Halloween Family Dinner Recipes


I could not be happier this week! Last week of October and all fellow Scorpios may be celebrating their birthdays like I am, as well as Halloween into the early days of November! I truly enjoy what I do and like to share it with whoever I can. There is no question that there are days that I am frustrated or get into a jam and need help but what I like most is that I learn from all that. It is that learning curve that I got to share with students at George Brown College last week in their food writing course. Their instructor, Kelly Jones, had asked me to be a guest speaker and tell them about my career. I truly haven’t had a really long career; I like to think that I’m still working on that part. But any information I can pass along to help up and comers get to do what they enjoy or be a part of it all, I really want to help.
I myself, like most had some help from mentors along the way and I now happily call them close friends that I still share time and thoughts with. I had the opportunity to tell these students about my dream of owning a restaurant originally when I was working in restaurants but then quickly I came to realize that I didn’t have the money and didn’t want to go bankrupt-restaurant ownership can be very scary and difficult. So I knew I wanted to work with food but wasn’t quite sure what I could do, my leap of faith took me from London, Ontario to Toronto when I started working at Canadian Living Magazine’s test kitchen and with Bonnie Stern at her cooking school. From that early start, I began an interest in something I had no idea I could do or be interested in. That has become my career and many young food writers and recipe developers are interested to know the path that got me to here. I have a tendency to talk and go on, which I had warned them all in the class. So I felt compelled to create a little assignment for them, should they of course choose to do it. My worry of course was would they and if they did, could I incorporate it into a column? Well surely I thought Halloween would interest them and my assignment to them was to create a recipe that would help parents put dinner on the table before getting the kids out the door to get those treats they’ve been waiting all year for!
To my surprise and happiness, I received 2 recipes from 2 different students. One from Mike and the other from Rosie, both showed interest in the recipe development process and creating delicious recipes for people. I was elated to try the recipes and then share them with you. (I had told them in the class that if I used them they would become my column for the week of Halloween.)
I think the true spirit of Halloween is in these recipes. And what is that spirit? Fun, somewhat spooky and in this case-getting dinner on the table! I made these for my family and also got friends to taste them. A true taste test! I am happy to announce that they were big hits! I can’t wait to let Mike and Rosie know. Now as a true recipe tester I did make some changes, so I hope they don’t mind (very minor) but I think it makes both recipes stand out even more and makes them easy to make for your family. Showcasing these recipes after my little talk at George Brown makes me happy I am able to do what I do and also share it with others. I wish these students all the best and I hope they continue to follow their passions and have a great Halloween!
And I didn’t forget dessert! My son, Nicolas and daughter Adriana along with friend Jessie, enjoy tasty sweet treats too, so after these yummy dinner recipes try out some fun squares and cookies from my website http://www.emilyrichardscooks.ca/ to share with friends and family.
Blistered Cheeseburger Pizza
Combining two childhood favourites (and adults alike) pizza and cheeseburgers come together to create a meal sure to please. I confirmed that easily when my friend Ben, 11 said “the pizza was so delicious, the meat was awesome and the crust was to die for!” My son, Matthew confirmed it as did all the adults who nibbled away at the pizza too. The grape tomatoes get wrinkly while baking and turn into “blisters” on this hearty chock full of meat pizza.

1 lb (500 g) extra lean ground beef, chicken or turkey
1 small onion, finely diced
½ tsp (2 mL) each dried oregano leaves and salt
1 bag (680 g) store-bought pizza dough
½ cup (125 mL) ketchup
½ cup (125 mL) halved grape tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) shredded white or orange cheddar cheese

In large nonstick skillet, cook beef, onion, oregano and salt, breaking up with spoon for about 8 minutes or until no longer pink.

On lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough to fit a 14 inch (35 cm) pizza pan. Place on greased pizza pan and spread with ketchup. Sprinkle meat mixture evenly over top. Place tomatoes on top and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in centre of 450 F (235 C) oven, for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden and crisp and cheese is melted and tomatoes are wrinkly.

Makes 8 slices.

Tips:
Substitute store-bought pizza crust for the dough. Simply follow the recipe and reduce baking time to about 12 minutes.

I like to use perforated pizza pans to make pizza. The holes in the pans help to create a crispy crust. If you have a pizza stone you could use that as well.

Get your imagination going; add other creepy favourites to your pizza like hot pepper rings or slithery anchovies. A surefire way to keep the goblins away from your dinner!

Ghostly Chicken Pie
Having a fun dinner especially for Halloween seems most appropriate. Taking a little time to create your ghosts will get you oohs and ahhs at the table. I couldn’t have put it better than what Julia H. said “the ghost pot pie thing was great! 10/10!”

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 each carrot and stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp (2 mL) dried thyme leaves
¼ tsp (1 mL) dried rosemary leaves
¼ tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper
3 tbsp (45 mL) all purpose flour
2 cups (500 mL) chicken stock
½ cup (125 mL) 35% whipping cream
4 cups (1 L) chopped cooked chicken
2 cups (500 mL) cooked chopped broccoli
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley or coriander (optional)
Black olive pieces (optional)

Potato Ghosts:
2 lbs (1 kg) yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
½ cup (125 mL) 35% whipping cream
Salt to taste

Potato Ghosts: In large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes for about 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and return to pot. Mash potatoes with butter and cream until very smooth. Stir in salt to taste.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large deep skillet over medium heat and cook leek, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, stirring often for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add flour and cook for 1 minute to coat well. Add stock and cream and stir until well combined. Bring to a gently boil and cook for about 3 minutes stirring until thickened. Add chicken, broccoli and parsley and stir until well moistened and hot.

Scrape into shallow 10 cup (2.5 L) casserole dish and dollop mashed potatoes on top and shape into “ghosts”. Place olive pieces in for eyes if desired. Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tips: Use a rotisserie chicken that you can pick up at the grocery store for the chicken. 1 chicken once the bones and skin are removed will give you about 4 cups (1 L) of chopped chicken. Or use leftover turkey or chicken for the dish.

Make the pot pie 1 day ahead and refrigerate it. Then once you come home, cover it and bake for about 45 minutes or until it is hot in the centre and bubbling around the edges.

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