Getting your kids to eat a semi-healthy dinner on Halloween night is parenting at the black-belt level.
The pre-trick-or-treating adrenaline, the excitement over costumes, the fever lust of all that candy: It's hard enough to get the kids to stop bouncing, let alone consume broccoli.
Your only hope is to make dinner fun.
A few years ago, I started making mummy dogs for my kids on Halloween night. They aren't exactly clean food, but they are ridiculously easy and kid-friendly. And it's easy to pair them with healthy sides like baby carrots, apple slices and milk (colored orange, of course).
Until last year.
Last Halloween, my kids suddenly decided they don't like hot dogs. (To be fair, they've never been huge fans.) And they claimed the crescent dough tasted "weird." (To be fair, it does.)
So this year, I'm making what my Mom used to make for Halloween dinner: tiny meat pies topped with cheese cut-outs that look like Jack O' Lanterns.
I've got both recipes below. Take your pick. Make it fun. Serve a few healthy sides. And then let the kids go crazy with candy, guilt-free. Halloween comes only once a year.
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 package hot dogs
1. Pop the can of crescent rolls. Scream. Roll out the dough and use your fingers to seal the perforations.
2. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into long, thin ropes.
3. Wrap the dough lines around the hot dogs. Overlap and will and pinch to add a new rope onto an existing mummy. Make a small part in the ropes to let the mummy have a face.
4. Bake according to the dough directions; usually 15 minutes or so in a 375 oven.
5. Use mustard to make dots for eyes.
1. My kids loathe mustard (weirdos) so I used black decorating gel one year to make eyes. Whatever works, you know what I'm saying?
2. If you're thinking, "that is the lamest recipe ever," you're right. But it really is that simple.
Jack O' Lantern Meat Pies
1 12-ounce can refrigerated biscuits (or homemade biscuit dough)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 cup grated carrot
8-10 slices of American cheese (or cheddar)
To make the pie cups:
1. Pop open the can of biscuits. Scream. Flatten the rounds slightly, until they have about a 4-inch diameter. Grease the underside of a muffin tin and spread the biscuits over the bottoms of the cups. Bake according to directions or until cups are just turning brown. Remove from muffin tin and let cool while you make the filling.
To make the filling (is there an echo in here?):
1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and diced onion until no pink remains and the onions are translucent.
2. Add remaining ingredients and let the mixture simmer until it reaches sloppy joe consistency, about 20 minutes.
3. Place biscuit cups on a baking sheet. Fill with the meat mixture.
4. Using a sharp knife or a biscuit cutter, cut a circle out of each slice of cheese. Cut out small triangles for eyes and a goofy mouth to make a Jack O' Lantern face. Top each meat pie with a cheese pumpkin.
5. Bake meat pies for 3-5 minutes in a 400 degree oven or just enough time to melt cheese.
1. Feel free to get creative with the Jack O' Lanterns.
2. I've heard some people add the cheese leftovers to the meat mixture so they don't waste the scraps. Interesting idea.
3. Theoretically, you could serve these pies to adults for dinner as well. Or you could make a bit more meat mixture and serve it on buns as sloppy joes. I've never tried that, but it seems reasonable.
If you're looking for other fun Halloween fare, check my Boo! board on Pinterest.