HALLOWEEN is a little like Marmite. Some people love it and happily spend hours carving pumpkin faces, and some just can't stand it.

But if you've got kids in tow, it means a very handy ready-made themed day of festivities to keep little ones occupied this half-term.

So swallow your inner Halloween annoyance and embrace all things ghoulish for one night only, with our guide to throwing a spine-tinglingly good bash...


With Halloween and Bonfire Night so close, it's a case of anything goes, as long as it's a comforting winter warmer! You don't have to splash out on lots of new ingredients, there's probably plenty in the cupboard already to make a Halloween feast.

Sausages are the taste of autumn and, with a blob of ketchup, double up quite handily as severed fingers, while spaghetti is basically a plate of long wiggly worms and Bolognese looks eerily like entrails (or is that just me?) If you do have time and a little spare cash, try making the Frankenstein cupcakes below, for a monstrous way to top off the meal.


This is one to get the kids busy with on the day. If you opt for a pumpkin to go in your window or on the doorstep, they can hollow out all the seeds (the boring part), leaving adults to do the more creative carving.

Then the fun really begins, with giant spiders made from black bin liners stuffed with scrunched up newspaper, webs made from balls of black and white wool knotted together - the more the scarier - and white tissue paper ghosts hanging creepily from the ceiling.

Let the children choose where they want everything to go, but maybe keep a few spooky surprises in store for them...


Now for the part that little (and grown-up) kids like best: dressing up. Time to acquire some face paints and get artistic. Go for old classics like cats, with headband, cardboard ears and painted whiskers and noses, or ghosts made from old sheets.

Witches' and wizards' hats are easy to make from old cereal boxes - channel your inner Harry Potter and apply lightning bolt scars for added impact. Make Frankenstein with a green base and some realistic black 'stitches', and baby pumpkins with a circle of orange and a green stalk near the hairline.

Everyone ready? Time to go trick or treating, then it's back home for some ghoulish grub...



Keep kids entertained and fill little tums with this healthy dish.

(Serves 4-6 children)


100g cherry tomatoes

150g pack mini mozzarella balls, drained

Handful of basil

400g green tagliatelle

350g jar tomato sauce

4tbsp fresh pesto


Halve the cherry tomatoes and use a small, sharp knife or a teaspoon to remove the seeds.

Cut the mozzarella balls in half.

Place one half inside each tomato, trimming the edges if necessary to fit it in.

Either cut the smallest circles you can from a basil leaf or finely chop the leaves and scrunch into small circles.

Place one at the centre of each mozzarella ball.

Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, heat through the tomato sauce.

When the tagliatelle is cooked, drain and stir through the pesto and any remaining basil, chopped finely.

Divide between four to six serving bowls.

Spoon over some tomato sauce, then arrange the stuffed tomato eyeballs on top.

Knutsford Guardian:



Little hands will snaffle these snacks in a second.



 100g caster sugar

100g butter

1 egg yolk

200g plain flour

1/2tsp vanilla extract

20 blanched almonds

Red food colouring

Pinch of salt



85g popping corn

1tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for shaping

25g butter

85g marshmallows

Method - Freaky Fingers

Place the first five ingredients and a pinch of salt in a food processor and whizz until a ball of dough forms.

Tear off a golfball-size piece of dough and use your hands to roll into finger-size cylinders - you should get about 20.

Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment - a little apart as they will spread during baking.

Use a knife to make a few cuts, close together, for the knuckles.

Place an almond at the end of each finger and trim away excess pastry around the edge to neaten.

Place in the fridge for 30 mins, heat oven to 180C/160F/Gas 4, then bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm.

Leave to cool a little, then paint the almond with food colouring, if you like.

Method - Brainballs

Place the popping corn and vegetable oil in a large pan set over a medium heat.

Stir the kernels around the pan to coat in the oil. When the kernels starts to pop, place a lid firmly on top and turn the heat down to low.

Cook, shaking the pan often to stop the popcorn burning or sticking, until the corn has stopped popping, about five minutes.

Tip into a bowl, discarding any unopened kernels.

Heat butter and marshmallows over a low heat until melted.

Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.

