Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or treat — It's time to eat!

10/27/10 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Trick or treat — It’s time to eat!

Halloween is an American melting pot event. If you’re looking for a touch-feely holiday, this isn’t it. It is what you get when you combine a religious holiday (All Hallow’s Eve) with a harvest celebration and a myriad of Celtic pagan beliefs and rituals. It means one thing to you and something else to your neighbor. It’s day for kids to solicit candy and grown-ups to wish they were kids again!

Halloween activities have always been fraught with controversy. During the early 1900s, pranks and mischief often got out of hand and turned into vandalism. Even the KKK got into the act. That’s when the “trick or treat” concept came into play. Schools, communities and the Boy Scouts began organizing safe carnivals and outings for kids to have treats instead of play tricks.

The earliest known printed use of the words “trick or treat” occurred in 1934 when a Portland, Ore newspaper ran an article about how every year Halloween pranks kept local police officers busy. But the trick or treat custom was well established n the 1940s when I was a kid.

Wearing masks and costumes we giggled our way through pitch black darkness for chocolate. We didn’t care about the day’s origin or what it meant and neither do today’s kids. They just want to dress up and have some fun with their friends as they go trick or treating.

Following are some festive recipe ideas to give your little goblins a healthy meal before the candy gorging begins. The night won’t be sugar free, so start with a nice apple cider that can be served hot or cold and finish with an old-fashioned, semi-healthy caramel apple. And don’t forget that bobbing for apples is still fun!

Finger foods are always a good idea for kids in a hurry. This first recipe is a healthier way to prepare Boneless Buffalo Wings. Try dredging marinated, boneless, skinless, chicken tenders in a combination of flour and cornmeal before pan frying. They will taste just as good as deep fried and be better for you. Pair these ‘faux’ Buffalo wings with a platter of fresh vegetables and a side of blue cheese or ranch dip. Then, steal a Snickers from the kids. Enjoy!

Witches Brew

2 quarts apple cider
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 cinnamon sticks
A few whole cloves
1/2 lemon, sliced

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer a few minutes to allow the flavor to develop. Turn off the heat and let steep in the pot for about 30 min. Discard the cinnamon sticks, cloves and lemon. To serve, keep warm on low heat or in a crock pot.

Note: The cider may be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. Double or triple recipe as needed. Reheat before serving or serve cold with ice rings decorated with candy corn.

Healthy Buffalo Wings

1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup hot sauce, divided
1/3 cup white vinegar, divided
2 pounds chicken tenders
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or seasoned salt
1/3 cup canola oil, divided

Preheat oven to low or 175° F.

Whisk buttermilk, 3 tablespoons (each) hot sauce and vinegar in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken; stir to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate up to 1 hour; stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix flour and cornmeal together in a shallow dish. Whisk remaining hot sauce and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and roll in the flour mixture until evenly coated. (Discard remaining marinade and flour.) Sprinkle both sides of chicken with cayenne (or seasoned salt).

Heat half of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 min. per side. Transfer to a paper towel lined serving platter and keep warm in oven. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken; reduce heat if necessary. Transfer to the platter. Drizzle the chicken with the reserved hot sauce and vinegar mixture or serve on the side.

Note: The amount of the sauce is a little stingy. You may wish to fix extra or if your kids don’t like spicy foods, substitute barbecue sauce or catsup. Preferably something they’ll eat.

Vegetables with Spicy Blue Cheese Dip

2/3 cup low fat sour cream
2/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Baby carrots
Celery Sticks
Other slivered veggies that kids like
Black olives

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl. Sprinkle with season salt or paprika (adds an orangey effect). Cover and refrigerate. At serving time, place the bowl of dip in the center of a serving platter. Arrange veggies around the bowl. Make a face on top of the dip with olives!

Classic Caramel Apples

6 apples
6 wooden sticks
1 (14-ounce) package caramels (unwrap individually wrapped pieces)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Briefly dip apples in boiling water (to remove wax) and dry. Insert wooden sticks 3/4 of the way into the stem end of each apple. Place apples on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.

Combine the unwrapped caramels and water in a non-stick saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until caramel melts and is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Dip each apple into the caramel and gently run around the inside of saucepan to scrape off some of the caramel. Scrape excess caramel from the bottoms using the side of the saucepan. Place on the wax paper covered pan and chill until ready to serve.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing 
a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.
Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel newspaper

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