Quick Halloween Food Ideas

This post is coming a little later than I planned...but I have loads of recipes on here that would make any Halloween a little tastier and more festive!  We have always done chili for Halloween but this year we are changing things up and doing a nacho bar. We are providing nacho sauce, chips, salsa, jalapenos and drinks and the neighbors are bringing more nacho toppings. I'll post pictures later, I'm excited! However, I have been on a strict chicken, egg whites, fruits and veggies diet the last 2 days in preparation!

Some of my favorite warm, fall-y foods/drinks that you could make quickly with one fast run to the store are:

All-American Chili  We have made this four years running for our Halloween Block Party!  Quick to make and easy to keep warm in the crockpot until your trick-or-treaters are hungry for some real food.  (My trick-or-treaters haven't ever been hungry for real food, but it could happen to you.)

Chorizo Queso Super quick and addictive! I can definitely make a meal out of this... and there's no better time to eat some super processed cheese than directly before 16 miniature candy bars.

Pumpkin Lattes OR Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup-- A little adult treat for trick or treaters.  Hot Apple Cider would be super tasty for non-coffee drinkers.  I'm making a big batch of the cider for the neighbors (annnd myself). Just in case the hot apple cider doesn't have enough sugar already I like to drizzle caramel sauce in it and top with whipped cream, yum!

Pumpkin Cookies or Pumpkin Cupcakes Only two ingredients and low fat!

Caramel Apples These are so yummy and a great way to use up some of a 40lb case of apples. If one was so inclined to buy a case of apples.


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Mad Scientist and Other Inexpensive Halloween Costumes

We are attempting to stick to our budget, live within our means and not spend money on unneccesary things so that we can hopefully send our children to college and be more generous.  One way we cut down is by not buying Halloween costumes this year.  I know that sounds nutty, but we were able to borrow or make everything by using stuff we already had and it was actually kind of fun.  Well, fun for me, I guess we could ask  my mom how fun it was since she was the one who sewed my oldests Indiana Jones vest.  My oldest son's school had a Fall Festival last week so we got to dress up early.

Here we have:
Indiana Jones-- We borrowed the hat, whip and satchel from a friend whose son was Indie last year. Although if you needed to buy it, the whip and satchel are super cheap on Amazon with 2-day shipping available. Grammy made the vest with brown fabric I bought for $3.00 so total out of pocket was $3.00 for this! (I told him he couldn't take the whip to school so he traded it out for two guns...which he also didn't get to take to school.)

A Princess--She's wearing a dress-up dress that has seen better days, but I forgot to get her borrowed Snow White costume before the Fall Festival! Total spent on this is $1.00 at the dollar store for a crown. On Halloween she will be Snow White and I did buy some red ribbon for her hair so total on her costume(s)--$2.00 (with leftover ribbon for another project.)

Mad Scientist-- This is my favorite!  I got this idea from my friend after she hosted an unreal Mad Scientist Birthday Party for her son, complete with science experiments, lab coats and goggles, and a petri dish filled with gummy worms as a party favor.  I figured I could make my youngest play this part because we joke that his hair looks like Einstein's.  It worked out great.  I borrowed the bow tie from my sister, he wore a shirt and pants he already had, and I purchased the glasses from the Dollar Store and the boys size 6 shirt (lab coat) from the Goodwill 50% off sale for $1.50 so total spent on this costume was $2.50. 

Total Spent for three Halloween Costumes: $7.50...not too shabby!  As for the cost of a Halloween Block Party complete with a nacho bar and apple cider.....a little more than that but we love doing it!!

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Skinny Pumpkin Cookies, Two Ways

I am in love with these cookies.  So is our small group it turns out.  It's actually kind of a problem, because even if the cookies are "skinny" compared to other cookies, if someone were to eat half a batch it would become the equivalent of eating an entire row of double stuff Oreos...not that I've done either one of those scenarios.  Whats almost as cool as how delicious these cookies are is how simple they are to make.  I don't necessarily enjoy baking but these come together with very little time/mess.

These cookies came about because I was trying to make the Pumpkin Cupcakes and realized that I didn't have any cupcake liners so then I thought..."hmmm I bet these could be cookies."  Then I had dejavu of  my sister in-law stirring pumpkin and cookie mix together with chocolate chips last Christmas and I figured it would work.  It did.

I love these cookies so much with the caramel icing or with chocolate chips or even just as uncooked batter.

Skinny Pumpkin Cookies, Two Ways

1 box spice cake mix
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips OR
1 batch caramel icing

Preheat the oven to 350.  Beat cake mix and pumpkin puree together on medium speed with a hand mixer until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips, if you're using them. Drop by rounded tablespoon-full onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.  They will still be quite soft when cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool.  If topping with icing, make the icing and generously drizzle over the cookies. 


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Double Chocolate Peanut Caramel Corn

When I was growing up my mom made caramel corn pretty often and we all loved it.  It's so weird that I was a fat kid now that I think about it...

