Halloween Recipes | The Daily Dish - Part 2

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Halloween Recipes

Halloween Monthly Recipe Contest

5 Comments | Written on September 30, 2012 at 5:00 am , by

October Monthly Contest Theme – Halloween!

Enter your best Halloween recipe from September 30th through October 27th 2012.  Better Recipes registered members can upload a new original recipe or enter an existing original recipe they already have on their account.  Remember, a photo is required for all entries in the monthly recipe contests  Click here to enter now!

Keep reading to find out how to enter and win up to $1,000 this month!

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Pumpkin Contest Winner – Fireside Pumpkin Soup

9 Comments | Written on November 2, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

With the East coast blanketed in snow, this winning recipe has a very appropriate title:  “Fireside Pumpkin Soup.”  I imagine sitting by a crackling fire, enjoying spoonfuls of this slightly sweet and subtly spicy soup.  Not only does the soup use pumpkin puree, it is also topped with a “Spiced Pepita Gremolata.”    Pepitas are the green hulled kernels of a pumpkin seed, and a gremolata is a condiment with citrus zest and garlic.  This is one of those recipes where every component works together and compliments each other perfectly.  Check out Veronica’s winning dish and learn more about this accomplished cook!

Creamy spiced pumpkin soup is accented with a bright citrus gremolata. This fall favorite warms us to the core on cool New England autumn nights.

FIRESIDE PUMPKIN SOUP WITH SPICED PEPITA GREMOLATA  (click here to view and print recipe)

Spiced Pepita Gremolata:

1/2 cup  Pepitas

1 Tbsp  Finely Chopped Lemon Zest

1 Tbsp  Finely Chopped Orange Zest

1/8 tsp  Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt

1 clove  Garlic, minced


1 Tbsp  Butter

2   Shallots, peeled and diced

1  Carrot, peeled and diced

1  (15 Oz) Can Pureed Pumpkin

1 tsp  Freshly Grated Ginger

1/8 tsp  Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp  Salt

1/2 tsp  Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 Tbsp  Honey

2 cups   Vegetable Broth

1/2 cup  Half-and-half

1. To prepare the gremolata, place the pepitas in an even layer in a small nonstick skillet. Cook the pepitas over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, orange zest, cayenne pepper, salt and minced garlic. Transfer gremolata to a small bowl and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and carrot and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the pumpkin, ginger, cayenne pepper, salt, pumpkin pie spice, honey, and the broth to the shallots. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to a blender container or a food processor. Puree soup until smooth then return to the saucepan.

5. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and heat until warm.

6. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with the gremolata.

Helpful Tips:

Pepitas are the green hulled kernels of pumpkin seeds and can be found in most large supermarkets–look for the unsalted variety. If you are unable to locate them, you may substitute sunflower seeds or even chopped pecans or walnuts.

Congratulations Veronica!  How did you come up with your winning recipe? 

My family loves soups so I am always creating interesting soups for everyone to try-I created this recipe for Thanksgiving last year.

What inspired you to enter the Better Recipes weekly contest again?

I love the Better Recipes weekly contest! I like when my recipe is selected but it is also a great resource for other people’s delicious recipes that I can make for my family.

Why do you think your recipe stood out to the judges?

Maybe it is because I used pumpkin in two ways, the puree as well as the use of pepitas for the gremolata.

Do you have any plans for the prize money?  Any plans if you should win the grand prize?

Well after getting a foot of snow the Saturday before Halloween I am thinking it is a bad omen for New England snow this winter so I think I would like to invest in a snow blower!

I hope it isn’t a bad omen, but it sounds like a snow blower might be a good investment!  Thanks again Veronica! 

Don’t forget, our recipe contest theme this week is “Maple.”  Click here to submit your recipes from now through Saturday at midnight!  Good luck everyone!

