I really think that this should have been my birthday in some alternate universe.
Pumpkins are fantastic gourds. They are the original halloween decoration, the perfect soup ingredient, fun to carve, perfect for pies and the seeds are addictive. There are so many things you can do with pumpkins this time of year, not just set it on your steps and let it get mushy!
Carving your pumpkin can be a serious mess. A fun way to get the kids involved, with no knives and pumpkin guts is to paint the pumpkins. These pumpkins from Parent Map are the perfect example of how creative your children can be with their own pumpkins.
I’m definitely not the best pumpkin carver in the world. I think the best I’ve ever done was cut a big hole in one, fill it with ice and stick a bottle of wine in the pumpkin. Voila, table decoration a la adult halloween party. Pumpkin carving is a lot of fun with the kids, though it can be quite daunting trying to get one to actually look like something resembling a face. The easiest trick I found was to do the following:
- Cut the top of the pumpkin off and clean out the insides (keep the seeds for later)
- Find a pumpkin face stencil and trace it on to your pumpkin or draw a face that you would like on your pumpkin
- Cut out along the lines of the stencil
- Clean up the insides and make sure there aren’t any bits hanging down
- Place a votive or tea light candle inside – or in our case we use a battery operated candle so it is safe and lasts a good few weeks
This way your kids can choose whatever design they want to see lit up on your pumpkin and having something to trace makes it a lot easier. Just make sure your knife is very sharp and not serrated. Serrated knives seem to make carving a bit more difficult when you’re trying to make a design or face.
If you don’t have access to the real deal you can always make pumpkin crafts with the kids and decorate the house with them for Autumn. Fun crafts for half term will keep them busy and your house will suddenly be very festive.
Of course I’m going to include all sorts of ways you can use pumpkins for things other than decoration. Pumpkins are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals and it helps that they taste fantastic either sweet or savoury.
I love recipes that both contain pumpkin and I can make them in my slow cooker. Coming home to dinner already prepared is a mothers vision of happiness. Now if only the dishes would do themselves!
This recipe for Pumpkin Chilli is simple and easy to make. If you are making it as a family meal you may want to omit the jalapenos as children aren’t as keen to eat them as some adults. My Vega has touted this recipe as a vegan one but there is nothing stopping you from adding minced turkey (which is what we did) to bulk it out a bit. We also added cheese to the top and serve it over my family recipe cornbread. It’s one of the recipes I look forward to making every Autumn because when you smell it in the house you know Christmas is well on its way.
Pumpkin goes savoury again in this recipe from HGTV. Pumpkins are definitely famous for being made into exceptionally good pies and lattes, but there is so much more that a pumpkin can do. Take this amazing spicy pumpkin pasta for starters. This dish is incredibly simple to make yet tastes so much more complex. There are fresh flavours like mint and hazelnuts combined with pumpkin and parmesan. Think it wouldn’t work? It does, fantastically.
My variation on this recipe is to forgo putting it all together into one dish. Instead, I puree all ingredients (apart from the pasta) together. I then stuff either tortellini or ravioli with the puree. I top it with a pumpkin Alfredo sauce. The sauce is incredibly easy to make:
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 235ml Cream
- 3 garlic cloves crushed / minced
- 100g parmesan cheese
- 1/2tsp nutmeg
- 1tbsp olive oil
Combine the olive oil and garlic in a pan and saute’ over low/medium heat, but don’t let it go brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat through until the cheese is melted. Voila, pumpkin Alfredo sauce. If you want it a bit runnier, add stock to the sauce.
Until National Pumpkin Day came along and I started doing research for pumpkin recipes I had never heard of a pumpkin chocolate chip. Oh have mercy on my waist line I can’t wait to try these. Don’t like pumpkin or chocolate then these aren’t for you, but I’m ok with that because that means more for me! This recipe from My Paper Crush is my new favourite recipe and the next one on my must try list.
In the UK we don’t have vegetable shortening per say. It is sold in stores as vegetable fat (solid) but you can substitute butter if you can’t get hold of this ingredient. The texture of the cookie will be a little bit different without the shortening but will still taste lovely.
It’s National Pumpkin Day, so get celebrating! Decorate your home, fill it with the smells of yummy pumpkin meals. Whatever you do, make it a day to remember with your family.