On the hunt for inspired Halloween treats

Jennifer Mastroianni

Who could forget witches’ fingers? You remember those scrumptious creepy cookie fingers, complete with pointy fingernails, that took the country by storm years ago. All these years later, their popularity has not waned a bit.

With holiday parties soon to be in full force, I’ve been on the prowl for this year’s great treat recipes. In the last few weeks, I’ve scoured hundreds of pages of fall lifestyle magazines looking for the most inspired recipes.

What did I discover? Not much. This year, stellar ideas seem to be as scarce as bikini-clad vampires at the beach. Oh, there was no shortage of spooky-inspired edibles. Just not many that would make you say, “Wow, I’m definitely making these!”

Some recipes were cute, but not family-friendly enough. As in, fondant goblins look adorable, but how many kids actually like eating the stiff frosting?

Other magazines rehashed old ideas, such as witch’s fingers (dyed green) and doughnut eyeballs. Some just gave ghoulish names to regular food, such as “Bloody Brains” for everyday salsa.

A few magazine editors forgot that sometimes the illusion can be taken too far. Case in point: Pillsbury’s “Skewered Worms.” Thin strips of flank steak threaded on skewers acually resemble brown tapeworms on sticks. Frightening.

And nauseating.

Some publishers overlooked the fact that most of us are neither Martha Stewart nor Ty Pennington. We don’t want kitchen crafts that require a toolbox, such as the spooky tree fashioned from black licorice, steel wire, a wooden dowel, foam core, a glue gun and wire snips.

Instead, we want Halloween recipes that are simple, clever and fun. I’ll admit the three I found are not necessarily showstoppers, but they were the best of the bunch: Yummy Mummy Cookies from Pillsbury’s Halloween booklet, Tasty Critters from Taste of Home Party Favorites, and Salty Bones from Family Fun.

In defense of all the magazines I checked out, what they lacked in edible treats they made up in terrific craft ideas. So if you are looking for cute Halloweeen decoration ideas, hit newsstands soon. If you found a great recipe idea you would like to share, visit my blog, Chew the Fat, at


1 tube refrigerated breadsticks

8 smoked sausage links or hot dogs

1/2 to 3/4 cup potato sticks

Ketchup and mustard

Separate dough into strips. Unroll and cut eight strips in half widthwise; set remaining strips aside. Cut sausages or hot dogs in half widthwise. Wrap one piece of dough around each sausage, leaving the rounded edge showing. Place seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Place reserved breadsticks on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove bugs to serving plate and cool 2 minutes.

Insert potato sticks into baked dough to resemble legs and antennae. Decorate with ketchup and/or mustard for eyes and spots. Serve warm. Save breadsticks for another use.

— Taste of Home


1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

64 miniature chocolate chips

1 cup white vanilla baking chips

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour; beat on low speed until dough forms. Roll dough into ball. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 to 45 minutes for easier handling.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each piece into rope 14 inches long. Cut each rope into 4 (3-inch) and 4 (1/2-inch) lengths of dough. Roll the 4 (1/2-inch) pieces into balls and attach to 4 (3-inch) pieces as heads.

On ungreased cookie sheet, place 1 inch apart. Press 2 chocolate chips, point sides down, in each mummy head for eyes.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until very light golden brown and tops are set. Immediately remove from sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 mintues.

In small resealable freezer plastic bag, place vanilla chips; seal bag. Microwave on high for 40 to 60 seconds or until softened. Gently squeeze bag until chips are smooth; cut off tiny corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle frosting in a crisscross pattern over cookies to look like mummy bandages.

Let stand until set, about 20 mintues. After they set up, they can easily be stacked. Can be made ahead of time and frozen. Cover tightly before frozen. Makes 32.

— Pillsbury


1 tube of refrigerated breadstick dough (an 11-ounce tube makes 12 bones)

Coarse salt

Unroll a tube of refrigerated breadstick dough and separate the rectangular pieces. Working with one piece at a time, stretch the dough to lengthen it a bit and then use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut a 11/2-inch slit in the center of each end. Roll or shape the resulting four flaps of dough into knobs that look like the ends of a bone.

Place dough bones on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them a few inches apart, and sprinkle on a little coarse salt. Bake the bones according to package directions, or until they are light golden brown, about 12 minutes.

— Family Fun Magazine