The Main Menu: A trio of recipes to help celebrate Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, and Witches Brew Chili is on the menu.


Of course, the big excitement for October (once Thanksgiving is over!) is, as most children will tell you, – Halloween!

Certainly, judging by houses decorated with witches, ghosts and goblins, costumes and treats for sale, not to mention the magic symbol, pumpkins everywhere, Halloween has become a major event.

And there is food to match!

Thus, a streamlined menu to help you over a busy all Hallows Eve!

Witches Brew Chili

Super- fast to make, this recipe can be ready in minutes and served in mugs if getting out the door is essential.

You can make any number of substitutions as your individual situation requires (see notes with recipe). If you require a vegetarian version, delete the ground meat and add an extra can of beans.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a piece of cornbread. Recipe follows:

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
1 lb (500 mL) ground beef, chicken OR turkey (delete for vegetarian version)
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp (10 mL) ground chili powder
1 tsp EACH, ground cumin and dried oregano
1 can (28 oz/796 mL diced tomatoes with juice
2 or 3 cans (each 19 oz/540 mL) assorted beans such as: chickpeas, kidney, black, drained and rinsed
1 sweet pepper, green, red, yellow OR orange
You can also add some mushrooms, celery or zucchini if you want extra vegetables
1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) EACH, salt and ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
1/4 cup (50mL) chopped fresh coriander (if time permits)

In large saucepan add oil; stir in meat (if cooking) breaking up with spoon over medium high heat until lightly brown. Add onions, garlic, chili, cumin and oregano.

Cook about 1 minute, stir in tomatoes and juice, beans, peppers, any other vegetables you wish to add, vinegar, salt, cinnamon and pepper.

Bring to boil; Reduce heat to medium -low; simmer about 20 minutes.

If time permits, stir in coriander.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.Chili can be made up to 2 days ahead, kept covered and refrigerated.

Store in plastic containers and freeze for up to 1 month.

Mooncake (Cornbread)

Baked in a round pan, this yellow bread with a sprinkling of cheese resembles the moon – perfect fare for witches!

1/2 cup (125 ml) soft butter
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal
1 cup ((250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) EACH, baking soda and baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C. Line a 9-inch (23 cm round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl using electric mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg until creamy.

In separate bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In measuring cup stir together milk and yogurt. Grate cheese; set aside.

Beat dry ingredients into creamed ingredients alternately with liquid just until moistened; stir in half the cheese.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until firm to touch. Cool on rack. Cut into wedges to serve warm or at room temperature. B
est made and served the same day.

Devilishly Good and Spicy Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins have become a favourite over the past year. They have a generous amount of spice to make them zesty with a moist texture to tempt tastebuds.

They make a big batch which freeze well to pack for lunches or use as a Halloween treat.

2 cups (500 mL unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 cups (500 mL) brown sugar, lightly measured
1 cup (250 mL) melted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) apple cider or apple juice
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) EACH, baking powder and baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 1/2 tbsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp (7 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cloves
1 cup (250 mL) raisins, currants, or craisins


24 pecan halves (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C) Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

Stir the pumpkin, sugar, and butter together in a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is smooth; stir in the cider.

In separate bowl, combine flour baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and the cloves.

Gradually stir flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.

Fold in raisins until evenly distributed.

Spoon batter into muffin cups almost to the top and centre a pecan half in the middle of each.

Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

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