halloween dinnerHalloween – a night for frights. Kids love it; parents mostly seem to love to hate it, but I guarantee if you throw yourself into the festivities with a Halloween-inspired open house, the whole evening will be a lot more fun for grown-ups too. Just don’t let dinner be ghoulishly absent from your evening. Going out into the dark on an empty stomach isn’t a smart move for anyone with a large bag of candy in his or her hand.

The key is to keep things simple, that frees you up from the kitchen and give everyone something they can enjoy. Dinner should be:

1) easy and quick to eat, as everyone’s always in such a rush on this particular night, as we know,
2) warming, to beat that Halloween chill, and
3) healthy – because things are only going to go in the other direction as the night wears on.

Try this Halloween-inspired Turkey Pumpkin Chili – it’s easy to prepare earlier in the day and makes a stunning dish served inside a sugar pumpkin that doubles up as a lidded crockpot to keep things nice and warm. The addition of pumpkin gives it a nice velvety texture and big nutritional bonus from the added pumpkin, an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and Dietary Fiber, makes this a crowd pleaser. Offer a selection of toppings – grated cheese, sour cream, salsa and some warm cheesy muffins to mop up all that great sauce. To make things even easier, provide paper deli soup containers that people can either eat from or take with them into the cool night air.

So, get out that box of decorations, open up some wine, and make it a night that everyone will enjoy.

Turkey-Pumpkin Chili – serves 8
(adapted from a recipe from Whole Foods Market)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Cooking Directions: Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. If serving inside of pumpkin, carefully cut the top from a medium pumpkin, scoop out seeds and discard. Ladle the chili into the pumpkin and let your guests serve themselves with chosen toppings.

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Personal chef greenwich CTGuest Blog by Joanna Wallis of The Cooking Fairy

Joanna Wallis is a busy mom of 3 who started cooking over 20 years ago. Her culinary knowledge is self-taught and spans a variety of different cuisines and styles. Her love of food was the inspiration for The Cooking Fairy which started out as a glimmer of shiny magic over three years ago. Joanna works as a personal chef in Greenwich, CT for a wide range of clientele and she loves bringing families together with healthy, delicious, and fresh meals prepared just for them.

Visit www.thefairycook.com.

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