Anyway, her caramel corn recipe is perfect, unfortunately she was driving to my house when I decided to make some so I had to use a different recipe from my friend, which is really close to perfect, so it all worked out!  I wanted to make it a little bit more gourmet so I added the peanuts and chocolate which put it over the top. I think next time I'll sprinkle some peanut butter M&M's in with the finished product to make it even more fun! Now I'm off to do cardio for 2 hours.

I highly recommend using candy quik, candy melts, or almond bark for the chocolate because it melts great and hardens up really fast.  I took a picture so you know what to look for! If you don't care for that option, 1/2 c. of chocolate chips with a tsp. of vegetable oil would work just great also!  I popped my own popcorn on the stove using this method.  It is kind of a pain though, so if you have an air popper (I want one!) or just prefer to use microwave popcorn that works awesome.  One tip I highly recommend, is to be very careful to remove all un-popped popcorn seeds or you could break a tooth on your caramel corn!
Double Chocolate Peanut Caramel Corn
recipe first posted on Cracked Up Kitchen
2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. butter (real butter only)
1/2 c. corn syrup
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
16 c. popcorn
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. dry roasted peanuts
2 cubes chocolate almond bark or candy quik (or more, if you like it super chocolatey)
2 cubes vanilla almond bark or candy quik (or more, if you like it super chocolatey)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bring brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream of tartar and vanilla to a boil over medium heat and let boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Once the five minutes is up, remove from heat and add baking soda (it will bubble up) and stir well.  Pour caramel over the popcorn and stir well.  Pour caramel corn onto two cookie sheets, no need to grease them.  Bake 20 minutes, noting which pan is on the bottom rack and which is on the top, remove from oven and stir with a spatula.  Return the sheets to the oven, rotating the pans to the opposite (top/bottom) rack of the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the peanuts on the popcorn, stir with a spatula and rotate the pans again.  Bake 15 minutes, stirring and rotating pans, three more times, baking the popcorn a total of just under 1 1/2 hours. Remove pans from the oven and pour the popcorn onto wax paper or foil on the kitchen counter.  Let the caramel corn cool for a few minutes.  Then, heat the bark in a microwave safe bowl 20 seconds at a time until  melted (directions for melting on package) and drizzle chocolate all over the popcorn.  Let rest until completely cool and the chocolate is firm.  Enjoy!

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Chili Cheese Baked Potato

Chili is the epitome of a fall meal.  Warm.  Filling.  Adaptable.  I use it in  many ways.  I recently started utilizing my freezer space more by making large or double batches of a meal and freezing some for later.  I've found that it is way less than double the work, it doesn't cost much more and it really pays off when I'm reheating frozen food instead of running to Pei Wei for dinner in a pinch.  With the most recent batch of chili I made, I was able to freeze 4 quart ziplocs of the leftover.  Last week I made these potatoes for dinner and everyone ate them happily, which lately is really saying something.  A baked potato bar would be a fun party meal, as the topping options are endless.  We had chili, shredded extra sharp Tillamook, chopped nacho jalapeno slices, diced red onion and sour cream.  I was bummed I didn't have any jalapeno dip on hand because that would've been super yummy.  Any chili would be just perfect.  I used this.

I love this picture because it cutely illustrates how patiently my family waits for their dinner while photos are being taken. I love them.

Chili Cheese Baked Potato
recipe by Cracked Up Kitchen

1 quart chili, your favorite chili is great
4 large baked potatoes
shredded cheese
sour cream
chopped red onion
any other favorite toppings

Heat chili until piping hot.  Split warm baked potatoes and top with chili and your desired toppings.

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Buffalo Chicken Salad

We love buffalo.  You may have noticed...buffalo chicken dip, buffalo chicken tacos, buffalo chicken bake, and now this.  This is one of my  new favorite salads, super simple to make but very filling and yummy.

I made some homemade Ranch dressing from the Pioneer Woman's site and it was very good on this, but any bottle of your favorite Ranch would be perfect.  This recipe is for enough for 4-6 dinner sized salads, or the chicken reheats well for lunches too.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
recipe from Cracked Up Kitchen

1.5 lbs chicken breast
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. granulated onion
1/3 c. Franks Buffalo Sauce, plus more for serving. (This is in the same aisle as the other hot sauce, right next to the regular Franks)

1 head romaine, green leaf, or red leaf lettuce, chopped
2-3 roma tomatoes, sliced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
4 green onions, chopped
Ranch dressing
shredded cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles

Put the chicken in the crockpot, sprinkle on seasonings and pour on the buffalo sauce.  Cook on low 4-6 hours until it shreds easily.  To assemble salads, fill a bowl with lettuce, top with tomatoes, celery, carrot and onions and toss with Ranch to your liking.  Top with chicken and drizzle with extra buffalo sauce if desired.  Sprinkle with cheeses before serving.


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Pinspiration -- Grout Cleaner

Super shocking, but...I'm kind of a Pinterest junkie.  I love finding crafts, recipes and diy ideas on there.  I thought it would be fun to start blogging about the "Pinspiration" I've found and how it's worked out for me.  Today, I am humbling myself to show you my disgusting, black grout.  (Apparently once every eight years isn't often enough to scrub your grout.)

I found this idea on Pinterest for a homemade cleaner for your grout that is supposed to be super amazing.  I have known (for too long) that I needed to clean my grout, and I'd love to pay someone to do it, but frankly if I was going to spend over $100 on something it wouldn't be that! So I knew I needed to do it myself.  I looked up the recipe, made a batch in a very clearly labled container and went to work.

This works! Unfortunately, this is not a miracle cleaner.  I was kind of hoping I would be able to spray the grout, let it sit a while, and wipe it off.  It didn't work that way.  Sadly, I was doing the Cinderella move for several hours, because we have a few hundred square feet of tile.  After a quick run to Target to buy a grout brush, which I would say is a complete necessity for this job, I got my groove going and my floors look amazing.  Then I iced my back.  For a long time.

Overall, this works.  I will do it again, with my eyes wide open that I will burn 10,000 calories and sweat a lot doing it, but much much sooner than eight years!

Grout Cleaner
recipe from food.com

1/2 c. baking soda
1/3 c. ammonia
1/4 c. white vinegar
7 c. water

Supplies needed:
large container to mix cleaner in
Empty spray bottle for using
bucket of clean water
cleaning rag
grout brush

Mix everything together in a large container and shake well to combine.  Pour some of the cleaner into a spray bottle.  On your hands and knees (fun!), spray a small section of grout and let it sit a minute.  Scrub with the grout brush and wipe away the dirt as you go.  Enjoy!!

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Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Panini

These grilled veggie and goat cheese paninis are one of my new favorite things to make for a vegetarian meal. The best part is you can double your veggies and use them as a side dish one night and use the leftovers on a panini the next day. I used our favorite sourdough bread but any bread you prefer would be great.  I do realize that goat cheese is a strong flavor, not for everyone, so if you don't love it an easy sub would be cream cheese or brie.

I make paninis on our indoor grill, but you can make them in a regular skillet with another pan over the top to flatten it a little bit.  My in-laws got us a George Foreman Grill last Christmas--we love using it for almost everything, seriously.  Potatoes, breakfast sausages, burgers, chicken, frozen meatballs, fish, veggies, paninis, the list goes on.  I highly recommend it.  It's great for use especially in this climate, because I hate to turn on the oven from March-November!

Anywho...on to the panini, use this recipe as a guide and use whichever veggies you prefer!

Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Panini

2 yellow or red bell peppers, quartered and seeded
1 zuchini, thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 portobello mushrooms
1 1/2 c. italian dressing
few dashes hot sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 slices french or sourdough bread
8 Tb. (or more) goat cheese
olive oil for bread (I used my oil sprayer)

A few hours ahead of time, or the night before, put all the veggies in a large ziploc or a 9x13 pan.  In a medium bowl mix together the italian dressing, hot sauce and garlic.  Pour the dressing over the veggies to marinate.

First, grill the veggies, in two batches if necessary, and set aside.  You could also roast the veggies in the oven if that's more convenient. To make paninis, heat a panini press, indoor grill or skillet.  Spray or drizzle one side of each piece of bread with olive oil.  Layer 1 tb. (or more) goat cheese, peppers, zuchini, squash, onion and mushrooms.  Grill until golden brown on each side.  Perfect with oven fries!

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Chicken Tamale Pie

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  Shocker, I know.  This is one of my absolute new favorite recipes that will for sure go on our regular rotation.  It is super simple, not so shabby on the calorie count and inexpensive to make.  Try this! After I had made this a couple times I saw a blog post where someone made this with carnitas on top...I don't see any reason why you couldn't put any leftover meat on top of this in place of the chicken.  (ie leftover roast) I also think some roasted or grilled veggies would be fabulous in place of meat for a vegetarian option.
I have to give a little plug to Market Pantry enchilada sauce.  It. Is. The. Best.  I accidentally tried it because I had forgotten to buy enchilada sauce for this recipe at the regular grocery store.  Seriously, worth going to Target to pick it up.
Chicken Tamale Pie
recipe adapted from Experimental Mommy
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayene pepper
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1 can creamed corn
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I seasoned my chicken with taco seasoning)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 pan with oil.  Mix together the muffin mix, cumin, cayenne pepper, egg, milk and creamed corn.  Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and poke holes all over the cornbred with a fork.  Pour the enchilada sauce over cornbread.  Layer the chicken over the enchilada sauce and sprinkle the cheese on top of everything.  Bake another 15 minutes.  Let stand a few minutes before serving. 
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