Let’s celebrate! It’s Halloween food season

Dixie’s monster version of Cynthia’s Asian Wraps

Pumpkin Spice Jack-O’-Lantern


Dixie’s Monster version of Cynthia’s Asian Wraps

Thanks to my daughter, Cynthia, these lettuce wraps are a family favorite anytime of the year, but they are particularly perfect for any party or to fill up the “Trick or Treaters” so they won’t gobble up all their candy on the big night. 

1–2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Siracha, or to taste

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 onion, diced

1–2 cups julienne carrots

1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

About 4 green onions, chopped

Romaine lettuce (Easy way, the plastic container with the right size Romaine for wraps/boats, triple washed) 

Red Bell Pepper (for horns)

Sour cream (for eyes)

Sliced ripe olives (for eyes)

Rice (we use black rice for the Halloween scary look and for texture, taste and nutrition.

Spread oil in skillet over medium heat; add chicken, cooking and crumbling until starting to slightly brown and chicken is almost done.

Stir in the next 7 ingredients. Cook until onions are translucent, add water chestnuts, green onions and carrots, heat for a minute or two. Season with salt/pepper to taste. 

To serve: spoon chicken mixture in center of lettuce leaves, top partly with black rice, add sour cream and sliced black or green olives for eyes and red pepper horns.

Serve with a variety of sauces: Asian peanut sauce, Siracha, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce, low calorie toasted sesame ginger sauce or my favorite, P.F. Chang’s Kung Pao sauce.

Dry roasted peanuts are good sprinkled on top — slivered almonds make great fangs for the monster faces.

Pumpkin Spice Jack-O’-Lantern

This is made from Pumpkin Cake or Bars recipe. I once served Pumpkin Spice Bars at a Daily Sentinel Senior Fair many years ago. They were a hit, but it was difficult to convince everyone that the recipe doesn’t include eggs or oil. So now you know, no eggs, no oil.

1 spice cake mix

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

Use a mixer to blend the two ingredients until fluffy. Bake according to the suggested temperature on the box.

I have baked this in a jelly roll pan, a 9x12 cake pan and round cake pans so I can make a jack-o’-lantern faces. Grease and lightly flour bottom of pans.

This recipe works. It has a more bar-like texture. Serve with ice cream, a little whipped cream, lightly glaze with frosting or simply dust with powdered sugar.

It is fall and my favorite month, October, meaning I have begun my compulsive Halloween and pumpkin behavior.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for me and I like to add a Halloween spin to many dishes: oatmeal, spaghetti,  salads,  sandwiches, pancakes and more.

Pumpkin added to vanilla ice cream can be used to make frozen orange pumpkin balls. Red peppers can be turned into horns. Green or black food coloring turns spaghetti into a creepy dish, especially with the red sauce on top.

Moving on to my pumpkin obsession ... once canned pumpkin hits the stores, I like to purchase some cans every time I shop. This behavior can be blamed on the pumpkin shortage a few years ago and the fact that pumpkin can be hard to find after the holidays.

The rest of winter is still pumpkin season for us. I add canned pumpkin to stews, soups and sauces for the richness.

For now, though, enjoy these Halloween favorites.


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