October – 4 Ingredient Challenge

9 Comments | Written on October 24, 2011 at 8:00 am , by


Welcome to a very special “Halloween Edition” of the 4-ingredient challenge!  Right about now, we are buying up pumpkins and preparing to carve them for the big day next week.  This month for the challenge, I was inspired to use what is leftover after the pumpkin carving!

This month, the four challenge ingredients are:


Brown Rice



It is the pumpkin where I decided to take a strategic detour.  I figured if everyone was already carving up the pumpkin for Jack-0-Lantern’s, then I wanted to find a way to use the seeds!  Accompanied by some pumpkin pie spice and, if you so desire, a bit of seasonal Pumpkin Ale.  It felt too easy to just grill the chicken, so I decided to also grill the apples to give them some nice color as well as toast the pumpkin seeds on the grill.

In my dish, I prepared grilled chicken breasts with a pumpkin pie spice and sage rub.  This is served along a brown rice pilaf with grilled apples and toasted pumpkin seeds.  I couldn’t believe how pleased I was with the results!  It was a bit of a risk using the pumpkin pie spice, but it balanced nicely with the sage.  The brown rice pilaf tasted like Thanksgiving stuffing!  With the sweet crunch of the apples and seasoned with thyme, this side dish could definitely be served at any Thanksgiving table.  Take a look at the full recipe and then browse around the other challenge entries!  Happy Halloween everyone!


Rice Pilaf:

2 Granny Smith apples, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

4 Tablespoons butter

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup celery, chopped

3 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Pumpkin Spice Chicken:

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Grill apple slices about 1 minute on each side to soften and create grill marks.  At the same time on a grill-safe pan, toast pepitas until fragrant.  Set grilled apples and toasted pepitas aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter.  Add onion and celery, and saute about 5 minutes until softened.  Stir in cooked brown rice.  Add thyme, salt, and pepper.  Dice grilled apples and add to the pilaf mixture.  Stir in toasted pepitas.  Keep warm while chicken is grilling.

Combine pumpkin pie spice, sage, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken breasts.  Grill 8-10 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.

Serve grilled pumpkin spice chicken with brown rice pilaf.  Serves 4.  Adults can enjoy this meal with a seasonal Pumpkin Ale, or apple cider for children.

Additional participants in this month’s Ingredient Challenge include:

Larry of The BBQ GrailENTRY HERE

The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on Alltop.com as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ – ENTRY HERE

The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world. Somewhere along the way things got out of control…

Hanneke Eerden of The Dutchess Cooks – ENTRY HERE

After years of cooking, grilling, baking and reading other people’s blogs, I thought “why not start my own blog??” And I did, in 2010, but already after a short period of time, a blog wasn’t enough, and I started my own website. It’s not my goal to publish or come up with fancy and difficult recipes: just good and delicious food with an international twist! Straight from my plate to yours!

Curt McAdams of Livefire: – ENTRY HERE

Livefire: Livefire cooking is about taking ordinary cooking and adding the flavor of fire to it, whether in high heat grilling, low heat smoking or indirect heat for baking. It’s about taking the primitive element of fire and harnessing it to make great food.

Marc Van Der Wouw of Grill Adventures ENTRY HERE

Grilladventures by broadcastmarc is started on march of 2010.I started the BBQ thing when I was 30,before that we eat a lot outside.have fun,but when the kids came in our life We start serious cooking.Most of it is really healthy I think;-)The grill has a special place in my heart,We love to do things outside..Everything I make is an adventure,and sometimes we use the books.We try to grill as much as we can year round.

Freek Haan of Freek’s Food Blog ENTRY HERE

Maybe some of you know me from my Dutch blogsite www.freeksbbq.nl. I have a great passion for grilling, since it is always challenging. For me grilling is a time to relax and to have a great time with friends and family. I wanted to reach more people with my blog since there are so many food lovers and freaks out there! So that’s why I decided to blog in English instead of Dutch.

