Halloween has come and gone once again. Mon dieu, what a season!

Not content to simply carve a pumpkin and eat some candy corn, we decided to make the holiday extra crazy this year by co-hosting a neighborhood party in the park. The goal of the get-together was simple: provide some seasonal fun for the younger kids who still find much of the zombie-, ghoul- and serial killer-filled holiday way too scary. So my neighbor Pilar and I invited a bunch of local families and friends, came up with a menu (me), created some games (her) and set up shop at 4pm on Saturday under the trees in Cleland Park.

As it turns out, our fete was happening simultaneously with (or directly after/before) Mt. Washington Elementary School’s Halloween carnival; about 400 harvest-, pumpkin- and apple-themed events in municipalities throughout the Southland; and, as my friend Catherine reminded me at lunch recently, Nevada Day. Needless to say, many of our guests arrived slightly glazed, having already tucked two events under their belts.

“THANK you for having real food,” my friend Tiffany said as she spooned up the vegetarian chili (my favorite version from Rosso and Lukins’ New Basics Cookbook) I’d served her. “We’ve been eating junk and spending money all day.”

Which pretty much sums up Halloween in 2013. When did the holiday get so complicated? Growing up, we made a costume, put it on once for a school party, and then again for trick or treating in the immediate ZIP code. End of story.

My proudest accomplishment for our party in the park were the individual apple pies I baked the night before. I riffed on the Mini Apple Pie Recipe from CitronLimette, an appealing culinary partnership between a Quebecoise chef and a Floridian empty nester.

To have enough for at least 20 people, I skinnied their minis down even further by using a tiny Turkish tea glass to cut out rounds of the very simple, tasty dough and a mini muffin tin to bake them in. Without a top crust, the sugar-cinnamon-apple filling dried out a little, but the results were still quite yummy and a less guilt-filled way to eat pie.