Lightly rub oil over your hands and shape the popcorn into small balls. Set aside on a tray lined with baking parchment and leave to set.

Knutsford Guardian:



Make your own monsters. Makes 12


200g soft butter

175g golden caster sugar

250g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2tsp vanilla extract 100ml milk, at room temperature

To decorate

300g icing sugar, sifted

2-3tbsp milk

Green food colouring paste

36 mini marshmallows, 12 snipped in half

Tube of black piping icing or gel


Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with deep muffin cases.

Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add the remaining cake ingredients and beat until smooth.

Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into one of the middle cakes comes out clean.

Cool for five minutes in the tin, then completely on a wire rack.

Using a small, sharp serrated knife, cut a semi-circle piece of cake from the left and right of each cake, to make stepped edges, level with the cupcake case.

Next, make a widthways cut about 3cm from the top of the cake, about 1cm deep.

Slice a 5mm piece off the surface of the cake to meet this cut, to make a flat, raised face and prominent forehead.

Chill for 10 minutes to firm the crumbs.

Mix the icing sugar, milk and green colouring to make a very thick icing that flows slowly from the spoon.

Spoon one tablespoon onto a cake and let it begin to spread itself over the cut shape.

Ease it here and there with a palette knife to coat.

Add marshmallow neck bolts and eyes. Repeat for each cupcake.

Leave to set, then pipe on the faces and hair.

 Recipes courtesy of BBC Good Food Magazine. The 25th anniversary issue is on sale now, priced £3.99

Knutsford Guardian:




110g can smoked mackerel, flaked
1 tortilla wrap
1tsp light mayonnaise
Few snips of chives
4 baby gem lettuce leaves


Slice the tortilla wrap into long, thin strips about 5mm wide. 

Mash the mackerel and shape into 4 ‘mummies’. Gently wrap the tortilla strips around each mummy, folding the ends underneath and leaving space for the eyes. 

Pipe 2 small dollops of mayonnaise onto each ‘mummy’ to make the eyes and top each with a small piece of chive. Serve each on a lettuce leaf.


Toasting your ‘mummies’ in a hot, dry frying pan for 20 seconds on each side will firm up the wrap and give them an authentic aged look. As an alternative to mayonnaise, use low-fat soft cheese, soured cream or tomato ketchup.

Recipe courtesy of Seafish.

Knutsford Guardian:




300g white fish, cut into finger-sized pieces
1 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil plus extra to grease
3 tbsp plain flour
1 large egg, beaten
50g breadcrumbs
Skin from 1 large tomato, cut into finger nail shapes
4tbsp tomato ketchup, to serve
Lettuce leaves, to serve


Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/gas mark 6. Lightly grease a large baking tray with oil.

Season the flour with a little salt and pepper and place in a wide, shallow bowl. Place the egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.

Working in batches, coat the fish strips in the seasoned flour, then in the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Arrange the ‘fish fingers’ in a single layer on the baking tray.

Drizzle with the 1 tbsp of oil and bake for about 10 minutes, turning over halfway until the fish is firm and cooked through.

Serve immediately, topped with a piece of tomato skin at the end of each finger to make a nail, and served with the tomato ketchup and the lettuce.


As an alternative to ketchup, try homemade tomato sauce or salsa. This goes well with oven-baked wedges or mashed potatoes and baked beans or peas.

Recipe courtesy of Seafish.

Knutsford Guardian:




12 king prawns
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 cm piece root ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1.5kg butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and diced
400ml tin reduced-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1tsp brown sugar, or to taste
1 tsp garam masala


Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and fry the onion, ginger and curry paste over a medium heat for 1 minute. Add the squash and stir to coat.

Add 1 litre water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the squash has softened.

Transfer to a blender or liquidiser and blend until smooth. Return to the pan, stir in the coconut milk and season with the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, to taste. Heat through.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Dust the prawns in the garam masala and fry in the oil on both sides for a few minutes. When cooked skewer the prawns on cocktail sticks and serve with the soup.


For a halloween wow factor, serve in a hollowed out pumpkin brushed with oil and roasted in the oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Seafish.

Knutsford Guardian: