Matthew Mead, Associated Press
Party food is supposed to be easy. You are, after all, having a party to have a good time, right?
That's why we assembled these easy Halloween party dishes. Not only are they simple to assemble, they also require little planning and help keep the mood light and festive.
We started off with the dip. It's nice if not everything on Halloween revolves around sugar. Equally at home with a platter of vegetables or chips and pretzels, this avocado and cream cheese-based dip will appeal to kids and adults. Plus, Halloween is one of the few times of the year where food doesn't need to look pretty.
For something bready, we went with frozen puff pastry formed into "bones." Puff pastry is a cinch to work with. You'll find it in the grocer's freezer section. Each package contains two sheets. Simply thaw according to package directions, then unfold, slice, season and bake. And feel free to play around with the spices we suggest, swapping in Italian seasoning, chili powder or even curry powder for the Old Bay seasoning.
For a sweet touch, we went with pots of dirt. Or rather, peanut butter and hot fudge blended with a few other tasty ingredients to resemble dirt.
CREAMY SWAMP DIP
Start to finish: 10 minutes
3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup chopped Peppadew peppers
1/4 cup chopped marinated mushrooms
Salt and ground black pepper
In a food processor, combine the avocados, cream cheese and balsamic vinegar. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, then mix in the olives, Pappadews and marinated mushrooms. Season with salt and black pepper. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the dip.
Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories; 100 calories from fat (83 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (4 g saturated;0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 2 g protein; 85 mg sodium.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
Heat the oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spritz lightly with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan with the Old Bay seasoning.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold 1 sheet of the puff pastry. Very lightly moisten the surface of the pastry with water. Sprinkle half the Parmesan mixture over it. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips. One at a time, grab each strip by its ends and twist once or twice to create a spiral. Arrange the strips on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch between them.
Repeat the process with the second sheet of pastry and remaining Parmesan mixture.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories; 110 calories from fat (61 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 4 g protein; 410 mg sodium.
POTS OF MUD
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup hot fudge sauce
4 to 6 tablespoons half-and-half
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
Pretzels, crisp bread sticks and cookie sticks
In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, hot fudge sauce, half-and-half (more or less depending on desired consistency), and graham cracker crumbs. Spoon into small cups, such as shot glasses, and serve with pretzels, bread sticks and cookie sticks for dipping.
Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories; 110 calories from fat (61 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 6 g protein; 135 mg sodium.
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