The Block

Dad’s Cooking Tonight: Halloween Meal Ideas


How to make a gourmet family meal for the month of monsters

Make it easy, make it fun and make it delicious.

That’s how I approach my once-a-month endeavor known as “Dad’s Cooking Tonight.” If I can succeed with those three things, the family meal is a success, and I’m invited back to the kitchen the following month.

The “easy” and “delicious” parts are serendipitously easy … and delicious because I have a reliable go-to for that. As I’ve mentioned, my limited access to the kitchen is matched by my equally limited cooking abilities. So I go with a sure thing and shop for my “Dad’s Cooking Tonight” meals at Omaha Steaks. I know it’s going to be convenient. And I know it’s going to be gourmet quality.

The tricky part to this three-piece equation is the “fun.” How do I create a dinner that’s fun for my kids? I get one shot a month, so I want it to be noteworthy. So for October, I came up with some Halloween meal ideas that fit with the month’s haunting themes.

Web Window Shopping … for Claws

My first stop is the Omaha Steaks website. I like to click around the site and drool over the mouth-watering photos. This time out, I was in search of food that would jive with the scary Halloween vibe I was creating.

Found it: Snow Crab Cocktail Claws. I had been eyeing the weighty nuggets of rich, seafood goodness for a long time, but I had never tried them. They come with the shell cracked and partially removed for easy access to the luscious, sweet meat. And with those claws – perfect for a monster-like effect!

Omaha Steaks Snow Crab Cocktail Claws

A Cauldron of Cocktail Claws

We’ll Need Some Eyeballs, Too

Next, how about some of those Jumbo Bacon-Wrapped Scallops? Mmmm. Wrapped in savory bacon, these plump and fresh ocean gems are amazing. Plus, they make really cool ghoul eyeballs. I also ordered Asparagus Spears with Hollandaise Sauce in an effort to include a veggie. My daughters, 5 and 11, did eat some – after I made a skull and crossbones with the spears and hollandaise sauce – with two scallop eyeballs (pan-seared) that I had set aside!

Ghoulish Scallops and Asparagus

Now, what to do with these two gourmet lovelies …  It’s fall, and since my family loves hearty soups, I decided to make a seafood gumbo – with claws and eyeballs!


Keeping It Simple

As previously disclosed, I have zero culinary training, so I’m not about to attempt a homemade gumbo roux. I went straight for a “gumbo kit” in a box – in this case, a Gumbo Mix from the grocery. I’ve used it in the past, and it’s a good, zingy base.

I added in a 1-pound package of Snow Crab Cocktail Claws and a tray of Jumbo Bacon-Wrapped Scallops (remove the toothpicks) plus two cups of fresh okra and then cooked it up in my witch’s caldron. You have one of those, right?




Halloween Gumbo with Scallops and Crab Claws


The Haunting Halloween Theme Continues

I kept the spooky theme going by making a pan of hotdog mummies, those easy-to-make franks with dough wraps (see accompanying photo) that are popular this time of year. Only I used the Bison Franks from Omaha Steaks’ Golden Plains (find them on the main website). Naturally smoked, skinless and fully cooked, these massively plump perfections – mummified – were an ideal add-on to this meal.

Mummy-Wrapped Bison Franks

Mummy-Wrapped Bison Franks

Trick or Treat?

Treat – definitely a treat. The gumbo was amazing. The seafood flavors from the crab claws and the scallops were luscious and ever-so-delectable, especially combined with the spiced gumbo roux. And the bacon from the scallops added a nice flavor to the stew as well.

The best part? The succulent crab claws sticking out of our bowls. My daughters weren’t sold on the meal initially, but once they pulled a crab claw out and took a bite they were hooked. As for Mom and Dad – we were in seafood gumbo heaven with every bite of scallop and crab mixed with a spoonful of rice and roux. Sooooo good.

Easy, Delicious, Fun

The mummy Bison Franks were a hit, too, especially with my daughters. They were fast and easy to make, and they were delicious. What about that last part to my three-piece recipe for a Dad’s Cooking Tonight success? Oh yes, they – along with this entire meal – were most certainly fun.

My Omaha Steaks Ingredients:
– 1 (1 lb. pkg.) Snow Crab Cocktail Claws
– 1 (9.5 oz. tray) Jumbo Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
– 8 (3 oz.) Bison Franks
– 2 (6 oz. trays) Asparagus Spears with Hollandaise Sauce

I Also Used:
– 2 boxes of Store-Bought Gumbo Mix:
It’s a simple process. Just mix in two boxes of ingredients with 12 cups of water in an 12-quart stock pot and bring to a boil. I’m usually the kind of guy who likes to add extra spices to such pre-mixes, but this one doesn’t need it.
Then reduce heat and add in the Jumbo Bacon-Wrapped Scallops (remove the toothpicks) and Snow Crab Cocktail Claws. I also added two cups of fresh okra (love my okra!). I stewed the entire concoction covered for about 90 minutes to give the flavors time to mingle and get to know each other. Then I transferred it all to a witch’s caldron for serving. Because, you know, Halloween.

– White Rice (I made four cups, which was more than enough. I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS make too much rice. For us, I added a healthy ice-cream-scoop of rice to each bowl of gumbo.
– Slice some lemons for a squeeze or two of additional zest in your gumbo.

Mummy Bison Franks

While the gumbo was cooking I made these tasty dogs. I used one container of Seamless Dough Sheets. Roll out the sheet of dough and cut into half- to quarter-inch strips for the mummy bandage. Then wrap the franks in the bandage (dough). Leave spaces as seen in the accompanying photos.

The dough obviously expands when you cook it, so wrap accordingly. I put the wrapped franks on the baking pan/sheet and cooked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Add a couple of drops of mustard for eyes and ketchup (for the blood!). That got a couple of “Ewwwws!” from my girls!

Evidence of Dad’s Cooking Success!

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