Easy, last-minute foods for a festive Halloween spread

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I have been feeling major Halloween vibes the past week. I think it's because the weather here in Florida finally decided to start feeling more like the end of October and less like the end of July, and between sweaters and bowls of candy and spooky decorations in my neighborhood, things are cozy AF right now. 

My husband and I are complete suckers for all holidays, and years ago we started really going in on  an elaborate Halloween food spread. Okay, maybe elaborate is the wrong word. More like supremely cheesy treats, you know like pizzas and hot dogs that look like mummies and apples cut to resemble vampire teeth. IT IS SO GOOFY AND SO FUN. 

Last year, we got married 3 days before Halloween, so our Oct. 31 was a real last-minute affair, notably lacking in any Witch Fingers, a.k.a. carrots. This year, there is still time. Here are five things I'll be making this evening as we prepare to hand out candy to the many kids who traipse around our Halloween-obsessed 'hood.

Mummy Pizzas

Make or buy your favorite pizza dough. I happen to have some in the freezer, which is why I opted for these over Mummies in a Blanket, another true Halloween food classic. You could also use storebought mini pitas. Whichever base you use, shape into small rounds and top with marinara sauce. Cover the bottom half with shredded mozzarella cheese. Place two sliced olives on the top half so they look like eyeballs, then strategically sprinkle more cheese around the eyes so it looks like a mummy's face. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, then serve.

Vampire Apples

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Core and cut a whole apple into about 8 even pieces. Working with two pieces at a time, smear some peanut butter on the most narrow end of the apple slice, then rest the second slice on top so that it forms what looks like an open mouth. Using slivered almonds, stick almonds carefully into the apple flesh so that they look like teeth. Alternatively, you can spread more peanut butter on the apple's surface, and apply marshmallows for the teeth. 

Batty Cheese Balls

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This one is really simple, but also really effective. You'll need 4 ounces goat cheese, 8 ounces cream cheese, a bag of blue corn tortilla chips, some olives and some jarred salsa. Mix the cheeses together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. Roll cheese into balls about the size of a quarter. Stick one tortilla chip, or broken pieces of tortilla chips for a smaller bat, into each side of the ball, so that they look like bat wings. Cut olives into tiny pieces, and apply two to each cheese ball so that they resemble eyes. Or, roll the ball in some crushed chocolate chips so that it's black all over. Spoon a little pool of salsa on a plate, then place cheese ball in the salsa, a.k.a. bat blood. Repeat with the rest of your batty balls.

Ghostly Bananas

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You can make this a cute-creepy dessert, or go really low key for an even healthier snack. Start by cutting a banana in half lengthwise, then cut in half the other way to make four quarters. Insert wooden sticks (popsicle, skewers, whatever you have) into the bananas. For the easiest version, press two mini chocolate chips into the top of the banana to make ghostly eyes, then press 3 or 4 below that to form a lil ghost smile. You're done!

Or, you can freeze those babies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. After about an hour, or even 30 minutes, they should be frozen enough. Meanwhile, melt some white chocolate. Dip the bananas into the chocolate, then place back onto the baking sheet. Use the chocolate chips to form a face before the chocolate cools, then freeze again until ready to eat.

Carrot Witch Fingers

You'll need whole carrots for this one. Cut each carrot in half, then use a vegetable peeler to start peeling the top half of the carrots. The goal is to taper the top half a bit so that it looks like a finger. When you've got your desired shape, add a dab of cream cheese to the top of the carrot and press a piece of slivered almond onto the cream cheese. This is the fingernail. Scoop a dip of your choice into a deep bowl, then place the carrots in the dip, fingernails up. 

BONUS: I'm also making a Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix using the seeds I roasted. Just mix pumpkin seeds, pretzels, dried cranberries, chocolate chips and pistachios in a bowl in relatively equal parts. Happy Halloween, festive foodies!