Halloween isn't just for kids and it doesn't have to be all about candy. If you're throwing a Halloween dinner, you've got the perfect opportunity to show off your cooking, hosting and creativity. Don't worry about making your dinner creepy or spooky; instead, focus on delicious holiday-themed foods that satisfy both adults and children.
Start the Evening Off Right
Your guests' first impression of the dinner will be appetizers, so make them count. Surround a large bowl of black bean dip with warm orange tortilla chips for dipping. Mix brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and pecans, then toast the pecans for a sweet predinner treat. Or, mix red pepper bits with shredded crab meat to create "brain dip." Add mini breadsticks ("bones") for dipping in creamy ranch dressing. To get guests into the Halloween spirit, use cookie cutters to turn homemade French fries into bat-shaped goodies. Don't forget tasty favorites like cheese straws, mini pizzas and even popcorn.
Autumn is the time for hearty main dishes, so don't be afraid to serve up meaty entrees. Go with a big chicken and harvest vegetable stew for easy serving or grilled turkey burgers for eat-with-your-hands goodness. Or try a big pot of spicy chili; garnish with cheese and set out fiesta ranch dressing for a filling delight. If you need a main course for children, try spider sandwiches or scary stuffed heads. To make spider sandwiches, spread tuna salad between two halves of a pumpernickel roll and stick eight pretzel sticks in the middle for legs. Squeeze yellow mustard on the top of the bun for eyes. For stuffed heads, simply stuff ground beef into a hollowed green or red pepper. Use asparagus for "antennae" and make holes in the front for "eyes" and "mouth." Stick green or black olives in the holes for eyes and a sliced red pepper in the mouth slit for a tongue.
Harvest vegetables make excellent side items during autumn. Try baked acorn squash, homemade mashed potatoes (use food coloring to make them interesting for kids) or roasted red peppers covered with melted cheese and bacon bits. If you want a lighter option, go with a holiday salad: arugula, grated Parmesan cheese, pear slices and creamy Parmesan dressing are all you need. For a real Halloween treat, bread pumpkin meat with salt, pepper, bread crumbs and egg, then bake it until it's golden brown.
It wouldn't be a Halloween dinner without pumpkin pie, but you have other fabulous options. Spread chocolate icing between two sugar cookies to make a burgerlike chocolate slider or make red velvet ("blood") cupcakes with black frosting. Try brown sugar and cinnamon waffles; cut them into the shape of a bat or pumpkin and provide fruit topping, whipped cream and apple butter. Or, make a strawberry jam tart. Bake flattened pizza dough, then spread strawberry jam and cream cheese on top.