Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves! – Humbert Wolfe
Dinner in a Pumpkin is fun and comforting on a chilly fall night. The filling is easily changed to suit your tastes, and kids can help you make it. It’s a perfect Halloween meal, since you can prepare it in advance and bake it while your little goblins are getting dressed up. What better way to eat dinner before Trick-or-Treating than out of a pumpkin?
4-5 lb. pumpkin
1-2 T olive oil
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp seasoned salt
8 oz elbow macaroni
2 C milk
8 oz pasteurized cheese product (such as Velveeta)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 C ham steak, chopped
10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained 2 C shredded cheddar-jack cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 375°F. Pre-bake the pumpkin: cut the top off and scoop out the seeds and strings. Brush the inside and top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; prick all over the inside with a fork. Set on a rimmed baking sheet that’s been lined with heavy-duty foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
While the pumpkin is baking, cook the macaroni per package directions, drain, and keep warm. Heat the milk and butter in a large pot over medium heat, then add the cheese cubes and whisk until smooth. Add 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese a handful at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth. Stir in the macaroni, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, ham and spinach. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and fill 2/3 with the macaroni and cheese mixture (you may have macaroni left over). Replace the top and bake approximately 30 minutes more, until the pasta is hot and bubbly and the pumpkin flesh is soft – check to ensure the pumpkin isn’t getting overcooked, or it could collapse.
During the last 15 minutes of baking, remove the top and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Serve in bowls, scooping out some of the pumpkin flesh with the pasta.
Consider the size of your oven when choosing your pumpkin (2-3 smaller pie pumpkins can be used instead)
The macaroni and cheese can be prepared in advance and refrigerated – fill the raw prepared pumpkin with the mixture and bake 1-hour.
For more recipes, tips and another filling option, visit www.itsokaytoeatthecupcake.com