If you’re looking for a great dinner guest this Halloween, I’ve got you covered. He’s quiet, a great listener, an excellent conversation piece, and to top it off, quite tasty! If you haven’t figured it out yet from the pictures, I’m talking about eating the pumpkin…for dinner. Crazy you say? Oh just try it, your kids will think it’s the coolest.
My mom came across this dinner in a pumpkin recipe when I was in middle school, and I have loved it ever since. My favorite memory of having dinner in a pumpkin was about six years ago. That particular Halloween was memorable for many reasons. I had just started dating my husband, had broken my knee two weeks earlier and my brother was getting married the next day. My whole family was in Logan, Utah for the wedding (where I happened to be attending USU). This of course meant it was freezing cold and SNOWING, as is typical Halloween weather in Northern Utah. On her way to my apartment my mom got a flat tire. My cute hubby (not even quite boyfriend at the time) went out in the snow to fix it for her. That got him LOTS of points, and I thought it was pretty nice too. She made us dinner in a pumpkin. It tasted so good! It was the perfect warm meal for such a cold night. Why is it that things always taste better when someone else makes them?
Enough with the walk down memory lane, let me tell you how it’s done.1 small-medium pumpkin (about the size of a volleyball) 1½ lbs ground beef 1 small onion, chopped 2 Tbsp oil 2 Tbsp soy sauce 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 can sliced mushrooms 1 small can cream of chicken soup 1-1/2 cup cooked rice ( I used 2) 1 can sliced water chestnuts (drained) *Next time I make this I might try adding a little chopped green pepper, and/or celery, or substituting sausage for some of the ground beef. INSTRUCTIONS:
- Wash the outer surface of the pumpkin thoroughly. Cut a circle off the top just like you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern. Remember to put your knife on slant when cutting the top. If you cut it straight up and down the lid will fall into the pumpkin while it is cooking. Clean out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. (I like to save the seeds and roast them later for a healthy snack.) Clean out the pumpkin and rinse it well. Set it aside.
- Heat two tablespoons oil in sauce pan. Add ground beef and chopped onion. If you want to try adding a little green pepper or celery, put that in at this time as well. Once the meat is browned add the brown sugar, soy sauce, cream of chicken soup, mushrooms, cooked rice and water chestnuts. Mix well.
- Place the cleaned pumpkin in a 9×13 baking dish or on a cookie sheet. Scoop mixture into the pumpkin and put the pumpkin’s top back on. At this point you can draw a jack-o-lantern face on your pumpkin if you would like. Place the stuffed pumpkin in a 350 degree oven and cook for 1-2 hours. Check after one hour. The cooking time will vary due to the size of your pumpkin. You will know it is done when the pumpkin is very tender and your casserole is bubbling all the way through.
You can serve this however you want. We like to put chow mein crunchy noodles on top and a little more soy sauce. The pumpkin is edible too, so scrap a little of the edge when you are dishing it up. Fall Waffle Iron Cookies would make a great dessert.
Here are a few more of my families favorite fall dinners: