Monster Bites

Take back the scariest night of the year with some tapas, hors d’oeuvres and munchies worthy of a more mature Halloween crowd.

Adults, it’s time to take back Halloween. Sure, the holiday might seem to revolve around the kids, all decked out in costumes romping the streets in search of the year’s supply of candy, but why can’t moms and dads embrace All Hallows’ Eve, in all its culinary glory?

Consider this: Amid the ding-donging of your doorbell, invite your closest friends to a less-spooky, classy Halloween cocktail party. It doesn’t have to be an aspirational pursuit. We went straight to Rachael Perron, culinary director at Kowalski’s Markets in Oak Park Heights, for some basic ideas and recipes on how this Halloween can be a different kind of smorgasbord.

First of all, she says, a party isn’t a party without some good finger foods (pun not intended—these need not be just for zombies!). “It’s nice to have both cold and warm bites,” Perron says, even if you are planning a dinner alongside. “It keeps things interesting, and it’s much easier to manage as a host, too.”

She recommends having eight to 10 appetizers per person at the party if you aren’t serving a dinner; that way everyone will be filled up enough to go without a full meal and will also get to experience a variety of treats. Always best to have a couple of cocktails, with and without alcohol, available as well.

Here are some of Perron’s seasonal favorites, from scary-simple to hauntingly regal.


Serving size varies

• Salem Baking Co. Moravian Cookies, your choice of flavor

• Buttercream icing (at room temperature), your choice of original, salted caramel or chocolate flavors, to taste

Spoon frosting on flat side of a single cookie; top with another cookie, flat side in.

Repeat as desired.

Note: Try Spicy Ginger Aioli or Artisan Blend Chocolate Moravian Cookies with Salted Caramel Buttercream, Mint Dipped in Chocolate Moravian Cookies with Chocolate Buttercream, or Meyer Lemon Moravian Cookies with Original Buttercream Icing.

Honeyed Apple Fizz

Serves 2
1 Tbsp. honey, warmed in the microwave
1 Tbsp. water
¼ c. cold hard apple cider
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Approx. 1 cup sparkling wine, to taste

Whisk together warm honey and water until dissolved; let cool completely. In each of two sparkling wine flutes, evenly divide cider, honey syrup and lemon juice. Top with sparkling wine, to taste.

Mocktail: Substitute cider for the pasteurized version for a nonalcoholic treat. Care to spook it up a bit? Consider halved peeled grapes for a gory garnish.

Spicy Maple Parmesean Popcorn

Serves 2
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2½ tsp. unsalted butter
1½ tsp. hot sauce (or more, to taste)
¼ cup unpopped popcorn
½ tsp. ground sumac
Kowalski’s Popcorn Salt and freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste

In a small spouted measuring glass, combine syrup, butter and hot sauce; microwave a few seconds at a time just until butter melts. Stir mixture; set aside. Pop popcorn in an air popper. Place popcorn in a large serving bowl. Drizzle syrup mixture over hot popcorn, and sprinkle with sumac, salt and cheese; toss well.

Note: Popcorn can also be made in the microwave. Place popcorn in a paper lunch sack; fold top of bag down twice and crimp to hold the bag closed. Stand bag upright in the microwave; cook until there is a 2-second break between pops (about 1½–2 minutes).

Caramel Corn Cookies

Makes 20
1¼ cups flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 oz. caramel corn, roughly chopped
1 cup smoked almonds, chopped

Heat oven to 325° F. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat just until well combined. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just until flour is no longer visible. Fold in caramel corn and nuts. Drop 20 even rounded spoonfuls 2 inches apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets; flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake pans one at a time until just barely set and slightly puffy (about 15 minutes), rotating pan halfway through. Cool cookies on pans for 2 minutes; move to wire racks to cool completely.

Scary-spicy Jalapeno Poppers

Serves 6
3 Tbsp. Kowalski’s Original or Smokey Sweet BBQ Sauce
1 Tbsp. seedless black raspberry jam
12 small jalapeño peppers
½ cup Kowalski’s Signature Herb Spread (or another flavor to suit)
6 thin slices prosciutto, each cut into 4 long thin strips

Heat oven to 400° F. In a small microwave-safe dish, combine barbecue sauce and jam. Microwave mixture in 15 second intervals until jam melts and mixture is hot, stirring after each interval; set aside. Slice jalapeños in half from stem to tip; use a sharp paring knife to remove the seeds. Fill peppers with herb spread; wrap with a strip of prosciutto. Place peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet; brush with sauce mixture. Bake until prosciutto is crispy and filling is bubbly and dark on the edges (about 20 minutes). Let stand for 2 to 5 minutes before serving.

Caramel Apple Bites

Serves 12
12 Knudsen’s hand-wrapped caramels, sliced into fourths
2 apples, cored and cubed

Alternate caramel cubes and apple pieces on small wooden skewers or long toothpicks. Serve immediately.

Indian Meatballs with Creamy Yogurt Dip

Serves 8
1 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste with ½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. chili powder
Dash cayenne pepper
Coarse-ground black pepper, to taste
1 pkg. Kowalski’s Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Meatballs, warmed
Indian simmer sauce, to taste

Stir together first nine ingredients in a small bowl. Toss meatballs with sauce, and serve immediately with yogurt.

Wassail Punch

Serves 10
½ gallon apple cider
2 cups no-pulp orange juice
½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
12 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Stir together all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Serve hot.