The autumn sky is bright blue by day, and black with clear twinkling stars by night. The sound of the rustling dried leaves make for the perfect Halloween ambiance.
It is at this time of year that our food cravings drastically change. Most of us start to crave warm, more substantial menus, with staying power, to adjust to the cooler outdoor temperatures.
It is also a busy time of year with school and community activities in full swing.
Menus need to be simple, satisfying and ready when we walk through the door. We need the aroma of an evening meal to imply, “come in, relax and enjoy.”
When my children were small, one of the biggest challenges was fitting nutrition into their busy schedules, especially on nights like Halloween, when the meal had to be really enticing to get them to eat before going out trick or treating.
Often I was running along with them and needed food that was prepared ahead of time. My go-to appliance was, and still is, the slow cooker, and the recipe that I am sharing allowed for the food to be served within minutes of arrival.
I can remember serving this dish on Halloween night, using the carved pumpkin, whose face was lit by a flicking candle, as our table centre piece. Fine dining at its best.
It is often a time when you have more company around, so I am also sharing some delectable sweets that are easy to prepare and serve.
Halloween is all about the magic of imagination, creativity, socializing and fun. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Cheesy Lasagna
Serve with a green salad and a fresh loaf of sliced bread.
- 1 lb. ground beef 454 g
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can tomato sauce 796 mL
- 1 c. water 250 mL
- 1 can tomato paste 156 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1 tsp. dried oregano 5 mL
- 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley (keep a plant in your kitchen all winter), optional 30 mL
- 9 no-cook (express) lasagna noodles
- 4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 1 L
- 1 1/2 c. 4% cottage cheese 375 mL
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese 125 mL
In a skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is no longer pink. Then add garlic and cook one minute longer. Drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt and oregano.
Spread a fourth of the prepared meat sauce into an ungreased five-quart slow cooker. Arrange three of the noodles over sauce (break to fit). Combine cheeses and spoon a third of the mixture over noodles. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce.
Cover and cook on low for four to five hours or until noodles are tender. Source: www.tasteofhome.com
Tangy squares that can be eaten with your fingers.
- 1 c. unsalted butter, softened (if you choose to use salted butter, just reduce added salt in the recipe) 250 mL
- 2 c. sugar, divided 500 mL
- 2 c. and 3 tbsp. flour, divided 545 mL
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla 2 mL
- 1 tsp. salt, divided 5 mL
- 2/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 4 to 5 small lemons 150 mL
- 2 tsp. lemon zest 10 mL
- 4 large eggs
- 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream 75 mL
- 1/4 c. icing sugar 60 mL
Line a glass 9 x 13 inch (22 X 33 cm) pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the top layer. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, half cup white sugar, two cups of flour, vanilla extract, and three-quarters teaspoon salt until well combined.
Press onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides about half-inch and then chill for 30 minutes.
After cooling for 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C), then bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
While the crust is baking, place your lemons in warm water for 10 seconds, then remove and squeeze out the juice to three-quarters cup. Remove three tablespoons of juice and set aside. Then zest a lemon to get two teaspoons. Mix the remaining sugar (1 1/2 cups) and zest.
Stir well to get the most flavour. Stir the three tablespoons lemon juice with the remaining three tablespoons of flour until smooth.
In another mixing bowl, lightly beat the four large eggs together. Add in the lemon juice along with the lemon juice and the flour mixture. Then add the sugar and zest mixture, remaining one-quarter teaspoon salt and heavy whipping cream.
Whisk until well combined and there are no lumps.
When the crust baking time is up, take out of the oven and pour lemon mix evenly over the hot crust and bake for another 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge until the lemon layer is firm.
Once set, cut into squares and sprinkle the top of the bars with icing sugar if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Source: www.chelseasmessyapron.com
Butter tart squares
A Canadian sweet that is so much easier than making tarts.
- 2 c. flour 500 mL
- 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
- 1 c. butter 250 mL
- 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled 60 mL
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 c. packed brown sugar 500 mL
- 1/4 c. flour 60 mL
- 1/4 c. corn syrup 60 mL
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder 2 mL
- 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
- 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
- 2 c. golden raisins 500 mL
- 1 c. pecans, chopped 250 mL
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a 9 X 13 inch pan with parchment paper.
To make the base, combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Using knives, a fork or a pastry cutter, then add butter and mix until crumbly. Press firmly into the baking pan, going slightly up the sides of the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just slightly golden. Remove from oven.
To make the topping, in a large bowl, stir together melted and cooled butter and eggs. Add sugar, flour, corn syrup, baking powder, vanilla and salt; stir until combined.
Fold in raisins and pecans.
Pour over base and bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the top is firm and springs back when touched.
Let cool on a rack. When cool, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours to completely set before cutting into squares. Cooling overnight is the best if time allows.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Source: www.fortheloveoftastyfood.wordpress.com
William Tell’s Never-Miss apple cake
This cake uses produce such as apples and carrots that you may have left over from your garden harvest.
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened 250 g
- 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 c. sugar 425 mL
- 1 c. oil 250 mL
- 3 large eggs
- 2 c. flour 500 mL
- 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 10 mL
- dash of nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1 mL
- 2 c. chopped and peeled apples 500 mL
- 1 c. shredded carrots 250 mL
- 1/2 c. chopped pecans 125 mL
- 1/2 c. packed brown sugar 125 mL
- 1/4 c. butter, cubed 60 mL
- 2 tbsp. milk 30 mL
- 1/2 c. icing sugar 125 mL
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla 2 mL
- 1/4 c. chopped pecans 60 mL
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour a Bundt pan.
Cream cheese mix:
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in egg.
In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into sugar mixture. Stir in apples, carrots and pecans.
Transfer half of the batter to prepared pan; layer with cream cheese mixture, then remaining batter. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cake portion comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
For icing, in a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir one minute.
Remove from heat; whisk in icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake and top with pecans.
We all have family favourite recipes that for reasons of diet, food restrictions or personal preferences we have adapted to meet these needs.
We’re asking our readers to share their adapted family favourite recipes. The contest draw will be made Dec. 2 for a basket of baking ingredients.
Please submit your adapted family favourite recipes, along with your name, address and phone number, to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail:
The Western Producer, Adapted Favourites
1000 – 3530 Millar Avenue
Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: email@example.com.