I love Halloween so much. Probably because I have the best memories of trudging around in my snowy neighborhood as a kid with all of my best friends, collecting pillowcases full of candy. We’d scope out the best houses–the ones that gave out “king-size” candy bars or served hot chocolate. Now that I have kids of my own I can’t WAIT to help them get dressed up for trick-or-treating and I love how excited my little toddler is about it. And the best part: I get to “help” him eat all of his candy. He’s still young enough that he’s totally fine with it :-).
My husband and I started the tradition of making dinner in a pumpkin when we first got married. We thought it would be really fun to do with the kids every year in October, or even on Halloween night. It really is delicious comfort food–the perfect meal for filling excited little kid bellies with something hearty before they race off to collect a ton of candy.
I love using wild rice in this dish, but any type of rice or quinoa would work. Mix it with some sautéed veggies and a creamy homemade sauce and stuff it all right inside your cleaned-out pumpkin. Bake everything for about an hour, and enjoy some delicious cooked pumpkin as you scoop your delicious rice casserole out. Really easy to make, fun for the family, and delicious!
- 1 medium pumpkin or 2 smaller pumpkin pie pumpkins
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 cups cooked wild rice, brown rice or quinoa
- For the Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/8 tsp dried parsley
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- Cut the top off of the pumpkin--cutting an opening about 5-7 inches wide. Clean out the seeds and insides of the pumpkin until the inner walls of the pumpkin are smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Brown it in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove grease. Add onion, garlic, carrots, bell pepper and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add cooked rice and toss to combine.
- For the sauce, add the beef broth to the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, parsley, paprika and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce over the rice/beef mixture and toss to combine. Season with crushed red pepper, to taste.
- Lightly salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin. Spoon mixture into the pumpkin and place the lid/stem back on top. Place the pumpkin on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and place it on the lowest rack of your oven (or whatever rack will allow the pumpkin to fit in the center of the oven). Bake for 45 min -65 minutes, depending on the size.
- When serving, don't forget to scoop the delicious cooked pumpkin from the sides of the pumpkin as you spoon the mixture out. Enjoy!
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