Tostada Smiles (Photo from California Olive Committee)

It's a safe bet you're looking at a Halloween recipe if the food is staring back at you.

For kids, it's all about the candy of course. But before you send your little monsters out the door for trick-or-treating, lure them to the kitchen for a hot meal that includes one of these easy, eye-catching recipes. Then see how fast they disappear.

Olives figure prominently into a couple of the recipes. Spooky Eyeball Tortellini, which forms its pasta-encased eyeballs out of string cheese and olives, comes from Three Bridges, makers of pastas and sauces. Tostada Smiles, from the California Olive Committee, uses olives to form a Jack-o'-lantern face, though for variety, you could sub out sweet pepper slices or dollops of sour cream to form the face.

We'll end with something deceptively sweet with a sneaky secret — a dessert with eyes, of a sort. These Black and White Cookies are made with — shh — potatoes.

The Idaho Potato Commission says that incorporating spuds into cookie batter gives the recipe extra moisture, resulting in softer, fluffier cookies with a longer-than-average shelf life. You can decorate them with more Jack-o'-lantern faces, cobwebs or spooky greetings.

The recipe's author, blogger Jenni Field, suggests icing them in white and orange and then providing black, orange and white icing for your kids to decorate however they like.

Then they'll be ready to send out the door for the candy crush.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6354.

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Spooky Eyeball Tortellini (Photo from Three Bridges)

Spooky Eyeball Tortellini

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yields: 6 servings

1 (18-ounce) package Three Bridges Triple Cheese Rainbow Tortellini

1 (15 ounce) package Three Bridges Heirloom Marinara Sauce

1 package string cheese

1 can black olives

Straws (at least 2 different thickness diameters)

Cook the tortellini per package instructions, drain well and keep warm.

Make the monsters: Slice the string cheese 1/4-inch thick.

Cut the olives in half.

Using the largest straw, punch out circles from the cheese discs — keeping the inner circle it forms. Using the same straw, carefully cut a circle out of the "top" of a cooked tortellini, discard the extra dough.

Using the smallest straw, punch out circle from the olives — keep the inner circle it forms. Using the same straw, cut a hole into one of the cheese discs you made in the previous step.

Place your small piece of olive into the circle in the cheese to form a white eyeball with a dark pupil. Now take your "eye" and fit it into the hole you make in the tortellini.

Repeat steps with cheese discs and olive pieces to make one-eyed tortellini monsters. Play around with various colors of tortellini and olives to make a colorful monster army.

In a saucepot, warm the marinara sauce.

To serve: Make a pool of marinara sauce, then add tortellini monsters on top.

— Recipe from Three Bridges


Tostada Smiles

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

4 tostada shells, prebaked

1/2 cup salsa

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup California Black Ripe Olives, sliced

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and on top line up tostada shells.

Spread each shell with 2 tablespoons of salsa and top with cup shredded cheese.

Finally, top each tostada with a smiley face made of sliced olives.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted, and serve.

— Recipe from California Olive Committee


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Black and White Cookies (Photo from Idaho Potato Commission)

Black and White Cookies

Blogger Jenni Field created this recipe for the Idaho Potato Commission.

For the cookies:

1 medium Idaho russet potato

5-6 ounces whole milk (use 5 ounces for thicker cookies and 6 ounces for thinner cookies)

6 ounces all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick unsalted butter at cool room temperature

6 ounces granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest of one lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

For the glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 tablespoon lemon juice from the lemon you zested earlier

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (use clear vanilla for the truest color)

3-5 teaspoons water, as needed

Orange food color

For the decorations:

Homemade or store-bought decorator icing in white, orange and black

Wash, peel and cut the potato into 1-inch pieces.

Place in a saucepan in lightly salted water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes or until potato pieces are easily pierced with a knife. Drain, cover, and return to low heat for 5 minutes to dry a bit.

Heat oven to 400 degrees, and set a rack in the top and bottom thirds. Line your cookie sheets/baking pans with Silpat or parchment, and set aside.

Mash well with a masher and measure out 2/3 cup (6 ounces) of mashed potato. Put in a bowl, and save the rest of the potato for another purpose. (I just make buttery mashed potatoes and eat them as a snack.)

Stir the milk (cold is fine) into the reserved mashed potatoes and set aside.

Whisk the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add the egg and beat until combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Mix in the mashed potato/milk mixture until combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add the flour/baking powder mixture all at once, and mix on low until combined. Scrape the bowl. The texture of your batter should be like very thick cake batter. It should flow a little bit but not be runny.

Portion cookies using a 2-ounce scoop for large cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies. Leave a good 2 1/2 inches between the cookies, especially if using 6 ounces of milk. You may need to bake a third round, so don't try to crowd the pans or the cookies will run into each other and end up with some flatter sides, and we want nice, round cookies.

Bake large cookies for about 16 minutes and smaller cookies for about 12 minutes. Rotate the pans and swap racks halfway through baking. The cookies are done when they are firm and barely starting to color on the tops and are a warm, deep golden brown on the bottoms.

Let cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes, and then carefully transfer them to racks to cool completely.

For the glaze:

Whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, salt, vanilla and a tablespoon of water until smooth. Add water a bit at a time until you have a spreadable consistency that will smooth out upon sitting — a very thick glaze.

Scrape half the glaze into a separate bowl. Color 1 bowl of glaze with orange color. Using an offset spatula, spread half of all the cookies with the white glaze, and let set up about 5 minutes. Spread the other half of all the cookies with orange glaze. Allow the glaze to harden for at least an hour, and then decorate as desired with white, orange and black decorating icing.

Note: To keep the cookies as consistent in size as possible, use cookie scoops of the right size. For large cookies, use a 2-ounce ( cup) scoop. For smaller cookies, use a 1-ounce (2 tablespoon) scoop.

— Recipe by Jenni Field for Idaho Potato Commission