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Pumpkin: It’s not just for carving anymore

We wait all year for the chance to buy pumpkins and it feels like such a waste to throw it out. But wait — you can cook pumpkin!

We make sweet and savory dishes, main dishes, desserts, sides and snacks. This is a very versatile vegetable. Most pies are made with the smaller, sweeter Sugar Pumpkin variety but you can cook and eat regular Halloween pumpkins.

Can you eat a pumpkin after it’s been used as a jack-o’-lantern? There are too many variables for me to say unequivocally yes. Carving the pumpkin opens it up to bacteria that thrive in our warm temperatures.

Placing the pumpkin outdoors invites creepy crawlies looking for a treat and candle flames leave harmful residue.

If in doubt, throw it out. Or throw it on the compost pile. If you wish to eat your pumpkin a better alternative is to paint rather than carve it.

Pumpkin is so easy to cook. Simply roast, boil, or steam the pumpkin until it’s soft, then remove the peel. You can use a stock pot on the stove, or a casserole dish in the oven or a crock pot or microwave.

First, cut the top off and remove the gooey stuff. Make the kids do it, that’s why we have children. Roast the seeds if you wish. Get a spoon and scrape the leftover “strings” out.

Next, cut the pumpkin into manageable pieces. The microwave is the most cost effective way to cook pumpkin. Place pumpkin in a microwave safe dish with a lid. Add a bit of water and cook on high for 15 minutes. See if it’s soft. If not, cook longer until it is.

Allow the pumpkin to cool and use a spoon to remove pumpkin from the shell. To make puree toss it in the blender and blend it until it is smooth. Use immediately or freeze for up to 6 months.

What do I do with the pumpkin? Did you say Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese? Yes, please!

Spiced pumpkin cream cheese is the best thing to happen to a bagel since the invention of the toaster. Light and fluffy, unbelievably smooth and creamy with warm spice notes of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

SPICED PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE

One brick (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup pumpkin puree – canned or fresh

1 -1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons brown sugar – packed

1 tablespoon sugar

Dash of salt

Directions: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.

What else can I do with it? Glad you asked. Spread it on waffles or pancakes. Use it as a filling for a layered spice cake. For a healthier alternative; it’s luscious as a dip for sliced apples. If you have any left you can just eat it with a spoon.

Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Frugal Food contributed by Patti Diamond, author of Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!, www.divasonadime.com.

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