Sunday, October 31, 2010

dinner in a pumpkin

Every fall, our little family has dinner in a pumpkin. It's a tradition and became one without real intent, which is pretty cool- as our family is young, and traditions are mostly ideas we have. This meal is so, so yummy (if I do say so myself) and very cozy. Something about it feels like comfort food to me. Maybe it's just the fact that my whole family is gathered around a table, eating warm and wonderful food- while outside, the world is wet and cold. Or maybe it's just some awesome grub! :) Either way, we love it. A lot.

I got the idea and original recipe from my friend, Brittney. This version is pretty much hers, with a few twists. Hers is really great, but I quite liked my version, too. It turned out great. I think we'll be having dinner in a pumpkin AGAIN this year! {The audacity, I know!}

RECIPE: Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 medium pumpkin*
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. celery, sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 c. cooked rice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or to taste)
salt/pepper, to taste

{*Note: Choose a smaller medium... Also, the night/day before making this, bring your pumpkin in from outside. You don't want to start with a freezing cold pumpkin. It only makes the cooking time longer. Trust me.}

Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash the pumpkin. Carve a lid from the top; remove it, and scoop out the seeds and "goop." Replace the lid, place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet (foil lined = easier cleanup), and pop it in the oven. Let it warm up and start to cook a bit while you get everything else ready. {You'll appreciate the head start; cooking a whole pumpkin takes a while...}

Prepare the veggies if you haven't already. Then in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is browned. (I like to add much of my seasoning here, too...) Add the garlic, celery and bell pepper. Cook until veggies are al dente {Can you use that term with veggies??}. Add the rice, and add (or add more of) the soy sauce, and salt/pepper. Taste as you go, and adjust seasonings accordingly. {Note: I like to season a little on the heavy side, since the pumpkin will be unseasoned and sharing.} Mix well and cook until warmed through.

Once the meat/veggies/rice mix is done, bring your pumpkin out of the oven for a minute. Fill the pumpkin with the innards mix. Replace the pumpkin's lid and return it to the oven. Bake at 350F for 1 hour, or until the pumpkin squash is tender {poke with a fork}. Also, the outside will start to "sag" a bit.

To serve, scoop out some pumpkin flesh along with the meat/veggies/rice mix and eat it all together, casserole style. Add a bit more soy sauce if desired. Enjoy!