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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Festive Food and Fun For Fall

By Sherrie Norris

Fall and all its festivities have begun to bring a bit of excitement to the High Country. Tailgating is in full swing and in the middle of it all comes Halloween — with Thanksgiving close behind.

It all seems to be arriving at an alarming rate this year in a way that I can’t quite grasp or explain.

While we don’t need to spend too much time trying to figure it all out, let’s have some fun with a few seasonal specialties as we prepare to move forward into the holiday season.


Pumpkin Head Treats

3 Tbs. butter or margarine

1 pkg. (about 40) regular marshmallows or

4 cups miniature marshmallows

Red and yellow food coloring

6 cups Rice Krispies or

6 cups Cocoa Krispies

Canned frosting or decorating gel

Assorted candies

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

For the orange tint, mix red and yellow food coloring and stir into the marshmallow mix.

Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

Divide warm cereal mixture into ½-cup portions and with buttered hands, shape each into pumpkin shapes. Decorate with frosting and/or candies. Best if served the same day, but can be made in advance and frozen for up to six weeks in an airtight container, placed in single layer on waxed paper. If frozen, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.


Leggy Spiders

Black string licorice, cut into 1-inch lengths

Oreo Cakesters or similar soft snack cakes

Red decorating gel

Insert four one-inch licorice pieces into opposite sides of each snack cake for the spider’s legs.

Use red decorating gel to make the eyes.


Celebration Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix with pudding

½ tsp. vanilla and butter flavor

Orange and black food color (or other colors as desired, depending on holiday or occasion)

White icing

Holiday specific candies or sprinkles

Hershey’s kisses

Combine cake mix according to box directions; add flavorings.

Line a mini-cupcake pan with holiday decorative liners. Add cake mix and push a Hershey kiss in the center of mix. Bake according to box directions.

Divide frosting evenly in two small bowls; tint with food coloring. Spoon into piping bags and then pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate with candies or sprinkles. Can be used for any holiday by changing the food coloring.


Cheesy Jack-o’-Lantern

3 green onions, divided

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 pkg. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

¼ cup finely chopped red peppers

2 slices pepperoni

Ritz crackers

Cut four-inch length from green end of 1 onion; slice remaining onions. Beat cream cheese and 1¼ cups Cheddar with mixer until well blended. Stir in sliced onions and peppers. Refrigerate one hour.

Shape into ball; roll in remaining cheddar. Cut pepperoni into shapes for the jack-o’-lantern’s eyes, nose and mouth; press into cheese ball to make face. Insert green onion piece into top for stem. Serve with crackers.


Easy Party Mix

10 cups popcorn

1 pound plain M&Ms (specific colors as needed for occasion)

1 (14 oz.) jar dry-roasted peanuts

1 cup raisins

1 cup miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cups

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Makes about 15 cups.


Simple Seasonal Cookies

Ritz crackers

Creamy or crunchy peanut butter

Marshmallow cream (optional)

1 (12-oz.) bag white chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Orange candy sprinkles or those for any holiday theme


Make sandwich cookies out of the Ritz crackers, using peanut butter and marshmallow cream for filling.

In small, heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening together over low heat, stirring until smooth.

Dip each cookie into the melted chocolate mixture and place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with the candy. Allow to dry at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.