Halloween Cake Pops

11 Comments | Written on October 19, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Cake Pops are so hot right now.  Suddenly they are “popping” up everywhere from local bakeries to Starbucks!  They are incredibly fun to make and decorate with your own special flair.  Plus, they are super easy to prepare using the “Babycakes” Cake Pop Maker.    Keep on reading…you just might want to order your Cake Pops Maker now for the holidays!

The “Babycakes” appliance is available to order online at the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Store.  This new feature to the Better Homes and Gardens website offers one stop shopping for all your holiday needs!  At only $25.95 the Cake Pops Maker is one of the top sellers.  Go ahead and check out the store and place your order today.  Heck, get two!  One for yourself and one to give as a gift.

Simply whip up your favorite batter then add about 1 tablespoon to each reservoir on the appliance.   Close the lid, wait 4 minutes, and voila!  Like magic you have created perfectly round, bite-sized cakes.  I loved the non-stick surface for easy cooking and cleaning.  My advice?  Place your order now for the holidays!  It is a fun cooking project with kids and the perfect bite-sized dessert to serve at parties.

I tried three different recipes, Red Velvet, Vanilla and Chocolate.  It was amazing how easy it was to use and how the pops came out perfectly every time!  Take a look at my versions for “Devilish Red Velvet Cake Pops,”  “Ghostly Vanilla Cake Pops,” and “Chocolate Bat Cake Pops!” 



1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon cocoa

1/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon red food coloring

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting Dip (recipe follows)

Twizzlers “pull and peel” candy

1.  Combine flour, salt and cocoa in a small bowl.  Blend well and set aside.

2.  Using a mixer, beat butter until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla blend well.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk the red food coloring into the buttermilk.

4.  Alternately blend flour mixture, then buttermilk mixture into butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

5.  Combine the vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl and allow to fizz.   Fold into cake batter.

6.  Fill each cooking reservir with about 1 tablespoon of batter.

7.  Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cake pop comes out clean.

8.  Allow to cool and coat with Red Velvet Cake Frosting Dip.  Form “devil ears” with thin strands of Twizzlers “pull and peel” candy.  Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes to set candy.

Red Velvet Frosting Dip

1 container (16 ounces) Cream Cheese frosting

1/2 cup vanilla chips

Red food coloring

1.  Spoon frosting into deep microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.  Stir well.  Blend in chips.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.

2.  Allow to stand 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave on HIGH for an additional 10 to 15 seconds if necessary to melt chips.  Add food coloring to desired shade.  Stir until smooth.

3.  Dip cake pops in warm frosting dip.

4.  Microwave on HIGH for 10 to 15 seconds as needed to keep a glaze consistency.  Makes 1 2/3 cups of frosting.



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup mailk

Vanilla Frosting Dip (recipe follows)

White fondant sheets or white gum paste

Black icing gel

1.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

3.  Alternately blend in flour mixture and milk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

4.  Fill each cooking resevoir with about 1 Tablespoon of batter.

5.  Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cake pop comes out clean.

6.  Allow to cool and coat with Vanilla Frosting Dip.  Cover with a sheet of rolled fondant or gum paste.  Make “eyes” with black icing gel.

Vanilla Frosting Dip

1 container (16 ounces) Vanilla frosting

1/2 cup vanilla chips

1.  Spoon frosting into deep microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.  Stir well.  Blend in chips.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.

2.  Allow to stand 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave on HIGH for an additional 10 to 15 seconds if necessary to melt chips.  Stir until smooth.

3.  Dip cake pops in warm frosting dip.

4.  Microwave on HIGH for 10 to 15 seconds as needed to keep a glaze consistency.  Makes 1 2/3 cups of frosting.


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting Dip (recipe follows)

Chocolate covered pretzels

1.  Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla.  Using a mixer, blend until smooth.

2.  Add coffee and continue mixing until coffee is evenly incorporated into mixture.

3.  Fill each cooking reservoir with about 1 Tablespoon of batter

4.  Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake pop comes out clean.

