Here’s a themed meal that you don’t have to wait until Halloween to make. Fresh pumpkins are prime for the picking right now. And even if you don’t live near a u-pick farm, local discount stores (Wal-Mart, Target) and supermarkets from coast-to-coast are offering great deals on the vibrant and versatile orange fruit.
If you are looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit consider adding the following pumpkin recipes to your fall menu. The first recipe for The Ultimate Pumpkin Casserole will be the talk of the table, especially since the dish is cooked and served inside an actual pumpkin. The second recipe is ideal for kids to make. It features pumpkins paired with cookies and fruit in a dish that’s sure to please diners of all ages.
THE ULTIMATE PUMPKIN CASSEROLE
1 medium size pumpkin, or two small pumpkins, cleaned out
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green pepper
1 small onion diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 package wild rice, prepared according to directions
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter melted
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese, for garnish
Crushed croutons, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large soup pot brown beef with celery, onion and green pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add sliced mushrooms and soy sauce and cook a few more minutes. Add cream of mushroom soup, milk, rice and water chestnuts and cook.
Melt butter and swirl it around in pumpkin. Season pumpkin with salt and pepper.
Spoon beef mixture into pumpkin. Place top on pumpkin.
Place pumpkin on cookie sheet and into oven.
Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin.
Remove pumpkin from oven. Lift top off pumpkin and sprinkle top of casserole with shredded cheese and croutons.
SWEET PUMPKIN DIP
8 oz. cream cheese
2 jars (7 oz.) marshmallow fluff or cream
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated orange peel or orange juice
Combine all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until smooth.
Serve dip with Gingersnap cookies, graham crackers, or sliced apples.