A Make-Ahead Halloween Feast
Honey Cider-Beer Cocktails
The cider-honey base of this fall beverage makes enough for both adult and kid twists: one with pale ale, the other with sparkling cider. Beer and cider are refreshing and lower in sugar and alcohol than stronger potions, which tend to go down a bit too easily. The cider syrup needs time to cool; let it rest while you traverse the neighborhood; then mix up the drinks when you return. Cut the apple slices for the kids' drinks into spooky shapes before adding to the pitcher.
Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad
Bland veggie trays tend to lose out over sugary treats; serve this dish instead. This salad pops with color and texture from juicy citrus, creamy avocado, and crisp jicama. Dark, bumpy kale fits the mood, but you can substitute any lettuce you like. We love the pink hue of Cara Cara oranges in the salad, but regular navel or even blood oranges (in keeping with the spooky theme) would also work. Sturdy lacinato kale will become perfectly tender when dressed and left to stand at room temperature. Coating the avocado in the dressing first will keep it from browning while you're out having fun.
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
Get the chili started in the morning and keep warm in the slow cooker while you're out. Calling for a mixture of beans and hominy, this recipe boasts bold, rich flavor, something that can often be dulled in a slow cooker. Whirring some of the beans in a food processor thickens the soup, lending a heartier texture to the dish. We suggest serving the soup with green onions, cheese, cilantro, peppers, and plain yogurt, a great substitute for sour cream. Serve with Cheesy Jalapeno-Sour Cream Corn Muffins (next slide).
Cheesy Jalapeño-Sour Cream Corn Muffins
What is chili without corn muffins? Pickled jalapeños add a little extra zip and dimension without too much heat. You can omit them or substitute minced cilantro if you like. Make the corn muffins a day or two ahead and refrigerate then leave out at room temperature with the Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad and Frosted Brown Butter Blondies. The addition of sour cream makes these muffins incredibly tender—they won't dry out if made in advance. Looking for a spooky spin? Use blue cornmeal; it'll turn the muffins a greenish blue.
Frosted Brown Butter Blondies
This festive fall dessert became an instant staff favorite. Brown butter imparts a rich flavor to blondies composed of bittersweet chocolate and cream cheese. A plastic zip-top bag makes it easy to pipe the web pattern onto the frosting.