5.  Allow to cool and coat with chocolate frosting dip.  Cut chocolate covered pretzels in half and attach “wings” to cake pops.  Allow to set for 5-10 minutes in freezer.

Chocolate Frosting Dip

1 container (16 ounces) Chocolate frosting

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Spoon frosting into deep microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.  Stir well.  Blend in chips.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.

2.  Allow to stand 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave on HIGH for an additional 10 to 15 seconds if necessary to melt chips.  Stir until smooth.

3.  Dip cake pops in warm frosting dip.

4.  Microwave on HIGH for 10 to 15 seconds as needed to keep a glaze consistency.  Makes 1 2/3 cups of frosting.

Cake Pop Maker Tips:

-Use a disposable pastry bag or zip lock bag to easily fill the cooking reservoirs.  Fill the bag with the prepared batter and clip one of the corners off the bag.   Squeeze gently to push batter from the corner of the bag.

-For best decorating results, after cake pops have cooled, place them in the freezer for 15 minutes or until well chilled, then dip quickly in the warm coating or glaze.

-To help set the coating or glaze, place the decorated cake pop in the freezer for 5 minutes.

One Pumpkin, Two Great Recipes!

4 Comments | Written on October 14, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Did you see the “How to Make Pumpkin Puree” article yesterday?  Today, I am going to show you how to make two delicious dishes from your homemade fresh pumpkin puree.  With one pumpkin, you can create an entire family meal!  It is cost effective and delicious.

Yesterday I demonstrated How to Make Pumpkin Puree on DaytimeTV and tomorrow I will be talking about these recipes on the radio!  Check out http://letsdineoutshow.com/ and you can listen in to a live stream from your computer.  It will air Saturday 10/15 at 4 PM on 590 KTIE in San Bernardino, CA.

For dinner whip up this unique and easy Pumpkin Chorizo Pizza.  If you are a fan of pepperoni pizza, give this version a try.  You won’t believe the flavorful pumpkin sauce instead of the traditional tomato-based pizza sauce!

Pumpkin-Chorizo Pizza  (click here to view and print recipe)

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

12 ounce purchased pizza crust

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup cubed fontina cheese

1/4 pound thinly sliced Spanish chorizo

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves


Additional olive oil and chopped sage for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over crust; set aside.  Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes to hot pan.  Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in pumpkin puree, smoked paprika, and salt.

Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and hot.  Spread sauce evenly over pizza crust; scatter with cubed fontina. Arrange sliced chorizo evenly over top and sprinkle with chopped sage.

Place pizza on a cookie sheet or directly on oven rack, if preferred.  Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.  If desired, drizzle a little olive oil over pizza and sprinkle with additional chopped sage.

Traditional Italian cannoli is given a seasonal twist in this recipe.  Pumpkin puree is incorporated in the filling and pumpkin seeds garnish the ends. 

Pumpkin Cannoli  (click here to view and print recipe) 

8 ounce container mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided

2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

12 purchased cannoli shells (two 4-ounce boxes)

Additional powdered sugar for dusting


In a large mixing bowl, stir together mascarpone cheese, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar, ricotta, and pumpkin pie spice until blended.

Fold in 1/4 cup of the pumpkin seeds and the mini chocolate chips; set aside.  In a chilled mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold into pumpkin mixture.

Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.  Right before serving, pipe pumpkin filling into cannoli shells, going all the way to the ends.  Sprinkle the ends with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds.  Sprinkle shell with powdered sugar and serve.

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

4 Comments | Written on October 13, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Have you ever looked at these seasonal gourds and wondered, “How do they get that in the can?”  In fact, it is quite easy to make your own homemade pumpkin puree!

I will be demonstrating these techniques today on “Daytime TV!”  Check your local listings to see if this syndicated show airs in your area.  (Click here for a complete list)  I’ll be sure to wave to all the Better Recipes readers on camera! 

