When Halloween falls on a weeknight, it's a mad dash to get kids home, fed and in costume before embarking on an evening of tricks and treats. But thanks to two pantry staples — ramen and a can of French onion soup — a warm, filling meal can be on the table before you can say "No more candy." Obviously, there's no need for dessert.
Note: Using thick slices of leftover ham is ideal, but ham steaks work well, too. If you don't have black food dye, it's easy to mix your own with 3 parts blue food dye, 2 1/2 parts red and 1 part green. Adjust until you get the desired shade. Recipe from Maruchan. Plastic Baling Wire
• 2 (3-oz.) packages of beef-flavor ramen noodle soup
• Black food dye (see Note)
Coat a skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Crack eggs, separating the whites from the yolks, into a bowl; reserve yolks for another use. Pour egg whites into the skillet and let cook for 2 minutes.
Once eggs are cooked, gently remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board. Cut out several small circles, reserving the scraps, and let cool. Place a peppercorn in the middle of each egg round.
Place ham slices on a cutting board and cut out several ham bones with a bone-shaped cookie cutter. (Alternatively, trace a bone shape onto a piece of parchment and use as a template to cut ham slices.)
Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add in the packets of ramen noodles. Cook noodles for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add flavor packets and mix well. Stir in 10 to 15 drops of black food dye and continue to mix well.
Transfer the dyed noodles and broth into serving bowls. Mix in egg white scraps, if desired. Add ham "bones," egg eyes and top with cilantro.
• 1 (10 1/2-oz.) can condensed French onion soup
• 8 oz. thinly sliced deli-style roast beef
• 1 (16 oz.) pkg. refrigerated biscuit dough (jumbo-sized, 8 biscuits)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat soup and water in medium saucepan until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the beef. Cook 2 minutes or until beef is hot. Remove beef from soup and cool slightly; keep soup warm.
Meanwhile, pat or roll the biscuit dough into 8 (5 1/2- by 4-inch) ovals. Arrange 4 biscuit ovals on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Divide the cheese evenly among the 4 biscuits, cutting to fit, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Divide the beef evenly among the biscuits.
Place remaining biscuit ovals on top of beef. Press to seal edges. Push the bottom of the oval inward to form a "skull" shape. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut eyes, nose and mouth into the dough. Brush with egg wash if desired.
Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the reserved soup mixture for dipping.
Nicole Ploumen Hvidsten is the Star Tribune's Taste editor and senior editor of Star Tribune Magazine. In past journalistic lives she was a reporter, copy editor and designer — sometimes all at once — and has yet to find a cookbook she doesn't like.
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