Halloween was one of the most fun holidays I remember as a kid. I grew up the 1950s when kids went trick-or-treating with their siblings dressed in homemade costumes using pillowcases or paper bags to carry the candy we received.
I loved Halloween, not just because of the candy, but because it let me reinvent myself. I showed up as a princess or something along those lines and my brother always ended up as a cowboy with his guns and little hat. He was so cute with his belly hanging out.
I love this time of year because it brings us into the season of real comfort foods, such as meatloaf, chili, soups and pumpkin pie. We get to see the season change from summer to fall, with the crisp wind and the turning leaves.
When I was young we at cotton candy and candied apples at local Fall fairs. Now the traditional fair food leans to the weird: fried butter, fried cupcakes or a hamburger placed between glazed donuts.
I remember one Halloween when my male cousins, who were about 13 or 14, dressed up in drag. Watching them transform was the most fun. They had no intention of going door-to-door for their loot. Instead, they hid and when kids came from the houses they would jump out and scare them until they dropped their candy bags and ran. They got a lot of loot that way, but it was shameful.
What Halloween memories do you have?
My friend Carolyn remembers one year when it was raining really hard and her kids, who were all dressed in their Halloween costumes, were so sad because they couldn’t go trick-or-treating. So the next day, her daughter decided that she and her brothers were going out for trick-or-treating. They got lots of candy.
The boys ate all their candy, but her daughter decided to keep her candy and use it to bribe the boys. Her candy lasted till after Christmas.
My friend Patricia Crayton, from Atlanta, says one of her favorite memories of Halloween is when she was a little girl in Cleveland the 1950s. Her mother would set up a table and served hot apple cider to the trick-or-treaters. Her mother would make candy apples and popcorn balls. This is her recipe that she still uses today.
My friend Dan Aldridge with atlfoodSnob.com, said one year he and his friends went trick-or-treating and came to house where the man said he didn’t have candy. Instead he offered the boys a six-pack of beer. Aldridge’s favorite food for Halloween is candy corn.
Now the best thing I enjoy about Halloween is when the kids show up at my door with their cute costumes and smiling faces. I love them all.
This Halloween, I have recipes for Witch Finger Cookies, Hand Meatloaf and some Pop Corn Balls.
Please try the recipes and let me know how you liked them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to go view my e-cookbook on itunes called “MadJon Holiday” for your ipads. Also I want to say thanks for watching “Cooking with MadJon and Friends” on ASTV 95.
Witch Finger Cookies
These scary treats are fun to make, taste great and will be the hit of any Halloween Party.
(Submitted by Jennifer Miller and adapted from a recipe on AllRecipes.com)
1 cup butter softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Cup whole almonds
Green food coloring
Red decorating gel
Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, vanilla extract and 3 or so drops of green food coloring in a mixing bowl. (A little food coloring goes a long way.) Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder and salt, continually beating; refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.
Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper or clean hands to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. The dough will double in size so keep your fingers small.
Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. You can also cut into the dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the gel to ooze out around the tip of the cookie. While still hot, press a small chocolate chip into the finger to make a “wart.” Squeeze red gel on base of cookie to look like blood.
Pop Corn Balls
Air-popped popcorn, set aside
1 cup corn syrup
2 cups sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Orange food coloring
Bring sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, food coloring to a boil and its ready when you drop it into cool water and it foams a soft ball- about 8 minutes. Butter surface, hands and spoon. Mix syrup with the pop corn until well coated. Then form into balls and let cool.
1 pound ground beef
1 cup crackers
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
2 tsp. garlic and onion powders
½ fresh onion diced
¼ cup Heinz 57 sauce
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp. yellow mustard
½ onion for palm of hand
1 red bell Pepper for fingernails
Extra ketchup for blood.
Mix all ingredients and place on a flat sheet. Place the onion on the end for the hand bone and shape the meat into a hand and add your fingernails and ketchup for decorating. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Cook uncovered.