Jennifer Ruple

The internet is packed with creative food ideas for Halloween parties. Some are a frightful delight. And then there are others that are just downright creepy, quite possibly requiring a few shots of something devilishly strong to even consider eating.
This Halloween don’t scare your guests with ghoulish fare, treat them to these G-rated eats approved for all ages.
Get the party started with a Graveyard Veggie Pizza. It’s chock full of colorful vegetables which lie on a bed of rich and tangy ranch dip.
Wickedly cute Taco Stuffed Jack-o’-lanterns are perfect when there’s no time to fix dinner before the kiddos head out for the evening. Assemble them the night before, then pop them in the oven while everyone’s getting into costume.
And finally, Pumpkin Patch Dirt Cups let your guests play with their food and in the dirt.
Happy Halloween from my haunted kitchen to yours.

Graveyard Veggie Pizza
Tip toe through the graveyard at night with this hearty appetizer. It’s filling and can serve a ghostly crowd. The recipe also works well with reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream.
12 servings
1 can Pillsbury Pizza Crust
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened, reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 envelope creamy dill ranch dip mix
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 jar pimientos, drained
4-ounce can black olives, drained
Crackers for garnish

Heat oven to 400 F. Unroll pizza crust and spread on a greased baking sheet. Bake 11-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream and ranch mix.
In another bowl, combine carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, pimientos and black olives.

Spread ranch mixture over cooled pizza crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over ranch mixture. Top with veggies.

For the tombstones, combine 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Spoon mixture into a plastic bag. Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe “RIP” onto crackers. Insert crackers into pizza. Refrigerate until serving.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Taco Stuffed Jack-o’-lanterns
This twist on tacos substitutes fresh bell peppers for taco shells. Stuffed with spicy beef, black beans and brown rice, these jack-o’-lanterns will fill up your little goblins and give them the energy needed for haunting your neighborhood.
4 servings
4 orange bell peppers
1 pound ground round
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice
15-ounce can black beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Heat oven to 350 F. Wash peppers. Slice off the tops and set them aside. Scoop out seeds and ribs. With a paring knife, carve jack-o’-lantern faces into the sides of peppers. Set aside.
In a large skillet, cook beef and onions until beef is no longer pink. Drain.
In the same skillet, heat oil over medium and cook garlic 1 to 2 minutes. Return beef mixture to skillet. Stir in cooked rice, drained black beans, chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over mixture and fold in.
Fill carved peppers with beef mixture. Place tops back on.
Place peppers, standing up in a glass baking dish. Add a 1/2 cup of water to the dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until peppers are soft.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Pumpkin Patch Dirt Cups
Layers of rich chocolate pudding and Oreo crumbs are combined and presented in single-serving cups. They’re a perfect party finale.
8 servings
1 family size box instant chocolate pudding
3 cups milk
1 package Oreos
Pumpkin candies
8 clear cups

Prepare the pudding according to package directions.
In a food processer, process the Oreos until smooth.
In each cup, layer Oreo crumbs and chocolate pudding. Repeat.
Top with three pumpkin candies.
(Recipe adapted from icanteachmychild.com)