KENTUCKY (10/7/13) – When leaves start turning and sunset arrives earlier, thoughts of Halloween, fall festivals and special treats come to mind. While holiday packaged candy and cookies are available, many families enjoy their own homemade favorites like made-from-scratch popcorn balls and crunchy candy-coated apples.
Those treats take a little expertise and since the ingredients must be cooked to the hard candy stage, it can be dangerous for little ones around the kitchen. However, there's no trick at all to the simplistic goodies listed below, and children can help with parents' supervision.
One of the easiest and traditional treats is a mixture of candy corn and peanuts. Mix the peanuts and candy corn about 50-50. It tastes a lot like a Payday candy bar and a container of it looks pretty sitting on a counter. Pour some of the mixture into pint jars and tie ribbons around the lids for giving.
Most everyone loves caramel apples but they can be a bit messy unless you use this old trick: Cut apples in half, core the apple leaving the edges intact. Pour melted caramels into the hollowed out core and place in the refrigerator. Dipping the cut apples into lemon juice before filling will prevent them turning brown. After they're set, you can half them again or cut into slices.
Another super easy treat is a version of everyone's favorite — s'mores.
Start by dipping large marshmallows into melted chocolate and then rolling into crushed graham crackers. Insert a pretzel stick into the top for an easy handle. Chill. After they're set, they are ready.
Placing one in the microwave about 10-15 seconds will puff up the marshmallow making it melty and gooey like campfire s'mores. Use caution because the filling can become hot very quickly in the microwave.
Butterscotch haystacks are another easy treat. Melt a 6 ounce bag of butterscotch chips, stir in two teaspoons of cooking oil and blend until smooth. Then quickly stir in a can of dry chow mien noodles. For more goodness, add some cashews to the batch before dropping them onto waxed paper in little stacks.
A few round crackers, some mini, round snack crackers, a creamy cheese spread, a few raisins or dried cranberries, some sliced almonds and pecan halves can become a real "hoot" of a treat. Apply any prepared spread onto the top of any large, round, party-type crackers. You can also soften an eight-ounce block of cream cheese and add two tablespoons of bottled ranch dressing and blend into a quick, spreadable cheese.
Place two mini crackers at the top of the cracker for owl eyes and add a raisin for the pupil. Use a pecan half for the nose, some sliced almonds for feathered wings and a couple for the owl's horns. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Any of the ideas above can become your fall, family favorite, and you can add your own special ingredients to make the treat your own.
Rita Dukes Smith
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