You won’t believe how easy it is to make your own fresh pumpkin puree and use it in delicious recipes that everyone will love.  Pumpkins can be turned into soups, casseroles, side dishes, breads, cakes, cookies, pies, and preserves.  In addition to its wonderful flavor, pumpkin brings a host of nutrients to the table, particularly Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium.

Start with small pumpkins, about 2-3 pounds.  The smaller pumpkins are not only easier to handle, they are sweeter in taste.  First, wash the pumpkins over running water and pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel.  Next, cut the pumpkin into large chunks and scoop out all the seeds (save them for roasting!) and stringy bits. Now you are ready!

Here are some easy options on how to cook the pumpkins chunks.  Use whatever method is best for you.

1)  Microwave:  Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish.  Add 1/4 inch of water and cover pan with plastic wrap or wax paper, and vent.  Microwave on HIGH for about 10 minutes (or about 5 minutes per pound) until pumpkin is tender.

2)  Oven-Roasting:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish.  Add 1/4 inch of water and bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes (depending on chunk sizes) until flesh is tender, checking occasionally to add more water, if needed.

3)  Slow Cooker:  Place pumpkin chunks, skin side down, in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until pumpkin is tender.

4)  Steaming:  Heat water to boiling in a saucepan that fits a steamer.  Place pumpkin chunks in steamer container and place over pan.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.

For all methods after pumpkin is cooked, scoop out pulp and discard skin.

Pulp can be pureed in a blender or food processor, or stirred by hand until smooth, or you can keep it chunky, if desired.

Pulp keeps in the refrigerator for a week or it can also be frozen in airtight containers for 6 months.  A 2-3 pound pumpkin will make about 2-1/2 cups of puree.

We wouldn’t want anything to go to waste, time to cook up the seeds!

To make roasted pumpkin seeds, place seeds in a colander and rinse.  Pick out all pieces of pulp.  Place seeds on a baking sheet and pat dry.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle a little vegetable oil over seeds and sprinkle with some salt and toss.  Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and return to oven.  Bake another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until golden and crispy.

If you would like a complete “How-To Cook Pumpkin Seeds” with step-by-step instructions visit this page:  http://halloween.betterrecipes.com/how-to-cook-pumpkin-seeds.html

Extra! Extra! Special Halloween Edition of “The Daily Dish!”

1 Comment | Written on October 31, 2010 at 12:36 pm , by

Happy Halloween, Better Recipes!  We couldn’t let this sweet and delicious holiday pass by without one, final recipe to celebrate.  In fact, this recipe is the winner in Week 2 of the “Holiday Favorites” Recipe Contest!  This dish is not only a great treat to serve a crowd, it is also a perfect centerpiece for a Halloween table!  The sweet cream cheese spread “spills” from the mouth of your Jack-o-Lantern!


This is especially effective if you give the pumpkin a distressed face–guaranteed to get several “euwwww’s” at your Halloween celebration!


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
few drops orange food coloring
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 cups candy corn
1 1/2 cup caramel corn or Cracker Jack mix
1 carved pumpkin, with the mouth towards the bottom of the pumpkin
Vanilla wafers or graham crackers for serving


In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and food coloring until creamy. Fold in the whipped topping, candy corn, and caramel corn. Place pumpkin on a tray, and spoon the cheese mixture from the mouth unto the tray to look like the pumpkin is throwing up. Serve with vanilla wafers or graham crackers for dipping or spreading.

Number of Servings:  approximately 12

Congratulations to Sally S. for her winning “Halloween Treats” recipe!  Tell us a little bit about your recipe and how you came up with “Pumpkin Guts Cheese Spread.”

“I tried to create a recipe that would appeal to a variety of ages, and that would be “fun”, yet taste good.  I used a no bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I developed years ago as the base for it, then added Halloween-y things that would make it look chunky to be realistic.”

Very nice!  It reminds me of our “Gross Halloween Recipes!”  Can you share one of your favorite Halloween memories with us?

