Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Jack O’ Lantern Grilled Cheese #KidsCookMonday

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

This was intended to be a quick post about a healthy and fun pre-Halloween lunch, but of course my six-year-old had other plans. Oh, he was amused enough by the first sandwich, but then he asked for a second. And then he said it wasn’t scary enough. So I told him the jack o’ lantern was saying “Boo!” — to which he replied that he needed to see the word bubble to believe it. You can see how that went below…

Jack O' Lantern Grilled Cheese

First, though, the recipe — though it’s pretty simple. Whole wheat sandwich bread, a touch of pumpkin butter, and a blend of shredded cheese. A large pumpkin cookie cutter shapes the sandwich, and small cookie cutters are used to cut out the face. The cheese does ooze through while cooking, though, so the face won’t look quite so perfect when you’re done. *I* think that adds to the charm, but it depends how tough your critics are…

Recipe: Jack O’Lantern Pumpkin Grilled Cheese
Makes 4 sandwiches


  • 8 slices wheat bread
  • butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and gouda)
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin butter


  1. Cut bread into pumpkin shape. Use small cookie cutters to cut out a face in four of the slices.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium low heat.
  3. Spread 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin butter on the bottom slice of bread and place in pan. Cover with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and the face side of bread. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until golden bread. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.

Note: Straight pumpkin puree can be substituted for the pumpkin butter — a good way to use up any leftover puree after baking.

And, as promised, here’s my first “Boo!”…

pumpkin grilled cheese sandwich

… but he said it had to be ON THE PUMPKIN to count. No pressure or anything.

halloween grilled cheese sandwich

Needless to say, next time he’ll be in charge of “carving” his own sandwich. 😉

Switch Witch or Halloween Grinch?

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

candy junkie

So, I’ve read numerous posts and articles on how to deal with the Halloween-induced sugar craze, and haven’t weighed in because I wasn’t sure how I planned to handle it this year. It was so easy the first year, when we took the boy across the street to a neighbor’s house, he got one Reeses, ate it and went to bed. Those were the days. It didn’t take long for him to catch on to trick-or-treating, though, and last year he left no door unknocked in his quest for more candy. And of course, it’s not just one night — this is our second consecutive 3-day weekend of Halloween festivities. (Yes, part of that was our own doing, but I served healthy snacks at that one too!) At first, I was leaning towards trying the “Switch Witch” idea this year, letting the boy select 10 pieces of candy and then leave the rest out for the “Witch” to take and leave a toy. (I called it the Halloween Fairy to make it sound less scary; I’ve since heard it called the “Pumpkin Fairy” too.) He reacted angrily at first, but I kept dropping casual mentions of it. He still seemed unconvinced. And frankly, he’s rather spoiled in the toy department so I wasn’t crazy about escalating Halloween to another gift-demanding day.

While I would prefer he eat nothing but fair-trade (not Nestle) chocolates and Yummy Earth organic lollipops, the thing about Halloween is that you can’t really control what candy comes into the house.* And as I grew up in a sugar-banning household, I want to avoid creating a child who swings to the other extreme when he leaves the house. I don’t want the candy to be some mystical magical thing that he lusts after all year long. I finally started to think the best approach would be to let him eat all the candy he wants this weekend and if he made himself sick, maybe that would cure him of the cravings for a while. We talked about healthy food vs. junk food again Friday afternoon, and how if we’re going to eat sweets we have to have a healthy breakfast first. I stocked up on broccoli (his favorite vegetable — really!) and apples at the market. I don’t know if it’s the best approach, but I don’t want to turn it into yet another subject of whining, bargaining and tantrums. So we’re embracing the sugar for the weekend, and bracing for the sugar crash Monday.

Here’s a preview of what’s in store … and note, this performance is before he’d even eaten the cotton candy. (Click image to watch the video.)

Happy Halloween, y’all — whether yours is artificially sweetened or all natural. 😉

*We’re fortunate that, aside from a little hyperactivity, we don’t have any allergy or other health issues with candies. I feel for those parents who have to be more vigorous in their monitoring of the candy haul.

Kooky Spooky Halloween Party Treats

Friday, October 29th, 2010

What do you get when you combine four 4-year-olds, Halloween costumes, and make-your-own popcorn ball Jack o’Lanterns? Sweet, sticky fun! With a small dash of chaos. 😉

Kids Halloween Luncheon Menu

  • nuts & dried cranberries
  • “Goblins” on a Log
  • Monster (Carrot) Fingers
  • “Pumpkin” Grilled Cheese
  • local Apple Cider

It was a beautiful day, but cooperation for organized games was a little lacking … we managed the pillow case race and one round of the “pumpkin walk” before the kids ran back inside to play.

The party centerpiece — White Chocolate Seckel Pear Ghosts — doubled as party favors, and we decorated popcorn ball Jack o’Lanterns before wrapping up with the boy’s favorite Halloween show: Word World’s “Kooky Spooky Halloween” (we <3 PBS Kids!). So much fun!

Recipe: Popcorn Balls


  • a large bowl of plain, air-popped popcorn (about 8 cups)
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch salt
  • to decorate: white chocolate candies, candy corn, gummy worms &/or licorice ropes.

Instructions: In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When completely melted, stir in salt and marshmallows, stirring to coat marshmallows with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted into a smooth liquid. Remove from heat. Pour melted marshmallow over popcorn, stirring with nonstick spray-coated wooden spoons until thoroughly combined. Oil hands, then grab a large handful and roll into a ball. Set on wax or parchment paper and let rest.

To make Jack o’Lanterns: Melt a small piece of white chocolate bark. Provide kids each a small assortment of candy (candy corn, gummy worms, etc.), a popsicle stick and a little bowl of melted white chocolate. Have them use the popsicle stick to apply the white chocolate “glue” and attach candies.

Makes 8 balls. Wrap uneaten balls in plastic wrap, but they’re best eaten the same day you make them. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

apples, raisins, pepitas and peanut butter

A Greener Jack o’ Lantern

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

There are many ways to have a green Halloween, from making your own eco-friendly decorations to handing out fair-trade Endangered Species chocolates to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Here are three steps to greening your Halloween Jack o’ Lantern.

3 Steps to a Green Jack o’ Lantern

1. Buy a locally-grown pumpkin. Just like with the food we eat, buying locally-grown pumpkins supports the local economy and the environment, especially if you can find an organic pumpkin patch. Many small family farmers depend on their Halloween pumpkin patch festivities to supplement their normal farm income. Some farms have rather over-the-top festivals with rides, bouncy pumpkins, corn mazes and more, which are of course great for entertaining your kids, too. Remember to buy extra, smaller pumpkins for eating (see step 3).

2. Use non-toxic soy or beeswax candles. Parrafin wax, which most candles are now made from, is derived from petroleum and emits carcinogens when burned — producing some of the same toxins as burning diesel fuel (contributing to indoor air pollution), while the artificial fragrances can irritate asthma and allergies. Soy candles are cleaner burning and often use natural fragrances if any, while old-fashioned beeswax candles are the purist choice and are also clean-burning and drip-free. I found beeswax votives and tea lights at a local home goods store, Bungalow. The Big Green Purse has links to a few other places to find soy or beeswax candles.

3. Eat your pumpkins! Many farmers sell smaller sugar pumpkins, or other varieties, which are ideal for cooking. The green pumpkin pictured above is a Cushaw pumpkin, a traditional pie variety. Large carving pumpkins have rather tough meat, but of course you can still roast the seeds. To make your own pumpkin puree, bake the whole pumpkin at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Allow it to cool, then peel, remove the goop (reserving the seeds for roasting), and mash or blend the pulp until smooth. You can freeze the pulp for later use, and simply use it in your favorite recipes in place of canned pumpkin. (Avoiding that BPA-lining in canned foods.)

For more ideas, visit Green Halloween, Nature MomsEco-Friendly Halloween, or Green Me’s list of HFCS-free Halloween treats. And if you really want to shock your friends, check out these anti-environment costume ideas.