Menifee Foodie: Delicious Treats With a Pumpkin Flavor

By Malissa Meeks

Pumpkin: What a tasty, wonderful squash. What child in America does not want to go to the pumpkin patch and select the perfect pumpkin with his or her imagination going wild, thinking about the masterpiece that could be made out of this awesome representation of Autumn and Halloween?

Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, Potassium, fiber and fun. They represent part of American history; they were a main food source for American Indians and were around long before they discovered corn. Pumpkin was a major food source for the Pilgrims. Pumpkins are magical, as they can turn into a beautiful carriage to take a perfect princess to a life-changing ball. Hey, I have even been known to call my chubby granddaughter Saylor a pumpkin.

That being said, I dedicate this column to the pumpkin.

When you cut into your pumpkin, do not toss out the seeds. What a fun and quick activity to roast those seeds and share this healthy treat with your kids! Try this recipe:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Olive Oil

Cut open the pumpkin and scoop out all of the seeds with a spoon -- or your hand, if you dare to feel the creepy, web-like stringiness of the pumpkin guts. When you cut the top, cut with your knife at an angle so the top can be placed back on the pumpkin and not fall into the pumpkin.

Place in a colander and separate the seeds from everything else.

Place seeds in a medium saucepan and for every two cups of seeds, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom of cookie sheet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the seeds out in a single layer. Bake for 5-20 minutes (depending on the size of the seeds). When nicely brown, remove from oven and pour out onto a paper towel to cool. Once cool, eat up.

Now that you have a cleaned out your pumpkin, why not create a dinner in a pumpkin! This is a really fun family dinner.

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 Medium pumpkin cleaned out (the size of a volleyball).
1 ½ lb. ground beef
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. brown sugar
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked rice
1 can water chestnuts (drained)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1. When removing the top of the pumpkin, cut in at a slant so the lid will not fall into the pumpkin once it is placed back on the pumpkin.

2. In skillet, heat oil. Brown ground beef. Once brown, add onion and sauté until onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients.

3. Place ingredients into pumpkin.

4. Place on 9x13 pan or cookie sheet.

5. Draw a fabulous face on your pumpkin.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 2 hours. It is done when the mixture inside is bubbling and the pumpkin is soft.

7. Once done, top with cheese.

8. Serve.

Remember, the pumpkin is a squash and the meat of the pumpkin is delicious with some butter and brown sugar on it.

What a fun dinner for your family. Life is about creating memories. Enjoy creating some pumpkin memories with yours.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every Tuesday. Leave comments here or email them to


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