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Monday, December 4, 2023

Ghosty Toasties

Hungry for a spooky treat to occupy those little monsters creeping through your home? Maybe you are just hungry for a fast and easy lunch so you can get back to your latest ghostbusting adventure. How about some Ghosty Toasties for the younger set? It can be a healthy play with your food (in this case toast) activity that uses simple ingredients you probably have on hand.

You can seize the opportunity to expand the opportunity to introduce some lesser-known and even healthy ingredients while creating these timely little toasts. Nut butter works as a protein-packed coating, of course, but if you are cautious about allergies just use some honey or jam to place slices of dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, and prunes to make scary faces on toast. 

Softened cream cheese can be stirred together with jam or finely chopped ham to create a lunchtime treat. Add a couple of sliced olives cherry tomatoes for eyes, a red pepper mouth, and perhaps a pickle nose. The creamy base helps keep the features in place while this food play gets consumed by resident trick-or-treaters and monsters alike.

You can bring on some pimento cheese spread for a shaggy ghosty look with or without toasting the bread. Keep some on hand in the fridge or encourage those who love to cook to stir up their own pimento cheese spread. You will need a little jar of sliced pimentos, a half cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and just enough mayonnaise to blend it all together is super easy. You can store it in the fridge for future spread if there is any leftover.

I have a grown-up, cookie monster type, that keeps showing up at my house daily. He will go for almost any sandwich as long as there is some little dessert accompanied by a cookie for dessert. We have the usual ham, turkey, chicken, and even roast beef sandwiches as well as tuna, but one of our favorites is a smoked salmon open face creation. Delicate thin slices of salmon gathered over a whipped cream cheese spread over dark pumpernickel is a real treat.

In the past, I had to pick up packages of the thinly sliced smoked salmon at Whole Foods in Oklahoma City to satisfy our craving for it, but recently Jumbo Foods is carrying my favorite Duck Trap brand! Jumbo also carries our preferred dark pumpernickel bread to go with it. Sometimes I add a few capers and sprigs of fresh dill to top it off.

Whipped cream cheese is also quick and easy to work with. It holds the salmon in place and can be perked up with a bit of garlic salt and or chopped fresh dill. That whipped cream cheese, with a touch of garlic salt and chopped dill, are pretty amazing underneath slices of crisp fresh cucumber. We prefer the bread fresh and untoasted when building these little adult treats which are perfect for accompanying iced tea or even cocktails.

Speaking of dark pumpernickel there is a great variety of choices out there just begging to be tried. We love the Deli-Swirl bread for sandwiches and toast. All of those Rye varieties really come to life with some butter (I’m currently addicted to the Land of Lakes olive oil-infused spreadable stuff (sold in tubs) and of course some low sugar orange marmalade to go with it.

Hope these little ideas inspire you to create some little toasty edibles to enjoy along with those ghost stories or spooky evenings ahead….just in case we are all spending Halloween at home this year. Be safe and stay well!

October Recipe: “Spooky Easy Bewitching Spread”

This little spread is a perfect partner for the “SalmonWitch” and also great to secure cucumber slices on top of bread. (The neatest cucumber sandwiches are constructed on frozen bread and sliced before the bread thaws out so work fast if you are going for precision!)

1 / 2 cup Whipped Cream Cheese

1 / 4 teaspoon Garlic Salt (or to taste)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (optional)

1 Tablespoon finely minced cucumber peeling (optional)

Combine all ingredient in a small bowl and stir together until well blended. Spread generously on fresh slices of bread. Top with sliced cucumbers or thinly sliced smoked salmon. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh dill. The Salmon-Witch open-face version is particularly appealing to the male species with the addition of a salty little caper placed here and there.

The spread is great year-round not just Halloween and can be refrigerated for up to a week. It is just spooky easy to have on hand.

Sherrel Jones
Sherrel Jones, known locally as Editor of the original Junior Welfare League’s “Stir-Ups” cookbook grew up with an intense love of cooking. Long before her 17-year food columnist days at the Oklahoman, she was in the kitchens and gardens of her family’s farms. “Stir-Ups” was a catalyst for more discovery and inspiration as Sherrel pursued her food education in the United States as well as Italy and France.



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