“My favorite Halloween memory is when my son, who was a holy terror, won the “best costume” prize at his school for a devils’s costume (age 5), and he told me that his teacher said the costume was most appropriate!”

Thanks so much Sally!  Don’t forget, it is now a new week with a new theme!  From now through Saturday, November 6th we are looking for your best “Soups and Stews.”  Enter today!

Sandra Lee’s Halloween Tips and Graveyard Dips!

1 Comment | Written on October 22, 2010 at 5:00 am , by

This Sunday October 24th at 11:30am ET/PT on Food Network, the “Queen of Halloween,” Sandra Lee, will wow viewers with a special “Renaissance Halloween” episode of Semi-Homemade featuring five costumes created by legendary designer, Bob Mackie.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Sandra about her tips for costumes, decorations and, of course, recipes for Halloween.  I was even able to ask a few questions on behalf of our Facebook and Twitter fans!  She also told me all about her brand new cookboook, filled with 1001 semi-homemade recipes.

Facebook fans Rebecca and Jaymie both inquired about Sandra’s matching sets, wardrobe and tablescapes.  Sandra explained that coordinating wardrobe and sets is not a new concept.  If you look back at old episodes of the Lawrence Welk Show, Donny and Marie or Sonny and Cher, they often did the same thing.  Sandra likes the idea of showing viewers what’s possible and appeal to a wide variety of different tastes!

Tina wanted me to ask Sandra about appetizer ideas for Halloween.  Sandra said that when it comes to appetizers, the best bet is to stick with the classic favorites.  Who doesn’t love cocktail wieners wrapped in puff pastry and dipped in mustard?  Or a warm round of brie cheese topped with cranberry chutney?  As easy as these appetizers are, they are always a crowd pleaser!

Here are a few other tips Sandra shared during our conversation:

Decorations: You can buy everything you need at the grocery store!  Pumpkins, mums and even small bales of hay create great Fall tablescapes that can carry you from Halloween all the way through to Thanksgiving.  You save time and money!

Costumes: Create “semi-homemade” costumes with some creative shopping in your own closet.  No need to throw away ripped nylons.  Simply pair them with some flashy jewelry and wild hair and you have a fantastic 80’s inspired costume!

Food and Drinks: It is all about having fun with minimal stress.  Make cocktails by the pitcher but don’t add ice.  When you are ready to enjoy, serve them up on the rocks.

This recipe for “Spooktacular Graveyard Dip” is one of our Top Ten Gross Halloween Recipes.  A layered dip is always a hit with guests and a stress-free dish like this is on par with Sandra Lee’s entertaining philosophy!



Tortilla tombstones are placed in this dip, which layers cream cheese, sour cream, and green chilies with canned chili, cheese and lettuce.


  • 8 eight-inch flour tortillas
  • Black food color writer
  • 1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 15-ounce can prepared chili with beans
  • 1 8-oz package shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 4-5 large whole pitted black olives
  • Tortilla chips


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tortillas into tombstone shapes, about 3-inches wide by 4-inches high. If using black food writer, write funny epitaphs on each tombstone. (For example: Yul B. Next or Al B. Back.) Spray tortillas with nonstick cooking spray. Bake until beginning to brown; turn; bake on other side and cool. In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese and sour cream. Fold in green chilies and green onions. Place in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Pour prepared chili on top of cream cheese mixture, then cover with shredded cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, then cool slightly. Cover cheese layer with shredded lettuce. Carefully set tortilla tombstones down into dip. Cut olives as follows to make spiders: Cut a small piece from closed end of each olive to make spiders head. Cut a slice from the side of each olive to make spider body. Cut remainder of each olive into 8 small pieces to make spider legs. Arrange spiders on top of lettuce around tombstones. Serve with additional tortilla chips.

Number of Servings: 4-6

Notes: Instead of food color writer, black food coloring mixed into some additional cream cheese and placed in a decorator bag can be used to write epitaphs after tortillas are completely cooled.

