halloween pumpkin jack o lanterns

It’s that time of year when everything is coming up orange and pumpkins take center stage on our stoops and in our windows. Pumpkin carving can be a fun family affair even though children should not be responsible for the actual carving process since it can be a dangerous proposition when tiny hands meet sharp knives and thick pumpkin flesh.

To make pumpkin carving more enjoyable for your kids, embark upon a pick-your- own adventure to let them choose a pumpkin for themselves. Save the seeds and pulp to transform them into fall favorites like toasted pumpkin seeds spices with smoked paprika and bright orange cookies bursting with the taste of autumn.

While you’re carving, share with your kids the history of pumpkin carving which began in ancient Ireland. It was the Irish who first brought this tradition to America from their green homeland steeped in mystical Celtic traditions. Since pumpkins did not exist in Ireland at the time, turnips were traditionally carved and placed on doorsteps with candles burning inside on All Hallow’s Eve as a way to ward off evil spirits and honor the dead.

Steps to carving a pumpkin

  1. Select your pumpkin. Keep in mind that taller pumpkins sometimes work better for freeform faces whereas round pumpkins are more suited for intricate stencil designs.
  2. Wipe the pumpkin clean with a damp cloth before carving it.
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, first cut off the top of the pumpkin to create a lid. Cut a small notch into one portion of the lid to make it easy to fit it and pumpkin back together again once the carving is complete.
  4. Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the inside of the pumpkin. Reserve the pulp and seeds separately for future recipes or simply discard in your compost bin.
  5. Draw your design on the pumpkin using a marker or ballpoint pen. This step is when you can involve children since it will make them feel more invested in the process.
  6. Carve the design using a sharp paring knife and discard the excess pieces or reserve them for recipes. Always cut away from your body in order to prevent injuries from slipping.
  7. Pop a tea light into the pumpkin, replace the lid and await your trick-or- treaters.

Thai Spiced Pumpkin Soup

thai spiced pumpkin soup

101 Recipes

This soup recipe is so simple and requires only a few ingredients, making it hard to believe how flavorful and satisfying it is. The fire of red curry paste is tempered by creamy coconut milk and earthy pumpkin. Roasted pumpkin seeds add crunchy texture and sea salt brings it all together. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread

Smitten Kitchen

There’s nothing more comforting on a crisp fall morning than a warm piece of pumpkin bread slathered in softened butter. Make a few extra loaves for freezing or to give as welcome gifts in this season of gratitude. Get the recipe.

Quick and Easy Vegan Pumpkin Burgers

vegan pumpkin burgers with beet relish

Further Food

Color and flavor come together in a burger that is packed with tasty elements that are as healthful as they are appetizing. Beets and pumpkins so double duty as both nutrition and flavor bombs. Make extra beet sauce to use later on sandwiches, salads or as a garnish for roasted chicken. Get the recipe.

Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

beef and pumpkin shepherd's pie

Cafe Delites

This is an unexpected twist on a classic shepherd’s pie recipe with fluffy whipped sweet potatoes replacing traditional potatoes for a cap of flavor and fun fall color. A slice is the perfect comfort food to warm up hungry bellies on a brisk autumn day and the good news is that leftover pie tastes just as good as it did fresh from the oven. Get the recipe.

South Indian Pumpkin Stir Fry

south indian pumpkin stir fry

Curry And Vanilla

Pumpkin takes center stage in this recipe straight out of a southern Indian culinary adventure. Red chiles give it a spicy kick while curry leaves add an exotic twist. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting

The Recipe Critic

Autumn is served up as dessert in a cookie recipe containing all of the requisite cool weather spices. Pumpkin gives them a bright orange flavor and cream cheese frosting makes them utterly irresistible. Get the recipe.

Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.

Related Video: How to Make Mini Pumpkin Spice Bites

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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