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Halloween is right around the corner, so here are some recipes to get you into the spirit of the season! Enjoy!

Three-Layer Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 stick of butter

2 cups Bisquick

2 cups milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

3 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

For first layer: In a 9x13-inch casserole dish, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Spread shredded chicken evenly over the butter. Sprinkle black pepper and dried sage over this layer; do not stir.

For second layer: In small bowl, gently mix milk and Bisquick. Slowly pour the mixture over the chicken making sure that all of the chicken is covered; do not stir.

For third layer: Using a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of chicken broth, chicken bouillon granules and soup. Once blended, slowly pour over the Bisquick layer; do not stir.

Bake the chicken and dumpling casserole for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Yield: approximately 8 to 10 servings.

Baked Cheese Bites

1 package mozzarella string cheese

1 cup skim milk

1-1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs

1 jar marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut string cheese into 1 inch pieces. Add skim milk to a medium bowl and dip each piece of cheese into the milk to saturate the cheese. Next, pour the bread crumbs on a flat dish and roll each piece of cheese in the bread crumbs; make sure each piece is thoroughly in the Italian bread crumbs. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Serve with a side dish of Marinara Sauce for dipping. Yield: approximately 36 servings, depending on the amount of string cheese used.

Miniture Cream Cheese Pound Cakes with Pumpkin Glaze

1- 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Cooking spray

For Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree or fresh pumpkin

1 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat over at 350°. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well, Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears. Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until well blended; stir in vanilla and almond flavorings.

Prepare 2 muffin tins by thoroughly spraying each cup with cooking spray. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling three-fourths full; do not overfill. Bake for approximately 16 to 18 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 10 minutes; remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Remove cakes and put on a tray.

To make glaze: Mix powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, water, and cinnamon until well blended. Drizzle pumpkin glaze over cakes. Yield: 24 cakes.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cake Roll

3/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sifted confectioners’ sugar

Peanut butter whipped cream (recipe below)

Grease 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1- inch jelly-roll pan. Line bottom of pan with wax paper; lightly grease paper. Combine flour, the next 5 ingredients; set aside. Beat eggs in a small mixing bowl on high speed until very thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar dissolves. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture; spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake at 350˚ for about 20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched with finger. Loosen edges from side of pan; invert on towel sprinkled generously with confectioners’ sugar. Carefully remove wax paper. While hot, roll cake and towel together from narrow end in jelly-roll fashion. Cool on wire rack. Unroll cake; remove towel. Evenly spread Peanut Butter Whipped Cream on cake almost to edges. Starting at same narrow edge, roll up: place cake, seam side down on platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar; refrigerate until serving. Yield: 10 servings.

For peanut butter whipped cream:

1 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips

1/3 cup milk

15 large marshmallows

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make peanut butter whipped cream: Place peanut butter chips, milk and marshmallows in top of double boiler over hot, NOT BOILING, water. Stir until marshmallows and chips are completely melted; cool to lukewarm. Whip heavy cream until stiff; fold in vanilla and peanut butter mixture.

Halloween Pops-on-a-Stick

(A must for Halloween!)

Basic pop mixture:

1 (10-ounce) bag marshmallows

3 tablespoons margarine

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Nonstick cooking spray

8 large pretzel rods

Method: Line 2 jellyroll pans or pans with sides with wax paper. In pot, combine marshmallows with margarine. Over medium heat cook mixture stirring until melted, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cereal until combined. Cool 5 minutes. Coat 1-cup measuring cup and your hands with cooking spray. Divide cereal mixture into 8 equal portions by scooping 1 generous cup of cereal mixture and packing it to ¾ cup. Immediately form each portion into different shapes.

To make pumpkin pops , you will need:

Orange paste food coloring

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vegetable shortening

Method: Add enough food coloring with cereal to marshmallow mixture in basic pop to tint deep orange. Over 1 end of each pretzel rod shape each cereal portion into 3-1/2-inch wide 2-inch thick circle. Place on wax paper-lined pan. In plastic food storage bag, combine chocolate chips with shortening; in microwave, melt on medium 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Snip corner from bag; pipe eyes, nose and mouth on pumpkins. Let stand until set, at least 30 minutes.

To make ghosts , you’ll need:

4-inch strawberry fruit roll from 1 pouch (.75-ounce), such as Fruit by the Foot

1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

16 chocolate chips

8 “BOO”-shaped candy icing decorations

2 tablespoons white nonpareils or sprinkles

Method: Over 1 end of each pretzel rod shape each cereal portion into 5-inch tall, 3-inch wide bell-shape. With fingers, make indentations in shape to create wavy bottom. Place on rack set over jellyroll pan; let stand 20 minutes. For mouths, cut shapes from fruit roll; set aside. In pot combine white chocolate with shortening; over low heat melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon chocolate mixture over pops. For eyes, press chocolate chips, pointed ends down, into coating; attach mouths and “BOO” candies. Sprinkle nonpareils over bottoms of ghosts. Yield: 8 pumpkins, ghosts.

Kitchen Tip:

The shelf life of white flour is 1 to 2 years. To store it, transfer to tightly closed container to prevent moisture absorption. Keep in a cool dark spot.

Please send your email requests to, and write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” or “Helen’s Kitchen Recipe Exchange” in the subject line to make sure that I receive and promptly respond to your email.

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

5-7 cups 1-inch bread cubes (crusty, whole grain)

7 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping

1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cut any kind of bread into 1-inch cubes to fill a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish quite full. Using a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin puree and pie spice until well combined. Pour mixture over bread and push down with a spoon until the bread is thoroughly soaked and mostly covered. Cover with saran wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350°. Uncover and top with brown sugar, additional pumpkin pie spice and nuts (optional). Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bread is no longer wet.

Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered for up to a couple days. Yield: 10 servings.