It doesn't take much magic to turn your holiday pumpkins into delicious post-Halloween treats. Consider some of the following ideas to put your jack-o-lanterns to good use. And good use again!
Don't believe the old wives' tale that if you swallow a pumpkin seed, you'll grow a pumpkin in your belly! Temp the fates, if you will, by scooping out the seeds from your jack-o-lantern and prepping them for a post-Halloween midday snack!
Use any seasonings that sound good to flavor your seeds. The seasonings in this pumkin seed recipe provide a bit of a zing!
With a batch of pumpkin puree in hand, you can use it for any recipe that normally calls for canned pumpkin. That means pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies… you get the idea.
Pumpkin puree is best made from smaller and sweeter pie -- or sugar -- pumpkins, which tend to be a little less watery than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. One (4 pound) sugar pumpkin yields about 1-1/2 cups of puree. You can, however, use a traditional jack-o-lantern style pumpkin to cook with (a medium-sized pumpkin works well for this recipe).
Keep in mind that if you're going to cook with your regular field pumpkin jack-o-lantern, it needs to be fresh and not the one that has been sitting on your stoop for a few weeks or even days! Wait to carve your pumpkin until the day of Halloween (or whatever day trick-or-treating falls on). Keep the carved pieces in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When trick-or-treating wraps up, grab your carved pumpkin, give it a good wash (it should already be cleaned of its flesh and seeds) and cut it into pieces. Follow the cooking directions below, although you'll need to bake it for about two hours.
If you want to make double duty use of your sugar pumpkins, keep them for indoor decorations without carving them. Gather them up in groups for a nice fall display and use them once the party is over!
One (4 pound) sugar pumpkin makes about 1-1/2 cups of pumpkin puree.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Once your Halloween festivities are over, grab your pumpkin and give it a good wash. Cut it in half (sounds gruesome!) and scrape out its flesh and seeds (creepy, right?). Wash and dry the seeds and turn them into tasty treats (see above).
After your pumpkin has been halved and scraped clean, cut the halves in two and place the pieces on a baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and golden. Note: If you're using a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, bake for about two hours.
Carefully peel the skin off your pumpkin (eek!). Add the fleshy pieces (yikes!) to a food processor (if you don't have one, use a potato masher) and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water, a little at a time, if your pumpkin is too dry. If it's too wet, try to strain it to remove some of the liquid. The pumpkin puree can be used immediately or stored in freezer bags for six to eight months.
These tips should inspire a fun and festive Halloween, all treats and no tricks!
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