Crispy Halloween Sweet Potato Fries

What could be more fun and festive than a Halloween pumpkin patch of your own, right on your dinner plate? These little cuties are made from sweet potatoes, baked to crispy perfection! Fun, delicious, and the perfect comfort food on a chilly Autumn day!

These little cuties are made from sweet potatoes, baked to crispy perfection!

I don’t like to share a recipe that I have not yet tweaked to near perfection, but I’m sharing this one early because it’s a Halloween recipe. At the end of the article, I will talk about how I will be changing and hopefully improving this process for next time.

So here are the basics of how to make them!

Ingredients:

  • Sweet Potatoes, the bigger the better!
  • Cooking oil. Whatever oil you prefer. I used Avocado oil.
  • Seasoning. Whatever combination of seasonings you prefer. I used 2 teaspoons of Old Bay in this recipe, but in the future, I will be using my custom “Gadzooks” seasonings instead. These would probably also be great with pumpkin-pie seasonings as well….and maybe even marshmallows for a sweet treat!
  • Cornstarch: 2 Teaspoons, (though I am not yet convinced this was necessary (more on that below.))

Instructions:

  1. Buy some nice plump sweet potatoes, the bigger the better.

2. Slice the sweet potatoes about a quarter or a third of an inch thick. A mandolin slicer is the safest and quickest way to go.

Soak the slices in water to remove the starch so that they get nice and crispy when baked.

3. Use pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters on each sweet potato slice.

4. Cut faces into the pumpkin cut-outs.

5. Toss the slices in oil, making sure to cover all slices completely. (make sure the slices are nice and dry before adding the oil. This will help them crisp better.)

6. Add Seasoning to the oil-covered slices. I suggest doing this in a plastic bag, shake and bake style.

7. Bake 425 degrees. On parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. 15 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Don’t overcrowd your baking sheet! They need some space to get properly crispy.

That’s it! Enjoy!

Notes, Fixes, and Updates:

Slicing: This is the first spot where my plan needs some improvement. I used a mandolin slicer to do this which should be quick easy work, but it was not. The sweet potatoes were so firm that it was difficult to slice through them. Maybe pre-cooking them slightly would make this work better.

Soaking: I soaked the slices in water to remove the starch so that they would bake to crispy perfection. After scouring the internet, for tricks and tips to get sweet potatoes crispy, some sources seemed to say that the key to a crispy sweet potato is removing the starch by soaking, while other recipes claimed that the key was in adding corn starch to the seasonings. Why remove the starch and then add it back in again? I am not sure, and need to do more experimenting!

Cookie Cutter: When I used my cookie cutter on each sweet potato slice, again, the slices were so firm that this was quite difficult. I had to use my meat tenderizing rubber mallet to get the cookie cutter to cut through the slices.

Faces: When I cut faces into the pumpkin cut-outs, once again this was difficult because the raw sweet potatoes were so firm.

Oiling and Seasoning: I used Old Bay seasoning, but I am not a big fan of the celery salt in Old Bay seasoning, so I think I would change the seasonings to my custom “Gadzooks” blend of:

  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesean cheese.

Baking: I ran out of parchment paper, so I had to use aluminum foil. I think they would be better on parchment. I pulled mine from the oven 5 minutes early, but I think they would have been better and more crispy if I went the full time. Also maybe a little blast from the air fryer setting would probably help as well.

Thanksgiving Table: The Spendor of Autumn

This Thanksgiving I used all my restraint to resist the urge to let our Christmas decor arrive early. So often I cannot resist that urge and we end up with a Thanksgiving/Christmas fusion. 
 
Everything stayed well within the Autumn color theme this year without even a hint of Christmas!
Burlap has always been an inexpensive fabric mostly used for making things like potato sacks or for wrapping shrubbery for the winter, but somehow it has become very popular in decorating as well.
It does offer a nice warm neutral base and lots of texture so it makes sense that decorators would be bringing this into their designs. 
 
What does NOT make sense is that this traditionally inexpensive fabric is now carrying a designer fabric price tag! I had to shop around a bit but finally found a nice large bolt of burlap at Walmart for a reasonable price.
 
So, on with the show… The table and the buffet are both topped with the above mentioned burlap. Burlap is a fairly open weave, so pairing it with a nice pumpkin colored table cloth really worked well together.


Gold beaded charger plates and white china (retired pattern Alsace by Farberware) with the salad plate swapped out for a lovely leafy pattern plate that harmonizes well with the autumn theme.


I know right now that tree slices as chargers is all the rage in decorating, but for me this is a sentimental accent. These tree slices are from the tree in our yard. 

I grew up with this tree and when a hurricane took it down I was heartbroken and I requested some mementos in the form of tree slices. I had no idea what I would do with them, but all these years later and they have finally found a home on our Thanksgiving table.


I fell in love with these white porcelain pumpkins. I’ll admit I am a bit pumpkin obsessed, but these just sent me over the moon. I want more! Here they are sitting on some silk autumn leaves and my beloved tree slices.


See that silverware? Yes, I do too. I swapped it out for gold flatware, but not until after discovering the error in this photo shoot. Details, details!

 

Halloween 2015

This Halloween we wanted to create a spooky haunted forest but still keep it light and playful enough that it was still warm, inviting and not too gloomy.  

Some dead tree branches from the yard were perfect for making a huge impact – and the best part is that they cost NOTHING!


When you bring lots of natural elements into the decor everything falls into place. Sea shells, leaves, branches, pine cones and any other natural element can cover your decorating schemes for all the seasons and holidays.


“Creepy Cloth” is a very loose weave gauze-like fabric that can be draped from almost any surface to create a delightfully creepy look. Here we have draped it on our picture frames (two professional artists in the house and we have EMPTY picture frames….we’re cuckoo!).


