This post comes to us courtesy of writer and Williams-Sonoma creative consultant Laura Martin Bacon.
Halloween’s grinning jack-o’-lanterns and colorful candy-filled treat bags bring out the free-spirited kid in everyone.
This year, my buddy Elaine Smit, founder of Chow Bella Kids, is sharing the frightful fun with a creative twist on a classic holiday pumpkin-carving party – plus some sweet new tricks for treating from Green Ribbon Schools.
Pumpkin Carving 101
For junior jack-o’-lantern artists: Elaine helps little partygoers express their creepy creativity by drawing faces on the pumpkins with markers or decorating them with stickers. She also keeps kids busy scooping out squishy pumpkin seeds and arranging them on baking sheets to be roasted later.
For grown-up goblins: Adults or older kids can finish scraping out the pumpkins and sculpting frightful faces. Elaine’s tip: “Using a template is an easy way to create expressions with lots of detail – and a pumpkin carving kit comes in handy for safe, precise sculpting”
New Tricks for Treating
The tricks: “Our friends at Green Ribbon Schools inspired us to create treat bags that are recyclable, organic, sustainable and fair trade. Everything’s more fun when you share it, so kids are assembling their own goodie bags – and making extras for children at our community crisis center. We’re also bringing treat bags and jack-o’-lanterns to elderly neighbors and other friends who could use a little cheering up.”
The treats: “We filled our bags with gummy worms and organic lollipops from Yummy Earth, fair-trade chocolates, Mini Glee Gum and organic mixed fruit snacks. We call them our ‘Hallowgreen’ treats!”
The talk: Elaine’s daughter Jenny considers the family’s annual pumpkin party the beginning of a special season of sharing. “I love to help families in need – especially around the holidays. Making extra treat bags is a great way to make their day a little brighter.” Her friend Katie agrees: “I had so much fun – it felt really good knowing our treats were bringing some Halloween fun to kids at the crisis center.”
A Pumpkin Patch Menu
Elaine’s favorite way to celebrate fall is with recipes that show off the season’s harvest. “I like to have lots of time to enjoy the party, so I keep things simple and fun. This year’s menu: homemade pumpkin-pear soup, parmesan popcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh-baked pumpkin cupcakes.”
Easy Pumpkin-Pear Soup
This colorful harvest soup is a natural for Halloween parties – or any autumn gathering. For a fun seasonal garnish, Elaine tops each bowl of soup with a sprinkling of crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds.
3 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cups cooked pumpkin purée
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cream
Sauté the pear and onion in butter over medium heat. Stir until the onions are translucent and the pears are tender.
Put the pear and onion mixture in a blender, add pumpkin puree and process until velvety smooth. Pour into a large saucepan, then add broth, wine, and salt.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 minutes, uncovered.
Stir in the cream and continue to gently simmer until the soup is heated all the way through, then serve right away.
About the author: Laura is a longtime writer and creative consultant for Williams-Sonoma and other well-known entities. She’s also the Culinary Creative Director of DooF (“food” backwards), an organization that uses multi-media entertainment, education and live events to help kids and families discover the magic of food. DooF explores every aspect of food – from flavors, history, science and cultural traditions to the exciting journey from source-to-table. Laura’s mission: to make good food fun – at home, in the classroom and beyond.