Friday, October 28, 2011

You Can't Win 'em All

Ever since my husband was only my boyfriend, he has told me about how he loves to have stew in pumpkins around Halloween. He has told me that he once upon a time had a very easy and super yummy beef stew recipe for dinner-in-a-pumpkin. However, he doesn't know where this recipe is.

So, I've been on the hunt ever since. And so far, the hunt has eluded me.

I was so excited to try this had so many flavorful ingredients. I thought "There's no way this one can fail!" Well, I think it had TOO many ingredients. There was just way too much going on and it took FOREVER to make. Not worth the work. I thought the soup was okay, but I didn't love it...I don't think I even really liked it. It just had too much going on. And as I said before, with how much work it was, I would never make it again.

I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to it. I don't know, maybe it was because I couldn't find regular turkey sausage--only Italian seasoned. Maybe that was the last straw...the final flavor element that sent the soup over the edge for me. Even so, I'm not going to give this soup another go. I'll have to try some of the leftovers for lunch and see if I feel differently. Maybe my taste buds were affected by how much time and work went into it...but I don't think so. I'll let you know if my opinion changes after lunch tomorrow!

The plus? The recipe did include fantastic instructions for how to roast sugar pumpkins. I'm going to include that portion of the recipe.

Here's what I think. I have a few more recipes to try for dinner-in-a-pumpkin. I'll try some more next Halloween. But if they fail me, I'm going to simply put my favorite beef stew inside a pumpkin. The best beef stew (Pepper-Spiked Beef Stew) I've ever made is already posted on our blog here. In the notes, the recipe mentions that you can substitute sweet potatoes for the regular potatoes. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes might pair well with the pumpkin. Hmmm. I'll have to try it sometime and let you know what I think.

I really think that's the key...find your favorite recipe for stew and put it inside a pumpkin! And voila! Happy Halloween!

Anyway, here are the instructions for roasting sugar pumpkins:

Roasted Sugar Pumpkins (for the purpose of a Halloween Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin)


Sugar pumpkins (1 per person--see notes)
Extra-virgin olive oil or cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a keyhole saw, cut out tops of pumpkins, and reserve. Remove seeds. Rub inside of each pumpkin with the oil (or spray with cooking spray), and season with salt and pepper. Place pumpkins and tops right side up on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 25 minutes. Remove tops; let cool completely on a wire rack, and reserve for garnish. Turn pumpkins upside down, and bake until flesh is tender but firm, about 25 minutes more. Let cool completely on rack.

When you are ready to put the soup in your pumpkins, preheat oven to 350 degrees (unless you never turned your oven off, of course! In which case, your oven will already be ready to go at 350 degrees). Divide the stew among pumpkin shells. Place on baking sheets, and bake until pumpkins are soft, about 15 minutes. Garnish with tops.

Source: Martha Stewart website.

Notes: The original recipe made 12 servings and called for 1/2 cup of olive oil for 12 pumpkins. I only made five pumpkins, but after taking forever to scoop out the seeds, I decided that I would take the easy way out and simply spray the insides with cooking spray.

As for providing one pumpkin per person, it might be a little much. Sure, they are adorable, but no one can eat an entire pumpkin by themselves! Especially after eating a bowl of soup! My suggestion? I would cut off the stem and cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and follow the recipe as written. That way, everyone has half a pumpkin and it will still hold their soup, but it would be a more reasonable amount to eat per person.

The pumpkins themselves were fantastic. The perfect amount of doneness and very tasty.

Above: White Bean and Sausage Stew served in Pumpkins. It looks like it would be so good, doesn't it? If you still want to give it a go, here's the full recipe.


  1. You know after you emailed me this recipe I read it and immediately decided against it. There were so many ingredients, and expensive ones at that. It must have been a pretty pricey dish.

  2. It was a pricey soup. But I had wanted to try it for the past three or four I decided to finally do it. Too bad it wasn't worth it! Or, maybe it's a good thing because now I won't be craving it on a yearly basis...and having to budget it in every year as a result!

  3. I can't imagine peeling all of those red pearl onions. It does look pretty. But it's best it didn't work if it's that pricey.

  4. I know! I was going to buy frozen white pearl onions so I could avoid peeling them. My store sometimes has them and sometimes doesn't. This time, they didn't have them and I didn't have time to check another store. It was such a PAIN to peel all of those onions. It took such a long time. Imagine peeling 30 big onions...then make them smaller...then add a layer that sticks to the onions more like cloves of garlic and that's what it's like to peel pearl onions. Not worth it.

  5. I have a pumpkin recipe that I grew up eating every year maybe you could try that. It's more like a pumpkin casserole.

  6. Shandie, thanks for your recipe. I'll have to try that one next year! It looks yummy. Though I don't think it is the same one Jeremiah was talking about.

    Laurie, did you try a different dinner-in-a-pumpkin recipe? If so, how did it turn out? Is it blog-worthy?