Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Fun

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but you'll rarely find me donning a costume. As I sit here, I wonder what it is that I love so much about Halloween. The fact that it falls in the autumn, my favorite time of year, is definitely a factor. I love the excitement of children as they anticipate their costumes and all the candy that they'll consume. I love pumpkins and all the fall colors. And I love our annual Halloween party.
The last year that we lived in Whittier (2002), we decided to have a Halloween open house. We invited our friends from church, work, and school, and told the neighborhood to stop by for chili on Halloween night. It was so much fun that I promptly declared it a tradition. (My family will tell you that I am famous for declaring traditions after one time. I see no problem with it, if it's something you want to do again, but I do get a lot of razzing from my brothers and husband about this habit of mine.)
However, the first couple of Halloweens after we moved north were not conducive to an open house. The first year, we moved from an apartment to a house the weekend before Halloween, and we were still unpacking. The next year, we had a less-than-a-week-old baby. But by 2005, we were ready to introduce the Halloween Open House to our friends here. We printed up invitations for the first couple of years, and invited everyone we knew to stop by during the evening's festivities for hot dogs, chili, and homemade root beer. It was a hit! The first year, we had about 60 people come. By the next year, we had more like 80. This year, I just sent out evites and hope that word of mouth will reach everyone else.
So, if you don't live close enough to come to our party, maybe you should host your own. All you need is to make a pot of chili, drag your bbq out to the front porch, brew up some rootbeer, and get ready for guests! We do ask our guests to bring a treat to share, but even the year we didn't request it, many of them brought food along anyway. If you haven't gotten out invitations, you can just invite the neighbors in when they come by with their trick-or-treaters.
Last year, our boys decided to make their bedroom into a spook alley and they have been talking about it ever since! I love that they would rather be home at our party than out trick-or-treating (they do go to a church trunk-or-treat on the weekend before,) and that we can spend the evening with friends we love and with people we want to know better.
So come to our Open House or host your own. It's a great way to catch the spirit of Halloween fun. If only I had Morgan to decorate for me!

 Halloween Chili
  • 7 lbs. good quality ground beef
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 c. chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 3 14 oz. cans Mexican stewed tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 6 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans corn kernels, drained
  • 2 cans beef broth (you might not need all of it.)
To make this recipe, you need an enormous stock pot or two. It serves about 70 people, so cut it down if your party is smaller.
Brown the ground beef for about 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic and continue to brown 5 minutes more. Add all the peppers and continue to saute until the meat is all brown and the onions and peppers are soft. Drain off as much of the fat as you can. Add chili powder, cumin, and cocoa powder. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and beans and half of the beef broth. Cook for 1-2 hours, simmering on very low heat, adding beef broth as needed to keep it from burning.
Serve with sour cream, chives, onions, and cheese on the side.   (Recipe from my friend, Erin!)

(Pictures are from Halloweens past and the last one is from our trunk-or-treat last weekend. Anyone who has tried to pose four kids in costumes before letting them loose on a party will sympathize with me--this was the best shot I got out of five attempts!)

16 comments:

Mahina said...

wow! you are one brave soul! that is a big undertaking! we are boring around our house. trunk or treating is enough for us! wish we could stop by and try some of your chili! sounds delish!

happy halloween!

Christine said...

thanks for the chili recipe- I absolutely love your chili!

scrap chair potato said...

That sounds like so much fun. I am tempted to make it a new tradition here! (I make things a tradition after one successful event also)
Your children look adorable. My son has already made me show him the picture of "Dash" three times.

Anonymous said...

In our family, anything we like is a tradition, even the first time!
Nancy

snelgrove said...

Michal, You finally gave me a long blog to read :) I was going through withdrawls. The kids look great, Livee is in love with Ian ... she loves cowboys. Sorry can't make it to the party, we are going to be taking care of the ghost and ghoulies in our own neighborhood. Last thing, I need a really yummy, scrumptious, delicious LOW FAT dessert receipe. Maybe something chocolate or pumpkinny. Miss you guys. Love much Tawny

Michal said...

mahina--i don't know about brave . . . just crazy. and i love a good party.

Michal said...

christine,
thanks for loving my chili. you'll have to look at my post "autumn" for the vegan chili that your hubby will eat. i'll have some of that at the party too, so tell him not to stay away.

Michal said...

scrappy,
give in to the temptation. it is so much fun and not as much work as some parties. my house is never quite as clean as i would like it, but if you get enough people crammed in, you hardly notice! our party spreads from the front lawn, through the house, and into our wilderness backyard.

Michal said...

nancy,
yeah! you actually posted a comment!
i knew i liked your family. thanks for backing me up on the traditions thing.

Michal said...

snelgrove,
yeah! a comment! that just feeds my desire to post more, so keep it up! i'll get a post up with a lowfat dessert as soon as possible, just for you.
wish you could come to the party. we miss you. especially henry.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Michal,

Four kids in Halloween costumes - and a photograph!! You deservea parenting gold medal for that level of fortitude!

The novel's over (kicks up heels) and I'm back in blogland!!

Enjoyed your post and your humour. Have a great Halloween.

Keep smiling

David

Michal said...

david,
welcome back! i can't wait to read the novel!

Morgan said...

I wish we had the room to host an open house! That would be soo fun! Wish we lived closer so we could come crash your party : )

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

xoxo

Can't wait to try your chili!

Michal said...

morgan,
aren't you moving this week? i think you have enough to do this year without attempting an open house anyway! but i do wish you could come to ours. we keep watching for you in the audience of dwts. i can't believe that sabrina went home last night.

Kaylyn said...

My goodness. Wasn't it just a couple years ago your Mother and I were dressing you children up and taking you to the Halloween Carnival at the Whittier 6th Ward chapel? It is so fun to watch you and Morgan do it, now. Something very comforting about seeing the traditions continue, watching you seem so much like we were then .... and at the same time, it's just a little bittersweet. XXOO

Michal said...

kaylyn,
one of my most vivid memories of halloween in my early childhood was one night when i was five years old and a mean old witch came to visit. i was terrified, and my mother's assurances that it was just kaylyn didn't help a bit! to this day my memory's version of that costume is very distinct and remains my standard for a great witch costume. i have no idea if i remember what you looked like accurately, but the picture is there!