Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour
All of the little Halloween haunts are hungry
Is it still the scariest night of the year? Or, have today's kids already seen it all, on television? At least they get to dress up and visit the neighbors, so best we think up things to feed them before or after they go out "tricking and treating." 'Things' that we would like to eat, too, of course.
Casseroles are always good and so is chili and then there are pastas and eggs.
Ah, yes, and hearty soups are great on cold October nights. No problem with desserts the little tricksters can bring home their Halloween haul and share it with the family whether you have dinner before or after the doorbell ringing begins.
Doctored-Up Baked Beans
Really quick and tasty. Make coleslaw a day or two ahead and have this ready to heat up when the tricksters are heading for the table.
6 slices bacon
Cook bacon until it begins to get crisp. Save 2 tablespoons of the fat, add onion and sauté until translucent. Combine all ingredients except bacon and heat on the range or in a microwave. Just before serving lay bacon on top and simmer until hot and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.
French Lentil & Sausage Stew
If making ahead, reheat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and thinning with a bit of water, when needed.
4 tablespoons olive oil
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan until hot but not smoking. Brown sausage and transfer to a bowl. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic to pan; cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, stock, 3 1/2 cups water, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer until lentils are just tender, about 50 minutes or according to package recommendation. Return sausage to the pan; cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary. Season to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili
This is easy to make. Don't let the long list of seasonings scare you; they give the chili a complex, deep flavor. Chili is great the night you make it and even better the next day. Cornbread is a great go-along.
2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
Sour cream, sliced scallions, grated Cheddar cheese
Cook bacon, stirring until it just begins to brown. Add onion, lower heat and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic. Add beef and stir gently until it loses its raw color. Stir in spices and 1 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, and Worcestershire; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook 30 minutes. Add beans; cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste. Serve warm with toppings on the side. Makes 6 servings.
Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Crispy Crumb Topping
The secret to good macaroni and cheese is using great Cheddar cheese. Well-aged super sharp is the best. Crumb topping adds extra texture and flavor. This is fit for company....ghosts and goblins included.
3/4 pound (3 cups) elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a shallow baking dish. Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water, until still slightly hard in the center, about 7 minutes; drain. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in flour. Wisk in garlic and gradually whisk in milk, salt and cayenne. Raise heat to moderate bring to a boil, whisking until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat again. Gradually stir in cheese until melted. Whisk in mustard. Combine macaroni to cheese sauce and turn into buttered dish; sprinkle Crispy Crumb Topping over top. Dot with remaining and bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and top is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Crispy Crumb Topping
This easy topping adds a special touch to almost any gratin, baked or broiled vegetables, or to fish. With the addition of half a cup of Parmesan cheese, you can convert it into a fine stuffing for tomatoes, mushrooms, or zucchini.
4 slices of firm-textured white bread
Tear bread into pieces and place in food processor. Add next 7 ingredients. Pulse until bread is ground into coarse crumbs. Melt butter in oil; add crumb mixture and stir frequently, until crumbs are a light golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Makes about 2 cups.
Don't be frightened these recipes are foolproof!