Dinner in a Pumpkin

February 12th, 2013 posted by Susie Tilton

The pumpkin shortage appears to be over. Maybe you weren’t even aware, but last fall as Thanksgiving approached, pumpkin became scarce, and following the holiday season it was impossible to find. I would get emails from friends telling me they found a can here or there. And what a find, because although we associate pumpkin with the fall, it is delicious year round. It is also a good source of Vitamins A, B, C and E and packs a little fiber to boot. Don’t forget the beta-carotene which is found only in the colorful vegetables. So beyond pumpkin pie, what kind of pumpkin goodness will your family love? The most popular pumpkin in our house is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I seem to always veer toward the sweet side with pumpkin. I decided it was time to bring this fall favorite to the dinner table. And what fun to eat dinner out of a pumpkin. You are looking for little sweet pumpkins designed for pies not decoration. Feel free to substitute the meat and cheeses in the recipe to what your family loves. Perhaps ground beef or turkey, bratwurst, hot dogs or no meat at all. And cheese options are endless. You can even make this in one big pumpkin and serve the family out of it.

Macaroni and Cheese In a Pumpkin

1 large pie pumpkin or 4 smaller pie pumpkins Cut the top off the pumpkins (a good size to get inside it) and scoop out the centers as you would for carving. You will want to scrape into the sides a bit to bring a little pumpkin flavor into the mac and cheese. Remove all the raw pumpkin you scraped, and the stringy insides. 4 links mild Italian sausage (or 1 pound other meat) 4 Tablespoons Butter 1 T flour 1 cup half and half 1/2 cup milk 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional) 1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella 2 cups uncooked pasta 1/2 cup panko crumbs In a small fry pan saute the Italian sausage. Cook thoroughly and slice when links have cooled slightly. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved and slowly add the milk and cream, stirring as you add. Cook for about 5 minutes as the mixture begins to boil and thicken slightly. Stir regularly and you will see the mixture coat your spoon. Remove from heat and add Worcestershire and hot sauce if using. Slowly mix in the cheeses and stir well. Set aside the cheese mixture while the pasta boils. The pasta is best cooked al dente if you plan on baking in the pumpkin. Drain the pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Add the cooked meat. Stir well and put into either a large pumpkin or smaller individual pumpkins, sprinkle with panko. If opting not to use a pumpkin, the pasta can be served right now. It can also be placed in a shallow dish and topped with panko crumbs and baked. Place the pumpkins on a sturdy baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes for small pumpkins and 30 for a large pumpkin. Uncover and bake for about 5-10 minutes more to crisp the panko. Remove from oven and plate carefully. Put the lid on the plate for presentation! Store any leftovers in a separate container and not in the pumpkin. Other great ideas to cook in a pumpkin are a thick version of chili, cheese dip, any baked pasta and even bread pudding for dessert. There are many ideas, it is just like a casserole dish. The pumpkin flavor imparted is quite minimal, and won’t clash with your favorite foods. But it will make your favorite foods more fun!

Susie Tilton (17 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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