No Tricks, Only Treats on This Menu!

October brings to mind costumes, silly games and lots of sweets. Here are some festive fall eats to warm up your little goblins, even on the chilliest of autumn evenings.

Curried Pumpkin Meatball Stew

Baked and served in a large hallowed out pumpkin, the kids will get a kick out of this recipe. They may even be distracted into eating their vegetables without complaint!

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound meatballs
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 1 (1 pound ) package frozen pearl onions
  • 4 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 large pumpkin

Step 1: Brown Meatballs
Pour oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Carefully add the meatballs; cook, turning frequently until nicely browned. Remove the meatballs to a plate.

Step 2: Start Stew
Whisk the flour into the Dutch oven; cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown. Carefully whisk in the beef broth. Stir in the meatballs, garlic, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomato paste and curry powder. Cover, reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Assemble and Bake
Cut off the top and hollow out the pumpkin as you would for Halloween carving. Take care not to scrape too deeply at the bottom, lest the cooking stew could ooze out during baking. Place the pumpkin on a shallow baking pan. Carefully pour, or ladle, the stew into the pumpkin shell, leaving about 3 inches of head space.

Cover with the pumpkin top, covering the stem with a piece of foil. Spray the pumpkin with cooking spray. Place into a 350? F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve by scooping out a bit of the pumpkin as you ladle out the stew.
Makes 6 hearty servings.

Cook’s Note: Be sure to choose a pumpkin that will stand well without tipping. Should you grab a wobbler by mistake, you can help stabilize it by crumpling a sheet of aluminum foil around the base to prop it up.

Fruit & Spice Crockpot Cider

Not your typical hot apple cider, this version is packed with a variety of sliced fruit and berries. The house will be filled with its delicious fragrance all day.

  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 (1 inch piece) ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1/2 gallon cranberry juice
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 large apple, halved, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 small lemon, sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 large seedless orange, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup honey?1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

Step 1: Assemble Spice Bag
Loosely enclose cloves, ginger and cinnamon sticks in a double thickness of cheesecloth; tie with butcher’s twine.

Step 2: Make Cider
Place spice bag, apple cider, cranberry juice, cranberries, sliced apple, lemon and orange, honey, nutmeg and allspice in a large Crockpot. Let simmer on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours. Remove and discard spice bag. Garnish as desired with cinnamon sticks and serve.
Makes 8-10 Servings.

Cook’s Note: We’ve enjoyed this cider with a variety of fruits…even dried ones like blueberries and apricots. Let your family’s taste be your guide for experimentation.

Hot Baked Pretzels

Frozen dinner roll dough makes quick work of these kid-tested favorites!

  • 6 frozen dinner roll balls, thawed but not risen
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda


  • Kosher Salt
  • Garlic Salt
  • Minced raw garlic
  • Parmesan or Asiago Cheese
  • Sesame or Poppy Seeds
  • Cinnamon Sugar

Step 1: Form Pretzels
Roll each dough ball into a long (14-16 inches) rope. Form into a pretzel shape.

Step 2: Rise Pretzels
Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Lay pretzels onto prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth; let rise for 20-45 minutes or until double in size.

Step 3: Boil Pretzels
Bring a large stockpot half full of water to a boil; stir in the baking soda. Gently lower pretzels into the water and cook for 1 minute, turning halfway through cooking. Drain on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with desired topping.

Step 4: Bake Pretzels
Place pretzels back onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 375? for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
Makes 6 pretzels.

Cook’s Note: For extra fun, provide cups of melted cheese, peanut butter or ranch dressing to dip the pretzels in after baking.

Besides her two favorite jobs of wife and mom, Michelle Ann Anderson is also a freelance writer, enjoys public speaking, writing cookbooks and sharing her love of food with those around her. You can find her blog at

Categories: Food