What’s this? What’s this?
There are objects so peculiar, they were not to be believed
All round, things to tantalize my brain!
~ Town Meeting Song
I love this movie way too much and I know it. So after my millionth or so viewing, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of the memorable food moments from the movie.
Reminder: Please read the entire recipe before proceeding. I try my best to offer substitutions for allergy/intolerance-triggering foods, but it is up to you to double-check for anything that I may have missed.
1) Snake & Spider Stew (with cheesy Oogie Boogie dice!)
2) Sally’s Worm’s Wart Soup
3) Gluten-Free Breadstick Bones
4) Puffed Rice Cereal Character Shapes
Well if I’m feelin’ antsy
and there’s nothin’ much to do,
I might just cook a special batch
of snake and spider stew.
~Oogie Boogie Song (verse cut from original movie)
Did I also mention that I listen to the movie’s soundtrack way too much? Snake & Spider Stew had to be my first option as it’s mentioned twice though never seen. I figured, though, that it should be something red and orange to go along with Halloween Town’s decor.
However, tomato soup can be very hard on the esophagus, so to substitute, I would use a carrot and ginger soup and use food dye to make it blood red.
I particularly enjoyed how the spaghetti squash gives this stew a wiggly appearance and while the cheese decoration makes for a delicious spider!
Snake & Spider Stew
Serving size: 1
Time: 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes to cook
- 1/2 spaghetti squash
- 4 ounces of skinless, boneless chicken thighs (thawed)*
- 1-2 cups of roasted red pepper and tomato soup (gluten-free)**
- 1 handful of spinach
- 2 medium-sized carrots, sliced
- 2-inch block of cheddar cheese***
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 TBS oregano
- 1 TBS olive oil
- Optional: 1 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder & paprika
1) Cook your spaghetti squash by pricking holes all over the skin with a knife, placing it on an aluminium-lined baking sheet, and baking in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. Alternatively, you can prick the squash and then zap it in the microwave for 10 – 20 minutes. Just make sure you don’t touch it immediately afterward as it will be extremely hot!
2) Once the squash has cooled, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Save the seeds for later – you can toast them like pumpkin seeds for an extra snack!
3) Using a fork, scrape out all of the squash’s flesh. It should part from the skin literally looking like spaggeti strands. Place about half of the squash’s flesh in a bowl and store the other half.
4) Add spinach, carrots, and 1/2 TBS olive oil to the bowl of squash and toss. Place in a pot on medium heat and cook until the spinach leaves shrink and carrots and squash are tender.
5) Meanwhile, cut up the chicken thighs into small chunks and cook in a pan over medium-high heat with 1 TBS olive oil, 1/2 cup of the soup, and all of the spices.
6) Once chicken has cooked completely, combine it in the pot of vegetables and the rest of the soup, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes, remove pot from heat and pour into a bowl.
7) At this point, you’ll want to take the block of cheese and, using a sharp knife, cut it into smaller 1/2-inch cubes while making sure that you save a little bit of cheese for shredding.
8) Use a toothpick to create dice-like holes in each of the mini cheese cubes. Place your “dice” into a small serving dish or bowl.
9) Grate a small portion of the cheese. Roll half of the cheese shreds into a large ball for a spider’s abdomen, and roll about a third of it into a smaller ball for a spider’s head. Use the remaining shredded cheese to create long legs.
10) Place your cheese-spider on top of the stew, along with a couple of dice, and serve immediately. It will melt pretty quickly into the stew, but the dice should keep its shape longer. Either way, it’s a fun addition to the soup.
Alternative Ingredients & Notes:
*Meat: Pan fry tofu instead of chicken for a vegetarian option
**Tomatoes: Use a carrot and ginger soup instead if you cannot handle tomatoes.
***Cheese: Depending on your allergy or intolerance, you could use either sheep cheese or a vegan cheese substitute such as rice cheese.
Dr. Finkelstein: “Ah, what’s that? Worm’s wart – mmm! And frog’s breath.”
Sally: “What’s wrong? I-I thought you liked frog’s breath!”
Dr. Finkelstein: “Nothing’s more suspicious than frog’s breath! Until you taste it, I won’t swallow a spoonful.”
~ Sally and Dr. Finklestein
In this classic scene, Sally poisons-er-knocks out her creator so she can go to the town meeting. Since we can infer that worm’s wart is something appetizing and frog’s breath has a strong cover-up scent, we can mimic this moment by using strong spices to liven up a soup base.
The color of Sally’s soup is a pea green, but I’m not a fan of split-pea soup so I opted for a butternut squash soup base with some spinach to color it. Cumin, ginger, and cinnamon act as the “frog’s breath” portion as those three spices can be pretty overpowering. However, we’re using no more than a tablespoon’s worth to ensure that we can still enjoy the squash flavor. Plus spinach adds that “deadly nightshade” aspect without, you know, being deadly.
Sally’s Worm’s Wart Soup
Serving Size: 1
Time: 3 minutes
- 2-3 cups of butternut squash soup (gluten-free)
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 TBS cinnamon
- 1 TBS ginger
- 1 TBS cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
1) Run spinach through a food processor until it is super fine.
2) Add soup and spices into the food processor and run on “Stir” for about 30 seconds. If the color isn’t quite “green” enough, you can add a couple of droplets of food dye.
3) Place the contents of the food processor into a bowl and microwaeve for 2 minutes, stirring every minute.
Zero is Jack’s faithful ghost dog with a pumpkin nose so bright, he lights Jack’s way in that coffin sleigh on Christmas night.
