3 Simple Halloween dinners

Yummy Mummy mini pizzas are Halloween treats that Yummy Mummy mini pizzas are Halloween treats that are sure to please. (October 2012) Photo Credit: Marge Perry

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Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

TIP: To top the soup with a cobweb pattern, place a small dollop of sour cream in the center of each bowl and use a knife to draw spokes from out to the edge of the bowl. Use the knife to pull several slightly arced lines from one spoke to the next to finish the cobweb.

1. YUMMY MUMMY MINI PIZZAS

1 cup bottled marinara sauce

4 multigrain light English muffins, split

6 ounces reduced-fat Cheddar or mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/8-inch thick by 1/4-inch wide strips

8 pimiento-stuffed green olives, cut across in half

4 black pitted Kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise

Miscellaneous vegetables for garnish

1. Line a baking sheet pan with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray. Preheat the broiler.

2. Spread thin layer of marinara on cut side of English muffins. Place cheese in zigzag pattern on top of marinara for "bandages." Place green olives, cut side facing up, on each pizza for eyes and a strip of black olive for mouth. Add garnishes such as scallions, celery and peas, to dress up faces as desired.

3. Place under the broiler until cheese just melts, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 298 calories, 17 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 941 mg sodium

2. CURRIED COCONUT-PUMPKIN SOUP

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1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

2 (15-ounce) cans pumpkin puree

1 (15.5-ounce) can lite coconut milk

2 tablespoons roasted

pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, 3 minutes until somewhat softened. Add the cumin, curry and flour and stir. Whisk in the broth in a slow, steady stream.

2. Stir in pumpkin and coconut milk. Bring to gentle simmer; immediately reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens, about 10 minutes. Transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and puree.

3. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and scallions. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 256 calories, 7 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 554 mg sodium

3. GHOSTLY SKILLET SUPPER

1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup 1 percent milk

2 tablespoons butter, cut in bits

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 pound (93 percent lean) ground beef

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 cup lower-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomato

1 cup thawed frozen carrots

1 1/4 cup thawed frozen peas, divided

1. Place potatoes in microwave-safe dish, cover loosely with a damp paper towel and cook, stirring once or twice, until very tender, about 9 minutes. Combine milk and butter in a small bowl and microwave until butter is melted, about 1 minute. Combine with potatoes, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and mash until smooth. (Add milk as needed to reach a smooth consistency).

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high; add onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes until somewhat softened. Add beef, breaking it into crumbles, and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, tomato paste, tomatoes, carrots and 1 cup of peas and cook until vegetables are tender and mixture is thickened, about 6 minutes.

3. Top mixture with 2-inch-wide dollops of mashed potatoes; top each with second 1 1/2-inch dollop and make a third smaller dollop, pulling spoon up at end to form a peak (the ghost's head). Place two peas on each to form eyes. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 456 calories, 29 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 18 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1,059 mg sodium

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