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Simple and Spooky Halloween Crowd Pleasers

I didn’t even buy a Halloween costume this year.  Disgraceful. Unacceptable.  I’m madly ashamed of my Halloween spirit-or lack thereof.  I had all the plans in the world to dress up as a character I was sure no one else would be.  Had already planned and envisioned the costume from head to toe.  Yet, I did nothing.  Without a single tempting Halloween party and having lost even the slightest interest in hitting the bars in camouflage, I was in complete ignorance that one of my favorite holidays was rapidly approaching.  And then it was just too late.  On Sunday morning, I devastatingly scrolled through my Facebook news feed envious of all of my friends and acquaintances decked out in obscene, sexy and down right scary gear.  Dang.  No Halloween for Les this year.

But not so fast.  Who’s to say I couldn’t throw a little impromptu shindig of my own on Halloween night?  A little distraction…or a “pick me up” if you will…from the constant getting up and sitting down with each door bell ring.  Secretly, I was devious enough to scheme my way out of trick-or-treat doorbell duty.  Heck, if I was the hostess with the “mostess,” I’d simply be too busy sipping on cider and refilling chips and dip to deal with the juveniles on my front porch. 

I concocted two Halloween inspired appetizers to begin an intimate evening gathering.  A black and orange seafood pasta is also planned but will be appear on "Dash of Les" at a later date.  I must warn you, being cheesy with food (even if it is for a commercialized holiday) is not my thing.  So please bare with me as I put on my Rachael Ray face for these simple (and spooky) starters. 

Rotten Jack (Olive Tapenade)


1 Orange bell pepper (for decoration purposes only)

1 cup Kalamata olives

½ cup Black olives

½ cup Green olives

3 tablespoons Capers

4 cloves garlic

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons EVOO
salt and pepper

¼ cup feta or parmesan  (if desired)


1)   Place garlic cloves in a blender and pulse 2-3 times.

2)   Add all other tapenade ingredients (except for cheese) and pulse until coarsely chopped. 

3)   Wash orange bell pepper and with a small, sharp paring knife, carefully cut off the top of the pepper and then cut eye, nose and mouth openings.  Remove all seeds from the inside.

4)   Stuff “Jack” with his rotten insides.

5)   Top with crumbled feta or grated Parmesan if desired.

6)   Serve with crostini or crackers.

 Sasquatch Spicy Spinach Swamp 


1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach

1 can artichoke hearts

1 poblano pepper

½ cup cream cheese

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese

½ cup parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 asparagus spears, steamed until wilted (for decoration only)

Sriracha hot sauce (for decoration only)

1) Roast your poblano pepper ahead of time until barely charred. (I usually cook mine in a pan at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning it once with tongs). After cooked, let poblano sit (and sweat) for 15 minutes and then remove skin.

2) Microwave the spinach on a plate. Then, squeeze all of the liquid from the spinach. Add to a blender.

3) Drain artichokes and add to blender.

4) Cut the stem from the poblano and discard all (or most) the seeds. Keep some seeds if you like it hot. Roughly chop the poblano and add to the blender. Pulse all 3 ingredients until combined and in small pieces.

5) To a mixing bowl, add mayo, cream cheese, sour cream, minced garlic and grated pepper jack. Then add the spinach, artichoke and poblano mixture to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and add to an oven safe casserole dish.

6) Top dip with the parmesan cheese and red pepper flake and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

7) For Halloween purposes, place your asparagus spears into the dip at different lengths (for fingers). Dot each finger with Sriracha (the bloody nail). Now you have a green monster in your scary spicy swamp!

8) Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, veggies and/or crostini.

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