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Halloween Hassleback Sweet Potato Bugs

I’m not big on holidays, and neither is Ron…except for Halloween.  If we were retired millionaires, I think he would go all out with decorations and give every trick or treater that rang our doorbell 5 pounds of organic dark chocolate covered pistachios.
So when I told him that I wanted to do something to send to Matt and Stacy of Paleo Parents for their Halloween Recipe Round-up, he was afraid I was going to submit my Creepy Creature of the Sea Soup from last year:

The only recipe of mine on Tastespotting!!
And he just couldn’t let that happen.  So this one’s from Ron! 

In my job as chief debugger (nice pun eh!?) at Chowstalker, I occasionally play with the live site and follow the odd link.  One from Jan’s Sushi Bar caught my attention because it looked like a very large real bug of some kind.

I have never eaten a bug or grub or worm on purpose, (I can’t say that for Patty), but I hear that they are very nutritious.  We may eventually have a recipe category for that.  Until then, why not have some fun and make individual servings of nutritionally dense sweet potatoes that look revolting and cute at the same time.  The following is an experiment I did for Halloween, making four different kinds of “bugs”.  There was a savory version with garlic butter and Brussels sprouts or asparagus for legs, and a sweet version with honey butter and crispy apple slices or banana spears for legs.  Of course this recipe would be simpler if you decide to make just one kind instead of four like me.

Bodies :
4 small (long) sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
3 Brussels sprouts (cut in half after cooking)
6 asparagus tips
6 apple slices 
6 banana spears
10 pepperoni slices 
10 small cheese slices

2 Tablespoons cream cheese


6 raisins  
4 nuts 
2 small onion wedges 
2 small pepper wedges
2 pepper tips
4 small rosemary sprigs
whatever else you want to use that looks creepy and tastes good

2 garlic cloves (finely minced)
2 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup melted butter 
1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
1 medium sized casserole dish 
4 small serving plates
Melt the butter in two separate small pans.  Preheat convection oven to 400 F.  Wash and peel the sweet potatoes.  Slice into each sweet potato every 1/4 inch but don’t cut all the way to the bottom.  Leave a larger slice on the head (fat) end.  Coat the bottom of the baking dish with coconut oil.  Brush each potato with plain butter.  Bake until very soft all the way through (at least 1 hour).

(The picture shows a small knife, but I used a very large knife to make the cuts)

While they are baking, get all the other body parts ready:
Add the honey to one of the butter pans.  Add the minced garlic to the other butter pan.  Prepare and set out all the little parts to arrange on each plate just before serving.  Cut up or fold the pepperoni and cheese slices to sizes that will fit into the potato cuts.  Get the cream cheese handy.  Cut the apple and banana pieces and have them ready to arrange as legs.  When the potatoes are 99% done, steam your Brussels sprouts and asparagus.

When the potatoes are done you have to work quickly to assemble them so they don’t get cold before serving.  I put them together one at a time and took pictures, but doing it for real you would set up an efficient assembly line. After assembly, I generously drizzled hot garlic butter on the savory ones and hot honey butter on the sweet ones.

Here’s the final cast of characters:

Savory 1 
(pepperoni, Havarti, Brussels sprouts, sweet pepper, garlic butter)
 Savory 2
(pepperoni, Havarti, asparagus, onion, garlic butter)
 Sweet 1
(cream cheese, banana, cashews, raisins, honey butter)
 Sweet 2 
(cream cheese, apple, brazil nuts, raisins, honey butter)
The hardest part of this was quickly getting the stuffing into the cuts. I just used a couple of small knives, one to pry each cut open and the other to push the meat or cheese down into the gap.   Even though I planned on cutting the Brussels sprouts in half, they were still way too big.  Smaller vegetables or fruits and maybe more of them might work even better.  I used a short piece of a toothpick to hold the noses on and a dab of cream cheese to glue the eyes on.  You could also sprinkle some colorful spice like paprika or cinnamon in stripes on the back to give them more personality.  I suggest you practice once with this and find a flavor combination and technique that works for you.
Finally, the most fun part of this whole thing is to set a large “bug” down in front of each guest and don’t tell them what it is.  Here’s dinner!! … enjoy their reactions :-)

PS: Obviously I’m not a great food stylist and in retrospect, these “arrangements” look like a preschooler did them.  But that brings up another idea, you can either surprise your guests (or kids) with a realistic creepy presentation that you slaved over, or just set out all the body part options  (after baking) and turn the event into “edible art class”.  The potatoes would probably get cold but you can always stick them back in the oven for a few minutes.

Sharing with The Real Food Forager’s at the Fat Tuesday Forager Festival and Fresh Bites Friday!

13 Responses to Halloween Hassleback Sweet Potato Bugs

  1. AO October 16, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Creepy and cute at once! Bravo! :-P

  2. leslie October 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Thank you for this! I am collecting ideas for a Halloween post this week– will be linking to this one! Can’t wait to try it myself!

  3. Cole October 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    This is Cole’s response:
    “I like your bugs that are made out of food! I liked guessing what bugs they were. I want to make these too, thank you for the recipe. I’m going to make them with my dad.”

  4. KiwiGrower October 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Thanks for the positive comments.

    AO: Yeah, you can make them cute pretty easily. Even though “bugs” don’t have faces like ours, pretty much anything that has big eyes, a nose and mouth gets our attention.

    leslie: It was just a wild idea I had. and I hope your readers enjoy it. Thanks!

    Cole: Nice to hear from you! I visit your site quite a bit to see what kind of fun you guys are up to. The asparagus one looks like a lobster to me, and the apple one looks like a bee or something. I wanted the Brussels sprout one to look like a grub with stubby legs … it didn’t look so good, but it was the tastiest! I can hardly wait to see what you come up with.


  5. Jan October 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Oh, Patty – those are ADORABLE!!! Incredibly creative; I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of it. LOL And thank you SO much for the linky love. :)

  6. Jos October 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Patty these are AWESOME and they do not look like a preschooler who did them!! You should give yourself more credit for these creations!

  7. aseafish October 17, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Oh my! These are such a great combination of gross and delightful. I have to make them for Halloween.

  8. Patty October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    I promise this was all Ron! And he loves your site Jan…visits almost as often as I do.

    Jos, I’ll make sure he sees your comment. He is very humble, most of the time! :-)

    Thanks aseafish! You’ll probably find a way to improve them since this was the first time making them, so hopefully you can let us know how it goes.

  9. Jill October 19, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. These are amazing! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

  10. 4virtu October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Happy Tasty Tuesday! We love this recipe and it is featured on our Halloween Recipes! Thanks so much for sharing!


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