The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

October 24, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Pumpkins provide jackpot of ideas, treats

JOPLIN, Mo. — With Halloween just a week away, I thought it would be fun to write about the many uses of pumpkins. Buying a can of pumpkin is so easy, I’ve never had the desire to cook one in a recipe. But the more I read kitchendaily.    com, the less intimidating it sounds, and I’m now more likely to give it a try.

While larger pumpkins are perfect for carving, they aren’t great for cooking. Look for smaller, firm pumpkins with no soft spots and the stem attached. Try tiny white Lumina pumpkins for a satiny-tasting, sweet orange flesh.

I always thought the best thing about the sitcom “Roseanne” was the Halloween episodes. The show’s creators came up with some very creative costumes, and at the end of each episode they would showcase ornately carved pumpkins. I could never wait to see them.

My daughter, Sarah, grandson, Atlas, and I spent Sunday afternoon carving pumpkins. Ehow.com has come up with neat and easy ideas that make it unnecessary to cut into a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern. Not only can you avoid the carving mess, your uncut pumpkin will last about a month if kept in a cool place.

Here’s what you do: Get a glue gun or a bottle of glue and bling up your pumpkin with rhinestones, foam cut-outs, glitter or other crafty items. Paint a face on your pumpkin, or use toothpicks to attach cut veggies for a colorful look. Stick on a plastic nose, ears, mouth, eyes and glasses to create a perfect guest-greeter for your porch. Decorate it with colorful pushpins, or simply attach a mask and a hat to give your pumpkin its own personality. Let the little ones use washable markers. They make for easy cleanup and, if you decide to change the design, you can simply wipe the marker off and start again. For a reverse effect, place stencils on the pumpkin, spray it black then remove the stencils. This works great with both white and orange pumpkins. You could even make a camouflage hunter or zebra pumpkin with one of the zillion duct tape designs that are now available.

On the same website, I found a couple of food ideas worth sharing. The seed snacks are super easy, and the puree idea gives you pumpkin at the ready from your freezer. A last-minute addition is the pumpkin cookie recipe from Julie Smith. She brought one of these cookies to work for me to sample, and it was gone in two bites. You won’t believe how tasty these cookies are considering they’re made with only two ingredients. You could make the two-ingredient pumpkin cookies into three-ingredient pumpkin cookies by adding chopped nuts. Top them with cream cheese frosting and you have a winning snack.

For dinner, from the “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook,” is the one-dish chicken supper. Leave it on low all day and dinner will be awaiting your evening arrival. From “Crazy About Chocolate” we get the Heath bars recipe. Once you try them, you will want to fix them again and again, and it’s always fun to tell people they’re made with crackers. Have a wonderful week and happy eating.

 

Seed snacks

1 cup cleaned seeds

1 teaspoon canola oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients; spread on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

Pumpkin puree for pie

Place halved, seeded pumpkin, cutside-down in steamer basket. Cover and cook over boiling water until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, scoop flesh into food processor; puree. Freeze measured portions for desserts and soups.

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