Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Dinner in a Pumpkin

When you're married to someone in the military, you learn lots of stuff. You learn nothing is ever set in stone until it's already happened. You learn to hurry up and then wait. You learn a whole lotta TLA's and FLA's (that's three letter acronyms and four/five letter acronyms). You learn ranks and other military things. But one of the most important things you learn is that friends can be just like family.

It's an important lesson when you're over 2000 miles from home and your close family members. So you take your friendly family (family friends?) and make the best of being far from home. You make new traditions. Like going to the pumpkin patch when it's 80º outside. Here's a few pictures from the pumpkin patch before you get your next pumpkin recipe!

Clockwise from top left: Some of the best people I know out here and the group that came with us to the pumpkin patch (look closely-the lady tried to crop Stout out from the bottom). Stout feeding goats at the pumpkin farm. The guys get a little crazy when thy are all together-plus DADT was repealed so there's nothing holding them back (kidding). Neil and his bestie, Stout.

Left: Our roomie, Michael, and his girlfriend, Whitney. They are kinda the cutest couple I know. Right: Me, the hubs, and his awkward picture takingness :)

Left: Neil, Jar, and Stout showing off their human totem poll skills and their uber-closeness. Right: Karisa (who gifted me with the pumpkin butter and joined us for a pumpkin dinner) and her husband, Ivan.

The pumpkin patch was almost as awesome as the people we went with. It was Neil and I's second time going to Bates Nut Farm and we were glad to have everyone along with us. While we were there, Karisa suggested doing dinner in a pumpkin so we made a date. On Friday, she and her hubby came over and we wowed the guys with our pumpkin presentation skills.

That's right, dinner was served inside the pumpkin! The pumpkin became the bowl/cooking receptacle and what made it even better was that you could scrape some of the pumpkin off the side and enjoy it with your dinner.

I'm not a mushroom person but this was delicious. You could do all types off things inside these pumpkin bowls (pumpkin chile, anyone?) but I definitely suggest following the recipe below.

Dinner in a Pumpkin

4 small pumpkins or 1 medium pumpkin (use 4 if you want everyone to have their own individual pumpkin bowl)
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1-1/2 cups cooked rice
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Preheat oven to 350º. Wash the outer surface of the pumpkins thoroughly. Cut a circle in the top, just like if you were going to carve the pumpkin. Remember to slant the knife so that the lid doesn't fall straight through. Clean out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. Rinse well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add ground beef and cook until brown, drain. Add onion and celery and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Once, the vegetables are done, add the brown sugar, soy sauce, cream of chicken soup, mushrooms, cooked rice, and water chestnuts. Mix well.

Place the cleaned pumpkins on a cookie sheet. Scoop the mixture into the pumpkin and place the pumpkin top back on. Put the pumpkins into the oven and cook for 1-2 hours. Check after an hour. The cooking time will vary according to size of the pumpkin. Our little ones took just over an hour. You will know it is done when the pumpkin is tender and the mixture is bubbling all the way through.

Serve warm. Enjoy!

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