Here’s a few more Halloween-inspired recipes for you to try out.  These fun, easy recipes are also great throughout the fall and winter.  I especially like the first one, named after a character in one of my favorite horror books, It by Stephen King.

Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta

Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta courtesy Rachel Ray

1 lb whole wheat penne

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 -4 garlic cloves, grated

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

15 oz pumpkin puree

1/2 cup heavy  cream

1 tsp hot sauce

freshly grated nutmeg

2 pinches ground cinnamon

salt and black pepper

7-8 leaves fresh sage, thinly slice, plus more for garnish

grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook penne in a pot of salted boiling water, until it’s al dente (al dente means the pasta will be firm, but not hard).

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken stock; then add pumpkin and heavy cream, stirring to combine.  Season with hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes more to thicken the sauce.  Stir in the sage, pour over the pasta and toss.  Top with grated Parmigiano to taste.  Garnish with sage leaves.

Steak Bites with Bloody Mary Dipping Sauce

Steak Bites with Bloody Mary Dipping Sauce courtesy Rachel Ray

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup vodka

2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

2 tsp hot pepper sauce

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp horseradish

salt and pepper

1 1/3 lb beef sirloin cut into large bite-sized pieces (1″ x 2″)

Coarse salt and black pepper

6 to 8″ bamboo skewers

Heat a small saucepan  over medium heat.  Add oil and onions and saute 5 minutes.  Add vodka and reduce by half.  Add Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and horseradish.  Stir to combine and return the sauce to a slight bubble.  Add salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings if needed. 

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat.  Coat meat bites lightly in oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the meat until caramelized all over, about 2 minutes each side.   Transfer the dipping sauce to a small dish and place at the center of a serving platter.  Surround the sauce with meat bites and set several bamboo skewers alongside the meat.

Jack O’Lantern Stew

Jack O'Lantern Stew courtesy of Dawn Bergner

1 (9-12″) pumpkin

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, cored, seeded and diced

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and diced

4 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds

3 celery sticks, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 lb ground turkey

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can tomato soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the inside.  Rinse well.  Carve a spooky face onto the pumpkin, but don’t go all the way through the flesh.  Rinse well then oil the outside of the pumpkin.  Bake the pumpkin shell for 30 minutes on a baking sheet.

While the shell is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add olive oil (2 turns of the pan).  Add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, brown the ground turkey.  Add salt and pepper to season.  Add the vegetables back into the pan as well as the cooked brown rice.  Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10-12 minutes to combine all the flavors.  Stir in the tomatoes and soup.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before filling with the turkey mixture.  After the pumpkin has been filled with the turkey mixture, return to the oven for 20 minutes.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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