Spooky food makes Halloween all the more fun

Among the list of casualties of COVID-19 this year is my family's annual Spooky Dinner.

For years, we've invited neighbors over to dine on dishes like mummy hot dogs, cheesy Crescent ghosts, pumpkin spice spread with bat wing dippers and chicken enchilada mummies.

Last year I outdid myself, offering a menu featuring mashed potato snakes and "feetloaf." I knew the dinner was a success when our neighbor's son, 8 at the time, looked at the bloody bone (leek with tomato sauce) and toenails (cashews) and said, "I'm not eating that!"

I am such a fan of the Spooky Dinner that I convinced my book club to have one (and substitute a showing of "Hocus Pocus" for the required reading that month). This year, with COVID-19 cases on the rise and indoor dining on the outs, I persuaded Jim to co-host a Spooky Lunch at the office. We served barbecued worm (hot dog) sandwiches, mummified meat balls and alien fingers (breaded green beans).

What I love about cooking spooky meals is the possibilities are endless. Even with all the recipes I've already made, there are still so many I want to try.

At the top of my list is a creepy skeleton charcuterie board, with prosciutto-covered cheese as the head, ribs for the torso and coiled sausage for the intestines. Disgusting!

What a treat it would be for Ainsley to wake up Halloween morning to find a cyclops eyeball on the breakfast table. Dirty rat meat loaves, zombie ziti and tarantula tacos all sound pretty fun, too.

Dessert options are equally plentiful. I've had my eyeball on the recipes for mummy head candy apples and frightful finger cookies for years.

Instead, I always seem to make the same dessert, which is light on spook, heavy on sweet. It's basically sugar, butter and chocolate held together with just enough oats and flour to create a bar.

I've printed this Betty Crocker recipe once before in my column and dedicate this re-print to my friends at Zion Lutheran Preschool, who always gobbled up these bars when I brought them to the back-to-school picnic.

Halloween Goody Bars


1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup orange and brown candy-coated chocolate candies


• Heat oven to 350°F. Spray13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

• In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and 1 cup butter with spoon. Stir in pecans. Remove 1 cup and set aside for topping. Press remaining mixture into pan.

• In a 2-quart saucepan, cook condensed milk, chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over crust. Sprinkle with candies and reserved oat mixture; press into chocolate mixture.

• Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely, about 2 1/2 hours.* Cut into 8 rows by 4 rows.

* You don't really have to wait that long if you don't mind them a little gooey. And you won't. Trust me.

-Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean