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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin


Emma, Lucy and I headed to the market the other day to pick up some deli ham and cheese. Somehow, we walked out with ten pie pumpkins, eight butternut squash, fifteen delicata squash, twelve acorn squash, and ten sweet dumpling squash. We may have gone a little overboard, but Emma became emotionally attached to so many of the "baby pumpkins" that we could not help but adopt them all. They are currently adorning our fireplace and will eventually be selected one by one to be roasted in preparation for various baked goods, stews, soups, and pastas. The only pumpkin that shan't be consumed this fall is the plumpest one of them all...


Have you ever cooked dinner inside a pumpkin? It's a novel concept that is always a big hit with the kids. If you were to serve the same rice-and-sausage concoction from a casserole dish, they would whine and complain as if they were being forced to consume asphalt but serve it from the inside of a pumpkin and suddenly the dish is transformed to one of the greatest things they have ever eaten in their young lives. Little tricks like this are a lifesaver when it comes to feeding small, easily impressionable palates.



I have to admit that this dinner is a lot of fun to both make and serve. It's nice to do something different with a whole pumpkins besides carve a face into the side that is about as artistic as my two-year-old's self portraits. This is a great Halloween night dinner idea. I personally like to use pie pumpkins for this because the flavor is better than the larger pumpkins, but either work. If using smaller pie pumpkins, you might need to fill 2-3 of them. A single, 5-6 pound pumpkin should be large enough to stuff completely full with the filling depending on how many...ahem...guts you have to scoop out of it.

This is a simple, homey meal made simple by the fact that the cooking vessel is the pumpkin. Be sure to scoop up the pumpkin flesh when serving the rice - it really does add something special to the dish!



Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin
adapted slightly from Favorite Family Recipes

Note: The pictures above were taken before baking. The pumpkin takes on a darker appearance after baking and the insides are soft and scoopable and are, in my opinion, the best part of the whole dish!

1 medium pumpkin
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 cups cooked rice, white or brown

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Thoroughly wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet. Save the top.

In a large skillet, sauté the beef and sausage until no longer pink, breaking the meat into very small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain the meat on paper towels. Return the hot skillet to the onion and add a tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the onion and mushrooms and cook until the onion is translucent. Add to a large bowl with the meat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the water chestnuts.

In a small bowl, mix the soup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Add to the beef/sausage mixture along with the cooked rice. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pumpkin and replace the pumpkin top.

Bake for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven, or on the rack where the pumpkin can be most centered in the oven.

After 1 hour, remove the top and check the sides of the pumpkin for doneness. The outside of the pumpkin will turn a dark orange, and the inside of the pumpkin should be tender and easily scoop off the sides with a spoon. If the inside of the pumpkin is still not fully cooked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin. Using hot pads, place the pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the lid, and stir. Be sure to scoop off chunks of cooked pumpkin into the casserole as it is served.

Linking this post up for #TuesdayTalk.

7 comments:

  1. Ahhh! I have got to try this! The hubby loves pumpkin. He bought pumpkin seeds at the store the other day and keeps asking questions about what pumpkins are best to eat...I think I can take the hint!

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    1. Ben is so cute! Be sure to use a pie pumpkin!

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  2. We don't eat pumpkin anything (I know, we're weird) but this is too cute!

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    1. What!?!?!? You don't eat pumpkin anything!?!

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    2. Just giving you a hard time. Paul doesn't really like pumpkin things when it comes to sweets. He likes pumpkin in more savory preparations. And he was skeptical at first.

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  3. This is so adorable for the season. A beautiful display for the table too. I am featuring this on next week's Tuesday Talk link up on Grammie Time. Just in time for Halloween. Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea at our party. See you next week.

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    1. Thanks for featuring me! The kids love this dinner - everything tastes better when served straight out of a pumpkin!

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