It’s the time of year when little ghosts and goblins start plotting their strategies for getting the most candy per inch of pavement pounded on Halloween night.

Meanwhile, parents are coming up with their own game plans: What can they do for the neighborhood Halloween party that’s more clever than going crazy with the pumpkin cookie cutter or slapping a spider on a cupcake? And how can they keep their trick-or-treaters from inhaling too much sugar?

Parents, meet Maggie da Silva, mom of a 7-year-old and 4-year-old twins.

Da Silva, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., but spends a lot of time in Maine camping and visiting friends in Portland, writes a blog called Real Family Time ( A while ago, she published a camping cookbook online that caught my eye.

Now she’s back with an ebook, “Real Family Halloween Fun,” that includes some creative ideas for treats children can make for their Halloween parties that will also help keep their sweet tooths at bay.

Da Silva’s “meatloaf mummy,” wrapped in strips of biscuit dough, will make you laugh out loud. His bloodshot eyes (ketchup, of course) make him look like the evil twin of the gingerbread man.

“There’s something about little men made out of chopped meat that seems totally wrong,” da Silva said, laughing. “There’s something really weird about it. But the kids really eat them up, so that’s kind of my objective.”

And the witch’s fingers? “They’re really beckoning with their crazy almond fingernails,” she said.

Da Silva is a huge fan of Halloween. While there are other versions of meatloaf mummies and witch’s fingers to be found online — mummies wrapped in lasagna noodles and sporting olive eyeballs, for instance, and witch’s fingers that are cookies rather than cheesy treats — da Silva’s recipes are based on things she remembers from her own childhood trick-or-treating days.

The meatloaf she makes for the meatloaf mummies is really basic, with just a smidgen of soy sauce and ketchup for flavoring. But kids like basic — and moms do too.

“If I’m making a recipe for my kids and it calls for saffron or rosewater or something that I don’t have, I just give up,” da Silva said.

Da Silva says each meatloaf man is about a quarter pound or less, depending on how large you make them. The mummy’s wrappings can just cover the top of the meatloaf man since he doesn’t stand up (just tell your kids his feet were chewed off by a werewolf) and he’s served right from the pan to the plate.

When da Silva prepares them, however, she goes all out and wraps the dough all the way around the meatloaf man to make him a three-dimensional figure.

Da Silva says her 4-year-olds can easily flatten out the strips of biscuit dough and help wrap the mummy in two-dimensional fashion. If you have an artistic child in the 7- or 8-year-old range, she said, they could probably wrap the entire mummy without making it look like the meatloaf man has had a nasty encounter with the swamp thing.

Da Silva likes to serve these mummies before trick or treating. The mini meatloaves are in the spirit of Halloween, so it’s easier to get her children to eat something before they head out into the night.

“The kids really like to rip them limb from limb and dip them in ketchup,” da Silva said. (The ketchup, in case you haven’t figured this out yet, is a stand-in for blood.)

“For our kids, if they eat a lot of candy and they don’t eat food, about 9 o’clock at night we have the biggest sugar low ever in history in our house,” she said. “So I really think it is a good idea to give kids something hardy to eat before they go. They’re not so hungry, they don’t eat so much candy, and they don’t go quite as crazy.”

When her children arrive home, da Silva has a dance party waiting for them, complete with a fortune teller.

“You have to have fortune telling,” she said. “It’s a key activity at Halloween. The key is (asking) some mom who the kids don’t know that well to be the fortune teller — someone who will really invest in her role.”

The witch’s fingers are something that might typically appear at this party.

The knobby fingers with a slivered almond nail are actually cheesesticks. Da Silva says don’t be shy about squeezing the fingers into shape to get that knobby look.

“Every time I make them, I’m afraid I’m doing it too much, and it’s never enough,” she said. “You can really play with them. You also don’t want to overcook them. You don’t want the features to get too brown.”

Adults like these treats as well — so much so that the fingers often disappear as fast as they come out of the oven.

Maybe they should be called ghost fingers.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at: [email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad