Menu planner: Halloween ghost brownies are more tasty than creepy

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes, desserts and sides to try.

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Halloween ghost brownies.

Halloween ghost brownies

Servings: 13

Preparation time: 15 minutes plus decorating time

Cooking time: 30 minutes


1 cup butter

1 2/3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

26 candy eyes

13 mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Coat with cooking spray. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring until blended. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in liquid mixture until batter forms. Spread evenly in pan; bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan. Using foil overhang, transfer brownie to wire rack to cool completely. Using a 2 1/2- or 3-inch tulip-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 13 ghosts. (Save scraps for crumbling over ice cream.) Spread whipped topping over tops of brownies. Add candy eyes and a mini chocolate chip mouth (flat side up).

Per serving: 326 calories, 4 grams protein, 18 grams fat (48 percent calories from fat), 10.7 grams saturated fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 262 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.

Tortellini soup

Makes: About 9 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes


3 (14-ounce) cans unsalted vegetable broth

2 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated spinach tortellini

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, with liquid

4 green onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

Freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Bring broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tortellini, tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with parmesan.

Per cup: 154 calories, 6 grams protein, 4 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.5.

Ginger sesame vegetable blend

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes


3 cups fresh broccoli florets

2 cups fresh snow peas

1 medium onion, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, peas, onion and bell pepper. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger and crushed red pepper; pour half over vegetables and toss to coat. Divide and center vegetables on 2 (18-by-24-inch) sheets heavy-duty foil; pour remaining soy mixture over vegetables. Double-fold tops and ends to allow heat circulation. Bake 10 to 15 minutes on a baking sheet. Open packets away from your face and serve.

Per serving: 68 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat (31 percent calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 148 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 0.5.

Creole eye of round roast

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Shake 3 tablespoons flour in a large (19-by-23 1/2-inch) oven bag; place bag in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. To bag, add 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced no-salt-added tomatoes with onions and garlic (or stewed tomatoes) and 3 teaspoons Creole or Cajun seasoning. Squeeze bag to blend in flour. To bag, add 1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) eye of round beef, 2 ribs celery (cut into 1/2-inch slices) and 1 medium red bell pepper (cut into strips). Turn bag to coat beef with sauce. Arrange ingredients in an even layer in bag. Close bag with nylon tie; cut 6 (1/2-inch) slits in top. Bake 60 to 75 minutes or until internal temperature of meat reaches 145 degrees. Thinly slice beef. Stir sauce; serve with beef. (Note: Don’t overcook! Eye of round beef is very lean and will toughen in a heartbeat.)

10-minute chili

In a large pot, combine 2 cups shredded cooked (leftover) beef, 2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed reduced-sodium pinto beans, 2 cups picante sauce (or chunky salsa) and 2 teaspoons chili powder. Cook over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until hot. Stir occasionally. Garnish with sliced green onions and reduced-fat sour cream.

Dippy chicken

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat chicken tenders with cooking spray, then cornflake crumbs. Bake 15 minutes, turning once. Make a dipping sauce from 2 parts apricot jam to 1 part mustard.

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