Bless Your Spoon: Halloween dressing as something you’re not

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2022

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

In grade school, taking a break from class wasn’t called recess but play period. So for Halloween, I want us to take a play period and have some fun with our kids. On fright night, spooks will be dressing to impress, hoping to appear as horror-able as possible.

When I was a child, my outfits were store-bought plastic masks with elastic strings to secure them to my face. I was envious of the handmade costumes — creative art. Donning costumes of macabre monsters, grim goblins, wicked witches and super-powerful heroes, we dressed up, pretending to be someone we weren’t. It was the only day of the year that being fake or false was encouraged and acceptable.

To this day, Halloween continues to be a favorite holiday. There is something supernatural about it all — pretending, making believe, dressing up, and haunting — all things children imagine, wrapped up like candy, for one magical night.

I still remember the neurosurgeon and wife, Dr. and Mrs. Pilcher, who lived up the street. On fright night, they invited trick-or-treaters into their decorated home for a small cup of steamy cider and a tasty, homemade, sweet snack. Crossing that threshold was like stumbling through a secret door. The memory has stayed with me all these years. While just a small gesture, to us kids it was a big deal.

These days, I see folks grilling hamburgers and hotdogs in their front yards, going all out! A large pot of chili or soup, finger sandwiches, a couple of sweet treats and cider for sipping make for a spooky stroll that both kids and adults will remember.

A little hospitality goes a long way. An extra touch will make someone else’s day fun and memorable. I like to think of my efforts as having made a turnaround, now meeting teachers’ expectations on early report cards — “does not work to her capacity.”

Halloween is the one day a year we tell our kids it’s OK to dress up and be something they’re not. But in real life, it’s not OK to be false or pretend to be someone else. We often see folks acting one way, but in reality, they’re entirely different. They live each day just going through the motions — saying one thing and doing another.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet calls nations to return to God, repent, and be renewed. He quotes the Lord, saying, “‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me'” (Isaiah 29:13).

Some people project an image of prayerfulness and holiness, but behind closed doors they’re not. They have an image to maintain. Jesus taught about praying to God, saying, “Do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men (Matthew 6:5).

God made each of us uniquely, according to his pleasure and purpose. When we live as if we’re someone else, we don’t live according to his design. Deception is a sin and wrong. And when one lives a deceptive lifestyle, he fools those who believe in him. In 2 Timothy 3:13, Paul says of false teachers, “while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

God’s eternal truth must not be distorted in any way. We have to speak out and live our lives in truth. Strive to be the people God intended us to be — authentic and sincere. Be joyful in hope and faithful in prayer. Share with those in need and practice hospitality.

The only real-life superhero is God. Our personal superpower is being authentic, living up to who we project and say we are. Let’s strive to be honor-able by being honest and genuine instead of horror-able and deceiving behind closed doors. This way, no folks will get tricked and no one will earn a time-out.   

Be the sweet treat everyone wants a bite of.

Delicious Chili

• 1 ½ cups dry kidney beans

• 4 large chili peppers

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 4 diced large onions

• 4 chopped cloves garlic

• 2 lbs. ground chuck

• 1 large drained can tomatoes

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 Tbsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

• 3 heaping tsp. chili powder

• 2 heaping tsp. cumin powder

Soak beans and peppers overnight. In a large pot, cook until medium tender. Remove skins from peppers. In a skillet, cook meat, onions and garlic in the shortening. Add meat mixture to the beans. Add cut-up peppers as desired for taste. Add tomatoes (reserve liquid), sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Simmer several hours. Add tomato liquid if too thick.

Corn Chowder

• 5 slices fried, drained, crumbled bacon

• 1 thinly sliced onion

• 2 cooked and diced medium potatoes

• ½ cup water

• 17 oz. cream of corn soup

• 1 cup milk

• 1 cup whipping cream

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• Fresh corn (optional)

In a skillet, cook bacon. Drain well on paper towels and crumble. Reserve 3 tbsp. bacon greased. In a skillet, cook onions in bacon grease until lightly browned. Add diced potatoes with water, and cook 10 minutes until potatoes are softened. Add cream of corn soup, milk and whipping cream. Mix thoroughly and heat. Salt and pepper, to taste. Before serving, you can fold bacon bits in or serve a few on top of each serving. You can add additional fresh corn if you desire.

No Bake Caramel Cookies

• ¾ cup softened salted butter

• 2 cups sugar

• 5 1/3 oz. evaporated milk

• 3 oz. instant butterscotch pudding

• 3 ½ cups quick cooking rolled oats

• Flaked coconut (optional)

In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar and evaporated milk (not condensed). Bring to a boil while frequently stirring. Remove from heat and add butterscotch pudding. Mix well. Fold in rolled oats and mix well. Cool for 20 minutes. Drop from tsp onto waxed paper or greased cookie sheet. Cool. You can roll in flaked coconut if desired.

