Pick Your Treat!

Halloween came and went, but not without one heck of a party.

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My annual shindig was a blast.

And this year, we had 25 people… a new record.

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As usual, I spent weeks agonizing over the menu.

I’d put notes in my phone, make lists, scour Pinterest, and scan the grocery store aisles.

Every time I came up with an idea I loved, I made a change to the ones I already had.

The heck with the horror movies and the thoughts of ghosts. Planning the party is the scariest part of Halloween for me.

I want the food to be a hit. I mean, most of the guests drove 35 minutes or more, and put a lot of thought into their costumes.

We had a Sharknado (can you believe it?), a millionaire turned meth addict (how timely!), and 2 versions of our favorite television insurance saleswoman. I couldn’t let these people down with a less than stellar spread.

My dear friend and fake meth addict, Carla, brought two slow cookers filled with chili (spicy and mild) and her famous rosemary-cranberry chicken salad cups.

To that, I added:

Inside Out Pimento Cheese
Donut Burger Pops (Krispy Kreme donut holes w/your favorite grilled burger recipe)

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Mini Chicken & Waffles with Maple Honey Mustard (Mini Eggos topped with baked spiced panko-coated chicken)

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Inside Out Greek Pasta Salad (Jumbo pasta shells, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoni, red onion, feta, vinaigrette)

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Pumpkin Hummus
Traditional Onion Dip (Lipton dip mix. My family has this all the time. Brings me back to my childhood.)
Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Pyramid Salt

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Bourbon Chocolate Pudding Topped with Bacon
Redrum (Get it? Murder spelled backwards from The Shining?) Jell-O Shots (cherry Jell-O and lime rum)

The Inside Out Pimento Cheese seemed to be the biggest hit.

Here’s how I did it:

16 oz. extra-sharp cheddar
16 oz. mile cheddar
8 oz. softened cream cheese
¾ cup mayo
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt
3 jars of sweet cherry peppers (approximately 40 peppers), drained
4 slices of bacon, cooked

Grate the cheese by hand or shred it in a food processor.

Use a mixer to combine it with the mayo, cream cheese, spices, Worcestershire, and salt.

Using a paring knife, cut out the stem from each cherry pepper. Then, use your finger to scoop out the seeds. This is a tedious task, I won’t lie. I tore the peppers in most cases.

Truth be told, you can find the peppers already prepared in the olive bar at The Fresh Market.

Once the peppers are prepared, use a piping bag or corner-less re-sealable bag to fill each pepper with the cheese mixture.

Top each stuffed pepper with a shard of crispy bacon. Serve at room temperature, otherwise the cheese will be hard.

I call this Inside Out Pimento Cheese, because there are no peppers IN the cheese. The pimento is the cup holding the cheese.

When you bite into the pepper it practically bursts. I mean that in terms of texture and flavor. The cherry pepper is briny, a tad bit spicy, and the cheese is rich and creamy. I think it’s the perfect combination.

The bacon adds a salty, smoky flavor, and a bit of a crunch.

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Other recipes:

Pumpkin Hummus

2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can of pumpkin puree
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne
¼ cup sesame seeds
Salt

Combine everything in a blender and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. I used my Vitamix, which pulverizes the sesame seeds. You may need to add a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil to get the mixture to move around. You can also do this in a food processor.

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Bourbon Chocolate Pudding

1 3.9 ounce box of instant pudding
¼ cup bourbon
1 ¾ cup milk
4 slices of bacon, cooked

Combine the bourbon and the milk. Stir it into the pudding powder according to the instructions on the box.
I portioned it out into little Jell-O shot cups and topped each one with Cool Whip. Let them set up in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Serve each cup topped with a large shard of bacon.

This recipe can easily be doubled.

There’s not a strong bourbon flavor. You can definitely taste it, though. It really pairs well with the chocolate and the bacon, and it kinda makes your tongue tingle.

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If you don’t like alcohol, try pulp-free orange juice or cherry juice. It just adds a little something extra.

I really do enjoy making party food. Bite-sized portions look so fun and sophisticated.

And for the the first time, I didn’t have anything leftover! That’s a good sign. Right?

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I’m already planning next year’s party. Of course, I’ll change my menu mind 5,000 times before then.

Tip: Start buying your party supplies right after the holiday is over. After this Halloween I got napkins for 39 cents per pack. That saved me a few bucks that can go toward next year’s food or costume.

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