between the 1 ¾ and 2 cup marks on the measuring cup)
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs
¼ cup brown sugar (slightly heaping)
1 ⅞ cups white whole wheat flour (measure out 2 cups and then take out 2 tablespoons)
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Source: slightly adapted from online


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Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints (Gingersnaps)

I’ve said before I’m not a big fan of making a dessert more healthy, since you usually lose in the taste category. Not so with these cookies. They taste delicious, are easy to make, and feel like everything you love about fall. Add the candy on top, and you’ve knocked one out of the park.

I will warn you that the cookies have a strong molasses flavor and are not overly sweet. I like them that way. Even my 18 month old liked them. I think you should try them before immediately increasing the sugar. These cookies are great without the candy, but the toppings make them even more fun for the fall holidays.


Gingersnaps or Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints (Makes about 2 dozen cookies)


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Granulated sugar for rolling
Pumpkin spice Hershey kisses, optional
Fall mix candy, optional

1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Blend in egg and molasses. Add remaining ingredients, and mix until combined.

2. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. If decorating with candy, place candy in freezer.

3. Roll dough into balls about the size of walnuts. Lightly roll in granulated sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 ½” apart.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies have melted and puffed. For crisp cookies, bake until flattened.

5. If decorating, lightly push candy into center of cookie immediately after it comes out of the oven. Let cool until candy is solid.

Nutritional Information (Amount per cookie, plain):

Calories: 110
Protein: 1.5 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: .8 g
Sodium: 82 mg

Recipe Notes: If you are decorating with the candy, you want a soft cookie, so bake closer to the 8 minutes. You want the cookie to stay together coming off the cookie sheet, but not much crisper. It is important to freeze the candies, so they don’t melt on the hot cookie. Don’t push too hard, or the cookie might break or have a lumpy bottom. The cookies will need to set up for a couple hours to let the candy re-harden. If not decorating, I usually bake mine a little closer to 10 minutes.

Source: adapted from my sister-in-law’s recipe

Low-iodine adjustment: Use shortening in place of butter. Use 2 egg whites in place of whole egg. Don’t use blackstrap molasses. Use non iodized salt.

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Pretzel Rolls (plus a Halloween twist)

When I was a teenager, I liked to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. One day, I decided I wanted pretzels, so I made some. While a bit of work, they were very tasty. My mom also loved pretzels, so she would have me make them for her occasionally.

These rolls are all the deliciousness of a pretzel with slightly less work. No forming ropes and twisting and shaping. Somehow a roll shape also makes this pretzel feel more like it is dinner worthy and not so much a snack.

The Halloween twist is super easy and takes an already special roll up another notch. In all pretzel rolls, you cut slashes for them to expand. To make them festive, cut jack-o-latern faces or spiders or whatever your heart desires. It makes rolls more fun for the kids on a special night.


Pretzel Rolls (Makes 16 rolls)


1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups warm skim milk (about 110 degrees)
1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour
3-5 cups all-purpose flour

Water bath:
3 quarts water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup baking soda

1. In a large bowl, stir together yeast, oil, milk, and water. Add salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix. Gradually add the remaining flour while mixing until dough clears the sides of the bowl and is stiff but still soft. Knead for 4-5 minutes.

2. Let dough rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered, until double in size (about 1 hour).

3. Portion dough into 16 equal pieces, rolling each into a round ball. Lay out on lightly greased parchment or a floured counter. Let dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

4. Bring water bath ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Taking one roll at a time, pinch the bottom of the roll to form a pucker and place into boiling water bath. Boil 3-4 rolls at a time. Boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Remove from boiling water, letting the excess water drip back into the pan. Place rolls onto baking sheets lined with lightly greased parchment paper.

5. Preheat oven to 425.

6. Use a sharp knife to cut slits (or a holiday design) in the top of each roll about ¼ inch deep.

7. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Nutritional Information (Amount per roll):

Calories: 218
Protein: 7 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 42 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 306 mg

Recipe notes: I boiled these rolls for at least 1 minute per side. I find you have to boil for a while to get a dark, chewy outside. Don’t be afraid to cut a little deep in step 6. I didn’t go quite deep enough, which is why my design is kind of faint. But be gentle so you don’t deflate the dough. I omitted sprinkling the rolls with salt. I don’t care for it, and it makes the sodium ridiculous. The nutrients on this seem high, I know. They are a large, fairly dense roll. One per person is plenty. Trust me.

Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


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Pumpkin Dinner

If you are planning a Halloween dinner or just want to impress your family, look no further.

During my freshman year of college, my roommates and I needed to make dinner for a big group date we were planning.  One of my roommates raved about this pumpkin dinner her family would make.  It was early November, so pumpkin food sounded seasonal and fun.  I enjoyed the meal well enough, but other than the visual “wow” factor, I wasn’t impressed with the food itself.

Despite the lack of flavor appeal, that meal stuck with me.  I’ve made it around Halloween a few times.  Each time, I’ve tried to improve the ingredients so the taste matches the visual impression.  I think this recipe gets it right.


Pumpkin Dinner (Serves 8-10)


1 small(ish) pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 pound lean ground turkey (85/15 or better)
⅓ cup unpacked brown sugar
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1 cup low sodium beef broth
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cans sliced water chestnuts, drained well
2 cups cooked brown rice

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Remove 1 rack from oven and move remaining rack to lowest setting.

2. Cut large opening in top of pumpkin, retaining “lid”. Clean out seeds and strings. Place cleaned pumpkin on large baking sheet.

3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot, add onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms are slightly browned and tender. Add in turkey. Cook until browned.

4. Stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, soup, broth, pepper, sage, cranberries, and zucchini. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in water chestnuts and rice.

5. Spoon mixture into cleaned pumpkin. Bake for at least 1 hour, until pumpkin is tender and interior scoops out easily with a spoon. As serving, make sure to scoop sides of pumpkin with filling.

Nutritional Information: (Amount per Serving)

Calories: 292
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 39 mg
Carbohydrates: 41 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 571 mg

Recipe Notes: Make sure to get a pumpkin that will fit inside your oven. This can be harder than you initially think, since most smaller pumpkins are tall. Err on the side of a short fat pumpkin. If you don’t want to mess with a pumpkin, this would be yummy filling for putting in halved acorn squash, although I would leave out the broth. Bake for about an hour as well, but cover for the first 45 minutes with foil. I have used about a cup of frozen peas instead of zucchini. Either is yummy. The pumpkin may sag a bit while baking, and the lid may fall in. That’s ok, but it is done if that is happening.

Recipe source: Adapted from my friend’s family recipe


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