Ways to Use Pumpkin

Ways to Use Pumpkin

The fall season offers cooler weather, spectacular color changes in the leaves, the holidays just around the corner and new decorating possibilities. Consider using pumpkins in a host of ways indoor and outdoors to get into the spirit of the season.

Buy Pumpkin

There are so many places to buy fresh pumpkins. Look around for the best pumpkins at the best prices. Try a local farmer's market that allows you to pick your own pumpkin. It's a fun way to spend time with the family, enjoy the cooler temperatures and get some exercise at the same time.

Ideas to Use Pumpkin

Make a totem pole pumpkin – choose four or five pumpkins in varying sizes. Save the smallest one for the top or head of the totem pole and the largest one for the base. Cut the top off the largest one and set the next sized pumpkin on top of the largest one. Cut the top off of that pumpkin and add the next one. Stack pumpkins as high as possible so that the whole totem will stand straight. Use a dowel rod through the top and back of each pumpkin all the way down to hold all parts of the totem pole steady. The dowel rod should slide fairly easily through or if not, drill a small hole at the top and bottom of each pumpkin. Decorate each pumpkin with paints to create a scarecrow or other spooky Halloween character and keep on the front porch as a decorative piece.

Use a pumpkin as Scarecrow Head – Find any number of pumpkin carving kits that include a wide variety of designs for your pumpkin. Choose one that will work well as a scarecrow face and either carve out the design or trace the stencil using push pins to create small holes. Add fiber optic lights to the inside of the head after cutting off the top gently and reapply the lid.

Paint a Pumpkin – Use acrylic paints in a wide variety of colors and create your own decorative pumpkin without using any pattern at all. Let the kids use their imagination to paint a spooky face or Halloween scene on their own pumpkin for their room or arrange several for the front porch. Painting a pumpkin instead of carving it is safer for kids and the pumpkin will last longer if not carved.

Paint a Pumpkin – Use a stencil pattern to create amazing designs with your pumpkin. Apply a store bought stencil to the pumpkin and pin in place with a push pin. Use a carving tool knife to cut out the design and remove the stencil. Outline the stenciled area using sharpies that come in a variety of colors and don't make the mess of paints. If you're really creative, create your own stencils for totally unique patterns that no one else will have!

Create a luminary pumpkin – cut off the top of the pumpkin and scrape entire insides, saving those for later use. Cut a small decoration, face or whatever you want on the front side of pumpkin, fill 1/4 with sand and add a small votive candle. Add to the front porch and light in the evenings as a night light.

Make your own pumpkin seeds – save the interior of the pumpkin when carving and strain the seeds from the pumpkin pulp. Rinse the seeds to remove all pumpkin, place on a paper towel and then transfer onto a baking sheet. Spread the seeds out evenly, spray the seeds with a light cooking oil spray, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. Turn pumpkin seeds over once approximately 1/2 way through the baking process. Remove from oven, cool and enjoy your own fresh pumpkin seeds.

Make a pumpkin vase – Cut the top around the stem of a pumpkin large enough so that your hand can fit inside. Remove all the insides, seeds and stringy parts. Scrape most of the sides of pumpkin and leave the bottom intact. Place upside down to dry. Insert fresh stems of flowers and branches of assorted leaves into the bottom center of pumpkin to hold them in place to create your indoor center piece that should last a few weeks.

Make a fresh pumpkin pie – To make a fresh pumpkin pie, use a small dark sugar pumpkin not the larger jack o lantern types.

Make a fresh Pumpkin Pie

Cut the pumpkin in 1/2 and remove the top stem, seeds and stringy sections. Place on a cookie sheet, rub with a small amount of vegetable oil and cover with foil. Bake the pumpkin at 350 degrees for at least one hour or until pumpkin is soft with a fork. Remove, cool slightly, remove the flesh area of pumpkin and mash in a mixer until smooth.

To the soft pumpkin mixture, use two cups of pumpkin mix, add two eggs, one cup brown sugar packed tightly, one 12 oz. can of evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp of salt, 2 1/2 tsp of pumpkin spice and one Tbs. flour. Pour into a 9" pie shell, bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

Make Pumpkin Squash Soup

Make Pumpkin Squash Soup

In a soup pot, bring 16 cups of water to boil with 2 tsp. each of salt and pepper.

Peel 1 medium sized butternut squash and one small sugar pumpkin cut each in half and remove stems and strings.

Cut squash and pumpkin into 1" chunks and add to boiling water.

Add 4 cups of 2% milk and two Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken.

Remove squash and pumpkin when almost soft and set aside to cool.

Add 2 tsp. all spice to water base.

Blend pumpkin and squash in blender to puree and then add to water base, simmer an additional 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt, pepper or all spice as desired. Serve hot or chilled garnish with fresh pumpkin seeds. Freeze extra soup for another day in airtight container after cooled.

Use your imagination and creativity for other ways to use pumpkin and enjoy this short, colorful and fun season of the year!

Photos: www.istockphoto.com