Pumpkin Bisque with Wild Rice

13 Comments | Written on October 6, 2010 at 5:00 am , by

Autumn is officially here!  There is a chill in the air, pumpkins are available in the markets and Halloween is right around the corner.  I was in the mood for a slow cooking meal from the crock pot and that’s when I stumbled upon this fantastic recipe from Better Recipes user robin.haas.   A bisque with pumpkin puree, white beans and wild rice?  I am in!  The result is a hearty and satisfying meal that filled my kitchen with the aroma of fall.

With a few twists, the recipe can be made vegetarian as well as non-fat if you prefer.  In addition, pumpkin is packed with vitamins and minerals.  Check out these health benefits from pumpkin:

  • Pumpkin is very rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping the immune system of an individual strong and healthy.
  • Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, is a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps prevent build up of cholesterol on the arterial walls, thus reducing chances of strokes.
  • Rich in alpha-carotene, pumpkin is believed to slow the process of aging and also prevent cataract formation.
  • Pumpkins have been known to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.
  • Pumpkin is high in fiber.
  • Loaded with potassium, pumpkin is associated with lowering the risk of hypertension.
  • The presence of zinc in pumpkins boosts the immune system and also improves the bone density.

Pumpkin Soup


Pumpkin puree is combined in the crock pot with rice, onion, white beans, seasonings and cream. Vegetarians may wish to substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.


  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • 2 15-ounce cans canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 3 1/2 cups cold water
  • 4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain and wild rice
  • 2 tsp cooking sherry, optional
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley


Combine all ingredients, except cream and parsley, in a 5-6 quart crock pot. Cook on high heat setting for 3 1/2 hours or on low for 7 hours. Ten minutes before serving, stir in cream; cover to heat through. Sprinkle with dried parsley before serving.

Number of Servings: 6-10

Note:  If you want to make this as a nonfat recipe, you can omit the cream altogether.

Bewitching Halloween Video and Recipes!

No Comments | Written on October 1, 2010 at 5:00 am , by

We have some frightening, disgusting, and gruesome suprises for you this Halloween on Better Recipes!  Stay tuned for special holiday pages such as our “Top 10 Gross Halloween Recipes,” “How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds,” “How to Make Halloween Treats,” and “Top 10 Easy Halloween Recipes.”



Hot dogs wrapped in refrigerated bread sticks resemble brooms when sliced at one end.


  • 1 tube refrigerated breadstick dough
  • 12 beef or turkey franks


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lay franks on a cutting board. On one side of the frank, come in 2 1/2 inches in from the end and make two cuts lengthwise to the end of the frank so that you have three equal strands, turn the frank on its side and repeat the two cuts so that you have a total of nine strands still connected to the frank. These will be the bristles of the broom. Using a strand of the breadstick dough, wrap the uncut end of the frank and press the dough together around it so that the dough is blended around the frank. This is the handle of the broomstick. Place the brooms (wrapped franks) on the cookie sheet and bake 11 to 15 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy.

Number of Servings: 12 



A floating hand, made with frozen raspberries, cranberry juice and gelatin, makes for a scary punch. Float the “hand” in a mixture of ginger ale and sparkling apple cider.


  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • 2 liters sparkling apple cider (non-alcoholic)
  • 6 gummi snakes candy


To make the frozen hand: Wash and rinse the outside of a latex dish-washing glove. Turn glove inside out and set aside. In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine the thawed raspberries and cranberry juice. Pour 2 cups of the raspberry mixture into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand 2 minutes. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves. Mix back into the reserved raspberry mixture in the measuring cup. Pour raspberry mixture into the inverted glove. Gather up the top of the glove and tie securely with kitchen twine. Freeze until solid, or several days if possible. To serve: Carefully cut latex glove away from frozen hand. Place frozen hand, palm side up, leaning against side of a large punch bowl. Pour in ginger ale and sparkling cider. Garnish with gummy snakes.

Number of Servings: 16