A simple branch in a flower pot with some floral foam and a centerpiece is born!


Birds perched in random places makes it feel as if they have landed there themselves, and that we are being quietly outnumbered by some spooky guests.

 


Orange and black is such a traditionally Halloween color scheme, but it can feel a bit tacky at times. With the right balance and some natural elements some Halloween elegance can be attained.

A bird and some silk leaves on each place setting helps tie the buffet decor to the table. We found our birds at Dollar Tree.

We like to bring out the ornate silver charger plates and accessories for a Halloween look because it feels like they could be right out of an old haunted mansion!


We found some lovely salad plates with a subtle embossed leaf pattern covering the entire surface of the plate. The natural leaf pattern makes them ideal for autumn decor and because they are plain white instead of fall colors they will fit in beautifully with Spring and Easter decor as well.


Here is a look back at last Halloween with our buffet in burgundy and black. 

As always, thanks for stopping by! Likes, shares, pins, follows and comments always greatly appreciated!

Pepper Pumpkins and Mashed BOOtatoes

Pepper Pumpkins and Mashed BOOtatoes! 
I actually made them this year, and here are the pictures to prove it!! (and illustrated six step how-to guide and recipe below)
Every holiday season I start decorating and preparing just a little bit earlier than the start of the season — which lulls me into falsely believing I have plenty of time to prepare and create all the fantastical holiday projects that dance through my head.  Yet somehow I go from being the early bird planner to the last minute loser every year without having any idea what happened to all the time between.
For YEARS I have planned to make stuffed peppers carved as Jack-O-Lanterns and mashed potatoes in the shape of ghosts that I rename mashed “BOOtatoes” but somehow Halloween passes before I can bring my Halloween dinner visions to life.
Well this year it finally happened! We made my Halloween dinner dreams come true! It was fun, festive and most importantly DELICIOUS.
So, here is the recipe we used and the step by step pictures along the way. This is recipe was created and tweaked to be more healthy by my mom, the lovely and talented artist Peggy Hickey.
Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients
Peppers
3 Orange Bell Peppers
1 half pound (85% lean) chopped beef
1/4 cup dry uncooked oatmeal
1 half a small onion diced
1 tablespoon Gravy Master
Sauce
1 can (16 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Steps illustrated below!
Preheat the oven to 385 F degrees.
I started with the lovely orange peppers that I see in the store every year, only this time I bought them early, forcing myself to make this meal before the peppers went bad. 
I treated the little orange peppers just like pumpkins — cutting around the top as a ‘lid’ just like when carving a Jack-O-Lantern.
This made it quite easy to pull all the seeds out in one easy step.
Cut the seeds off the ‘lid’ and clean out any stray seeds inside.
Toss the seeds, but keep the ‘lid’ for later.
Then the fun part of carving the ‘face’.
Channel your inner child and give each pepper it’s own playful or spooky personality.
Don’t make them too scary or you’ll be afraid to eat it!
Make the stuffing by combining:

1 half pound (85% lean) chopped beef
1/4 cup dry uncooked oatmeal
1 half a small onion diced
1 tablespoon Gravy Master

Fill each pepper pumpkin with the meat mixture.
Don’t pack it too tightly or it may not cook evenly.
Put their lids back on and pop them in the oven!
Bake for 45 minutes at 385 F degrees.
I DARE you not to smile back at them when you see their little faces smiling out from the oven –it’s not possible.
While they are in the oven, start the sauce by combining the following:

1 can(16 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar in a small pan. Heat until the sugar dissolves and it’s nice and hot. Don’t overcook.
Serve with mashed potatoes spooned into ghost shapes and use peppercorns as eyes and mouth. 
You could use a pastry bag for the ghostly mashed BOOtatoes, or you can artfully dollop the potatoes – snowman style.
I used a plain ole spoon and placed a large dollop on the plate, then a medium one on top of that and a small one on top. Pay extra attention to the peak on the top dollop because that will make the ghosty head. 
Open the top of the pepper pumpkin and pour sauce inside the pepper so it oozes out creepily.
This sauce is tangy and sweet and a perfect compliment to the peppers.
And thats it! 

I’ve wanted to make this meal for so many years, and we finally did it! 

Okay…full disclosure. We made these on November 4th !! 
But in all fairness, the Halloween decorations were still up, and being after Halloween meant no trick or treaters to interrupt dinner, and we had lots of leftover candy for dessert!
Also, we are always looking to create healthy meals, and ground beef does not typically make it into our meal plans. Peggo had the great idea of adding the oatmeal to the stuffing with the rationale that the beef may raise cholesterol, but Oatmeal lowers it, so they cancel themselves out! While that science may or may not be completely sound, the oatmeal does bulk up the meat filling so you get a nice big portion without feeling too terribly guilty!

Dunkin Donuts

Oh..My…God…..

Dunkin Donuts that look like Pumpkins.

It’s like the universe designed a perfect mouse trap for me..

It turns out that the hospital where we are visiting our Evie every day is right next door to a Dunkin Donuts….

….and they have donuts that look like PUMPKINS! 

Oh Great Pumpkin! How could you do this to me?

Impossible to resist.



Stress and carbs — both dancing an intoxicating Pasodoble’ in my body. 

Sugar that goads and fuels the anxiety spikes like a matador’s red cape — then dropping off to the side suddenly so the bull has wasted it’s energy charging at the empty cape, exhausting and subduing  the beast into a comfort-food induced nap. 

Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno would all rate the performance a perfect ten.

It’s like tossing a marble on the roulette wheel of health…

But…look how pretty…

I want to go to there.