Magician’s Butterscotch Bars

• 1 stick melted, salted butter

• 3 tbsp. sugar

• 1 ½ cups cornflake crumbs

• 1 cup butterscotch chips

• 1 cup chocolate chips

• 1 cup pecans

• 1 cup flaked coconut

• 1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk

In a bowl, combine melted butter, sugar and cornflake crumbs. Evenly press into bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Evenly layer butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and pecans over top of crust. Evenly sprinkle flaked coconut over the top. Evenly pour condensed milk over the entire top. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until coconut begins to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Toffee Crack Cookies

• 35 saltine cookies

• 2 sticks melted, salted butter

• 1 cup light brown sugar

• 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

• 1 cup chopped pecans

Line a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam. Place saltines in bottom of pan. In a saucepan, melt butter and sugar together. Mix well. Evenly pour sugar mixture over crackers. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes, making sure not to burn. Remove from oven, and evenly spread chocolate chips over top. When melted, smooth with spatula to cover top. Evenly sprinkle with chopped nuts, pressing them down into the chocolate. Chill for 30 minutes. Break into bite-sized pieces.

Chocolate Caramel Squares

• 14 oz. wrapped caramel candies

• 1/3 cup evaporated milk

• 3/4 cup melted butter

• 1 Duncan Hines German chocolate mix

• 1/3 cup evaporated milk

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 1 cup milk chocolate chips

In a saucepan, melt caramel candies, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk on low heat until candy melts. Meanwhile, in a mixer bowl, add melted butter, cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and chopped pecans. Divide batter in half. Press half in bottom of greased and floured 9 x 13 baking dish. Evenly sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Spread melted caramel mixture over top to cover. Evenly pour remaining cake batter over top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until done. Completely cool. Cut in squares and serve.

Marshmallow Puffs

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 2 cans crescent dinner roll dough

• ¼ cup melted, salted butter

• 16 large marshmallows


• ½ cup sifted confectioners sugar

• 2-3 tsp. whole milk

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Roll out the dough of each crescent roll. Evenly sprinkle sugar mixture over dough. Dip each marshmallow in melted butter. Place in center of dough and roll up in the dough. Pinch edges of dough together to seal. Place in a greased muffin pan. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Start on the bottom rack and as it bakes, move to the top for browning. For the icing, in a bowl, combine sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix well and drizzle tops of marshmallow puffs while still warm.

Hot Caramel Bake

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 ½ tsp. baking powder

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 2/3 cup sugar

• ½ cup whole milk

• 1 cup raisins

• 2 cups water

• 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

• 2 Tbsp. salted butter

• Whipped cream

In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar and milk and stir until sugar dissolves. Add raisins. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and stir just until moistened. Spread batter into a greased and floured 9-inch baking dish. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine water, sugar and butter. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Evenly pour this hot, thin mixture over the batter in the pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Spoon out cake, turn upside down, and top each serving with whipped cream.

Brittle Nut Candy Cookie Bars

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

• ¾ tsp baking powder

• 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk

• 1 cup peanut butter chips


• 1 ½ cup sugar

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• ½ cup evaporated milk

• ½ cup light corn syrup

• 1 ½ cups sliced almonds

• 2/3 cup peanut butter chips

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and milk. Stir until mixture holds together. Evenly press into bottom and up sides of a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake 10 minutes in a 375-degree oven until golden. Cool. Evenly sprinkle 1 cup peanut butter chips over cooled baked crust. Prepare the filling. For the filling, in a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk and corn syrup. Heat while constantly stirring and bring to a boil. Stir in almonds. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture reaches soft ball stage or 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Immediately spoon mixture over baked crust and chips but don’t spread. Bake 13-15 minutes in a 375-degree oven until filling is caramel colored. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of peanut butter chips over top. Completely cool, and then cut into bars.

Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Pie

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• ¾ cup packed brown sugar

• 2 eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• ½ cup all-purpose flour

• 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

• 1 cup chopped walnuts

• 9-inch unbaked pie shell

• Vanilla ice cream

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, thoroughly mixing between each addition. Stir in vanilla. Beat well. Stir in flour and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and walnut pieces. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream.

Jumbo Crispy Treats

• 1 stick softened salted butter

• 80 regular marshmallows

• 5 cups Fruity Pebbles or similar cereal

• 10 cups Rice Crispy type cereal

In a large pot, melt butter and marshmallows on low heat. When melted, stir in cereals. Pour mixture into two 9 x 13 baking dishes that have been sprayed with Pam. Evenly spread mixture out in the pans. Allow to cool and sit for at least 30 minutes.

Chunky Chocolate Cheesecake Squares

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• 30 crushed chocolate wafers (1 ¼ cup)

• ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

• 6 oz. softened cream cheese

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/3 unsweetened Hershey cocoa

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• ½ cup chopped nuts

In a 9-inch square baking pan, melt butter in a preheated 350-degree oven. Stir in chocolate crumbs and ½ cup nuts. Evenly press down into bottom of pan to make rust. In a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in cocoa, egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with ½ cup additional nuts. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool 2 hours at room temperature. Cut into squares and serve. Keep covered and refrigerated.

Hot Spicy Punch

• 2 quarts apple cider

• 2 juiced lemons

• ½ cup light brown sugar

• 2 sticks cinnamon

• 16 cloves

• 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a large pot or percolator, combine all ingredients and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and keep warm. Serve hot. Keeps refrigerated up to 2 months.