by Tara Davis

Today I have some fun Halloween recipes for your parties and family festivities. 

That means, of course, I must briefly cover a couple of still somewhat controversial subjects.  (Would you expect any less?)

 First, Halloween.  I’m not here to spark any philosophical debates, but the very basic history stems from the Celtic festival of Samhain, which ushered in their November 1st new year, celebrating the end of summer and harvest, and marking the beginning of winter.  Colder weather often brought disease and death, which led the Celts to believe October 31st allowed a window during which spirits could cross into the world of the living and cause trouble – including damage to crops.   

Their festivities, such as bonfires and donning costumes, were an attempt to prevent this from happening. By the 40s AD, the Romans had conquered the Celts, and some of their festivals and practices combined. At this point, New Year’s Day was observed in honor of the passing of the dead, and the second day of the year honored Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. From this we developed the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.

 How, then, did we begin the practice of “party food?” During Prohibition, underground bars and unofficial booze dealing establishments realized in order to prevent their patrons from leaving obviously inebriated, therefore blowing their covers, they needed to add food to the experience.  They developed all sorts of small portioned, one handed refreshments, allowing their clientele to keep a drink in the other hand.  

For those unwilling to brave the less than legal in a public way, private parties at home became all the rage.  And voila! Party foods became an American way of life.

These days we playfully combine the two.  Whether for a Spooktacular time, or for a family night any time of year, I give you some fun for all ages dishes to give a whirl this, and some tips to make them theme appropriate this and every Halloween:

 Pumpkin Deviled Eggs – Boil 12 eggs for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool in ice water completely. Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and carefully remove the yolks.  Mix yolks with ½ – 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp salt, and 4-6 drops orange food coloring.  Spoon or pipe filling into egg white halves. Garnish with paprika and chives (for pumpkin stems).

 Mummy Pizza – Cut French bread, baguettes or hoagie rolls into lengthwise halves, then into 4-6 inch long pieces.  Top with marinara or pizza sauce of choice (white sauce also works). Top with mozzarella and parmesan. Use a vegetable peeler to cut thin ribbons from fresh zucchini, avoiding the green peel. Season lightly with salt and oil. Place ribbons over cheese to look like a mummy’s wrap.  Place 2 olive slices toward the top to look like eyes.  Bake at 400 degrees 5-10 minutes, until cheese melts.

 Vampire Punch – In a 6-7 quart crock pot, mix 64 ounces original red Hawaiian Fruit Punch, 2 liters ginger ale and 3 ounces Red Hot candies.  Cook on low heat for 2 hours.  Optionals – For adults, add rum to taste.  For everyone, add a small amount of dry ice to the top of individual servings for a smoke effect!