He also enjoys chasing after Jack’s rib bones too.
There are also several other times when bones are used, such as Sally’s gift to Jack while he’s trying to make sense of Christmas and when the reindeer skeletons are being created by Dr. Finkelstein.
So we couldn’t enjoy our soup and/or stew without a couple of breadstick bones, could we?
Gluten Free Breadstick Bones
Serving Size: 4
Time: ~3 hours (most of which is time for the dough to rise)
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 TBS sugar
- 1 TBS active yeast*
- 3 cups brown or white rice flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Water for boiling
- 2 TBS baking soda
- Optional: soy or almond milk for browning
- Optional: salt and/or garlic to taste
1) Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let mixture sit for about 5 minutes to help the yeast activate.
2) Combine all of the flours, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
3) Add olive oil and yeast mixture, stirring everything together until you have a ball of dough. If the dough won’t form into a ball, add more tapioca flour.
4) Knead the dough for about a minute, then loosely cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 45-60 minutes.
5) Divide the dough into several pieces and shape into your favorite Nightmare bones! I re-created the fish that Sally puts in a basket for Jack while he was trying to figure out Christmas, as well as bones for Zero, and Jack’s head and hand. You could really do any shape you want from the movie. I couldn’t quite figure out how to do the skeleton reindeer’s head, but I’m sure it’s possible. The nice thing about making bones out of gluten-free dough is that any cracks that appear will only make the bones more realistic.
6) Cover all of your bones with a moist paper towel and let them sit for about 1 1/2 hours. (We want the dough to rise again after being shaped, and gluten-free dough takes a lot of time to rise.)
7) While the dough is rising, place a large pot on the stove and fill it 2/3 full of water and with the baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
8) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
9) When the dough is done rising, place the bones into the boiling water for no more than 60 seconds. (This processes keeps the bones chewy on the inside, like a bagel.) After being boiled, place the bones onto the parchment-covered baking sheet.
10) Let the bones cool for about a minute. If you want to brown the bones or add salt and/or garlic, now is the time to brush on your non-dairy milk of choice and seasonings.
11) Place baking sheet into the oven for about 10-12 minutes. The bones should be slightly golden-brown with a hard outer shell.
Alternative Ingredients & Notes:
*Yeast: A good yeast-alternative recipe can be found here.
Please keep breadsticks stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator if they are not going to be consumed right away. When you’re ready to eat them again, it’s best to toast them first.
`Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems,
in a that place perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams.
For the story that you’re about to be told
began with the holiday worlds of old.
Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays come from.
If you haven’t, then I’d say its time you’ve begun.
For the holidays are the result of much fuss
and hard work for the worlds that create them for us.
Well, see now quite simply that’s all that they do,
making one unique holiday especially for you.
But once a calamity ever so great
occurred when two holidays met by mistake.
~ Opening/Prologue from the Nightmare soundtrack
The best way to celebrate that mistake? Dessert!
I was originally going to make character shapes out of sugar cookie dough, but I’ll be doing that a lot in December so I opted for a gluten-free version of Rice Krispie Treats.
And lots and lots of icing! (Though I am in no way an icing artist.) :)
Puffed Rice Cereal Character Shapes
Servings size: One piece. Total about of pieces vary, depending on how you cut your shapes.
Time: ~50 minutes (30 of those minutes are for setting)
- 3 TBS butter or margarine*
- 1 package regular-sized marshmallows
- 1 box of gluten-free puffed rice cereal (11.5 oz-sized box)
- 1 TBS nondairy milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Food dye**
- Zip-lock bags
1) Melt butter or margarine in a large pan, using low heat. You don’t want to burn it or the marshmallows.
2) Add marshmallows and stir frequently until they have completely melted.
3) Remove from heat and add in all of the puffed rice cereal. Stir until everything has been coated in your marshmallow mixture.
4) Grease a 9X13 inch pan. Cover your hands with zip-lock bags and pour out the messy mixture into the pan. Gently flatten the mixture so that your giant treat is as even as possible.
5) Let it cool for about 30 minutes. At this point you can cut into squares or use metal cookie-cutters to create shape outlines. I’d advise against plastic since the treats are much stiffer than sugar cookie dough.
6) Create the icing and place into a zip-lock bag. You’ll want to make this icing recipe once per color. How many colors you want to make is up to you. I made the following colors: white, blue, dark green, red, orange, yellow. So I made the icing recipe 6 times.
7) Snip off the very tip of one of the zip-lock bag corners. Use these bags to pipe the icing onto your treats. This will take some practice, but remember that you must create your background first. For example, when I made Jack and Zero’s faces, I had to cover the treats with white icing and let it harden before adding facial features. I also added a carob chip for Jack’s eyes to make them stand out more.
Alternative Ingredients & Notes:
*Dairy: Use a vegetable oil-based margarine or a vegan butter spread instead.
**Food dye: Use a vegetable-based food dyes if you have problems with dyes such as Red 40. I’ve seen them at specialty stores like Whole Foods.
Merry Halloween and Happy Christmas!
*Disclaimer reminder: The Nightmare Before Christmas, movie and soundtrack, is copyright to Tim Burton, Disney, and Danny Elfman. All cited excerpts were used to demonstrate that I actually watched the movie/listened to the soundtrack. I merely drew inspiration from said movie to create these meals. The copyright notation on the photographs on this page exist to prove that the recipes I created are actual meals.
*Please note that should you create these meals, you are doing so and consuming them at your own risk. Also, I am still not a medical professional.