Robin Anish: Ghoulishly good stew for Halloween

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OK, this is going to date me. I remember my very first Halloween costume; I was an angel. It's been decades, I'm sure, since anyone has opened their door on Halloween night to find a cute little angel blurting out, "Trick or treat!"

Up until the 1940s, children's costumes were homemade. A worn bed sheet became a spooky ghost, a clever mom might repurpose an old dress into attire suitable for a wicked witch, while dad's slightly worn blazer and hat were just right for dressing up as a hobo.

Soon after the end of World War II and the boom in manufacturing that followed, Halloween costumes hit the market. How fun was it to go to Woolworth's to pick out a costume for Halloween? You could be a witch or skeleton, maybe a clown or a princess, a cowboy or a pirate. You could even be the devil!

When television came along, costumes depicted popular TV show characters of the time like Superman, Zorro, Davy Crockett and Hopalong Cassidy. Comic books inspired a long line of superhero costumes, along with more benevolent characters, like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

To this day, popular culture dictates what kids dress up as for trick-or-treating. No, you probably won't see a cute little angel at your door blurting out "Trick or treat!" on Halloween this year, but you can most likely expect to get caught in Spiderman's web or better yet, come face to face with Wonder Woman!

On Halloween, as the time draws nearer to the "witching hour," things get pretty hectic with kids chomping at the bit to go trick-or-treating. Unless you plan ahead, dinner won't happen. So, it's a good time to bring out the Crock-Pot.

This recipe couldn't be easier, and it'll be ready and waiting whether you eat dinner before or after trick-or-treating.

Made with garlicky sausage, pumpkin and black beans, tell the kids their dinner was made with pumpkin you found smashed on the road and the bugs crawling all over it. You'll probably hear a lot of "ewwws" and a lot of "oh, gross" and maybe a few giggles when you tell them the garlic keeps the vampires away!

GARLICKY BLACK BEAN AND PUMPKIN STEW

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 sweet red or yellow pepper, chopped

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3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 pound kielbasa or cooked Italian sausage, sliced 1-inch thick

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional garnishes: diced avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, crushed taco chips, hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Cook onion and pepper in olive oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients except garnishes. Cook, covered, on low 4 to 5 hours. Taste for seasonings. Garnish as desired.


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