Cooks Exchange

Enjoy making easy Halloween, fall festival treats

Several neighborhoods in the Orange Grove area of Gulfport have an e-mail/app group that keeps residents apprised of what is going on in the area, what contractors are dependable, where garage sales are and, now, who is giving out treats for Halloween night.

These e-mails are a way of keeping neighbors in touch and reaching out to serve the community. Good job to those who created these.

However, the Halloween one made me a little sad. Only a few people said they were giving out treats and listed their addresses. Yes, most schools, public or private, and churches have some type of Halloween or fall festival event where the kids can be safe, dress up, play games and get candy.

Some 20 years ago, Windward Drive in the Windsong Subdivision in Gulfport had a block party. Neighbors sat in their decorated yards with kettles of candy and porch lights shining brightly. It was fun and a great way to get to know the neighbors. Of course, parents knew the neighbors because the kids all played together after school, riding bikes and skateboards or playing tag.

Some even fired up the grill and shared with their fellow neighbors. It was a community. It was fun, and more importantly, it was safe.

The kids enjoyed it, and so did the parents. My daughter was one of them, and my late husband and I were two of the parents joining in with food and candy. Our daughter missed these block parties when we moved to another Coast town, and most of the new neighbors were behind locked doors with porch lights off.

Make no mistake, my granddaughter loves being with her school friends at Bible Baptist’s fall festival. We try to make it a big party by inviting friends and their children or grandchildren. The kids don’t miss what they never had, but there was something more personal about those block parties.

Since stores already are putting out Christmas decorations and gifts, I thought I would share some easy treats that families can enjoy together or share with a neighbor or friend.

CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER COATED APPLES

10-12 wooden ice cream sticks

10-12 medium apples, stems removed

1 2/3 cup (20-ounce package) peanut butter chips (I use Reese’s)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup cocoa (I use Hershey’s)

Sweetened coconut flakes or chopped peanut butter chips, optional (I never use coconut; don’t like it.)

Insert wooden stick into each washed and dried apple. Cover tray with wax paper.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together peanut butter chips and oil. Microwave on high 1 1/2 minutes or until chips are softened. Stir until melted. If necessary, microwave at high an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred.

Stir together powdered sugar and cocoa, gradually add to melted chip mixture, stirring until smooth. Microwave at high 1 minute or until very warm.

Dip apple in mixture, twirl to remove excess coating. (if coating becomes too thick, return to microwave for a few seconds or add additional oil 1 teaspoon at a time). Roll lower half of coated apple in coconut or chopped peanut butter chips if desired. Allow to cool on tray lined with wax paper. Refrigerate if desired. Makes 10-12 apples.

— www.hersheys.com

CHEESY CRESCENT ROLL GHOSTS

1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend (4 ounces)

Assorted sliced olives

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray or cover with cooking parchment paper.

On cutting board, unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. From center of longest side to opposite point, cut each triangle in half, making 16 triangles. Shape each as needed to look like ghost shape. Arrange triangles on cookie sheets, folding narrow point under about 1/2 inch, to form head of ghost.

Bake about 7 minutes or until slightly puffed and just beginning to brown. Sprinkle each ghost with 1 tablespoon cheese; top with sliced olives to form mouth and eyes. Black olive pieces make great eyes and a sliced pimiento-stuffed green olive, a mouth. Bake 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Nutritional data: (per appetizer) calories, 45; fat, 2.5 grams; sodium, 90 milligrams; dietary fiber, 0 grams. Diabetic exchange: 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 fat.

— From “Pillsbury Halloween, October 2007”

CANDY CORN POPCORN BALLS

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

1 package (10 1/2 ounces) miniature marshmallows (about 6 cups)

1 package (4-serving size) gelatin, any flavor

12 cups (3 quarts) popped popcorn

1 cup candy corn

Microwave butter and marshmallows in large microwavable bowl on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Stir in gelatin until well mixed.

Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn and candy corn in large bowl. Mix lightly until well coated. Shape into 15 balls or other shapes with greased or wet hands. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and tie with raffia or ribbon, if desired. Makes 15.

— “Kraft Halloween, 2002”

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.
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