Stephanie O'Dea's Make-Ahead Halloween Dinner

PHOTO: Stephanie O'Dea creates a healthy make-ahead Halloween dinner.
Mel Yates/Getty Images

With kids wired on candy, costumes to finish and faces to paint, it's hard to find time to get a healthy meal into your kids mouths on Halloween. Thankfully, with the help of your slow cooker, now you can.

Stephanie O'Dea, creator of the blog "A Year of Slow Cooking," offers her favorite make ahead Halloween recipes that give you plenty of time for face paint duty. Have your kids fill up on her nutritious soup, or make these caramel apples to give them a serving of fruit. Either way, this make ahead meal will give you plenty of time to take pictures and watch the school Halloween parade.

PHOTO: Stephanie O'Dea's caramel apples recipe.
Stephanie ODea

I try to be a pretty easygoing mom, but I must admit I only think of extreme stickiness and dental bills when my kids ask for caramel apples. During a bout of weakness (or temporary insanity), I gave in and said "yes." It was the right decision.

You should make them too. Try not to worry about the dripped caramel on the shag carpet -- it comes out with a baby wipe. Or scissors.

These are messy and sticky and absolutely wonderful. I am happy with the way the slow cooker melts the caramel evenly, and with low enough heat that the kids (school age and up) can make this with little grown-up help.

PHOTO: Stephanie O'Dea's pasta fagioli recipe
Stephanie ODea

Halloween is right around the corner, and one of my favorite tricks is to fill the kids up with a hot, flavorful soup before turning them loose to roam the streets for candy. This is a homemade knock-off of the Olive Garden's famous Pasta Fagioli. It's easy, makes a ton, and is a crowd-pleaser.

PHOTO: Stephanie O'Dea's witches brew recipe
Stephanie ODea

Happy almost-Halloween! This is a play-date favorite in our house. The last time I made this, I overheard my 5-year-old guests having the following coversation:

"It doesn't taste like there are spiders or lizards or bugs in it." "How did your mom even know how to make this?" "Is my tongue green yet?" "I've never had ice cream in a drink before." "I guess this is why witches have green faces."

This is a supereasy hot beverage to whip up, and tastes like a lovely citrus cocktail.

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