Don't buy a pumpkin for a jack-o'-lantern and just eat the cost – save money by eating the pumpkin. Here are some cheap and simple options beyond pumpkin pie.
Fall is here and pumpkins are adorning doorsteps all across America. This year consider using your pumpkin for more than just decorating. Here are some ideas for turning pumpkins into something delicious and festive.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Making your own roasted pumpkin seeds is great to do while carving a pumpkin. Once the top of the pumpkin is removed, scrape out the insides and separate the seeds. When all the seeds are removed, wash and let dry. To help speed the drying process, place seeds on a cookie sheet and put in a warm oven, about 120 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes until seeds are dry. In a bowl combine dry seeds with seasonings…
1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt (kosher is best), ¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice seasoning
(These quantities will vary depending on the amount of seeds being roasted. These measurements are for 1 cup of seeds.)
Spread the seasoned seeds out on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. It’s important to keep a close watch because the seeds burn easily. Cool before eating.
Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious as a snack, perfect for a party, and a good topping for salads. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week.
Homemade pumpkin butter is delicious on toast, scones, and pancakes – and can also be used in cocktail recipes (see below). To make your own, start with fresh pumpkin puree, then add spices and flavorings.
First, the pumpkin puree…
Cut a pumpkin in half and remove seeds and strings. Place the cut side face-down on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until fork-tender. After the pumpkin cools, scrape out the soft flesh, discarding the skin. Place the cooked pumpkin in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth. (If the mixture is too thick to blend, thin it out with a bit of apple cider or water.)
Now for the pumpkin butter…
2 cups pumpkin puree
½ cup sugar
¼ cup apple cider
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in a pot. Stir and cook for 20 minutes or until the consistency is like applesauce. Be careful as the mixture will pop and bubble. Let cool and enjoy.
Falling leaf fizz
After all this hard work turning your pumpkins into something delicious, reward yourself with a festive cocktail. I got this recipe from a friend. It uses pumpkin butter like the recipe above, which gives the drink a natural pumpkin taste…
1 part Grey Goose La Poire vodka (or some other pear-flavored vodka, if you can find it)
4 parts of sparkling wine
Dash of simple syrup
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin butter
Pinch of pumpkin pie spice
dried apple chip for garnish
Place vodka, pumpkin butter, spice, and syrup in the bottom of a champagne glass.
Stir well. Top with sparkling wine and garnish.
Pumpkin Bowl or Serving Dish
Using smaller pumpkins as serving bowls is a festive way to add a special touch to any party. If you’re serving a soup course – especially if it’s pumpkin soup – give this idea a try. Medium pumpkins can also be used as a serving dish for a dip at a party.
To prepare a pumpkin to use as serving dish…
Cut off the top and scrape out the seeds and strings. Using your hands or a brush, lightly coat the inside and outside with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
This will remove the raw flavor from the inside of the pumpkin and give the outside a nice color and shine for presentation.