Halloween seems to be getting more and more popular each year. In my San Francisco neighborhood, more houses seem to be strung with orange lights and giant spider webs grace more front doors.
Steve bought us our pumpkins and I plan to carve them next week. Some years, if I don’t get around to it, I just keep the pumpkins until Thanksgiving, when they become part of the table centerpiece.
Since our kids are grown, Halloween isn’t as exciting as when we took them trick-or-treating in the dark of night. And no ghosts or goblins knock on our door because we’re on a busy street, so we no longer buy Halloween candy, which we’d just end up eating ourselves.
Still, our first grandchild was born this year and I loved stitching up a baby bee costume for her. And for Halloween night, I’m making some creepy fingers from string cheese and a “blood” dip to get us into the spirit. It’s super-easy to make, creative fun and a great contribution to a potluck (add some crudités interspersed among the cheese fingers).
Wishing you and your family a happy – and safe – Halloween!
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Creepy Fingers and “Blood” Dip
(Mozzarella Sticks with Romesco Sauce)
1 package (10 ounces) light string cheese (12 sticks)
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
Grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup slivered almonds or 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, roasted
1 can (8 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes with liquid
3/4 cup drained, prepared roasted red peppers
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 slice wheat bread, lightly toasted and broken into 6 pieces
Salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
To make the fingers: Unwrap one stick of string cheese. With a paring knife, slice a bit off the top of the stick lengthwise to form an indentation for the fingernail. Dab a bit of cream cheese on the cut to use as glue. Affix half a tomato on the cream cheese to make the fingernail.
Using the paring knife, cut shallow crosswise notches in the cheese, to make the grooves of the finger and the knuckle. Repeat for remaining cheese sticks. Cut some sticks in half before forming into fingers so you have different lengths.
To make the dip: Place almonds in a food processor or blender and process until very finely ground. Add remaining ingredients except salt and process until quite smooth and thoroughly blended, scraping sides of container as needed. Season with salt. Make 2 ½ cups dip.
Note: Grape tomatoes are like cherry tomatoes but smaller and oval-shaped.
Tip: This recipe makes more dip than you need for the mozzarella sticks. You can:
- Use it also as a dip serve with crudités or poached shrimp for your Halloween party
- Serve leftovers over grilled chicken or fish
- Freeze leftovers up to three months in an airtight container leaving ½-inch of head space
Romesco Sauce recipe adapted from Almond Board of California
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