From 2003 to 2006, every October I hosted an annual pumpkin carving party. In 2007, I threw a huge Halloween bash, and last year, I didn't do anything!
Now, I've decided it's time to bring back my beloved pumpkin carving dinner. I supply the pumpkins and a hearty Fall dinner and ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. Since the party is all about creating interesting pumpkin designs, I like to serve a menu that guests can enjoy at their leisure.
For starters, I'll offer an orange and black cheese ball and spicy sausages wrapped in pizza dough.
A huge pot of vegetarian chili will bubble on the stove, and in between carving pumpkins, guests can grab a bowl and top it with an assortment of items like cilantro, avocado, and sour cream. A side of jalapeño cornbread muffins are ideal for dipping. To look at these recipes, read more.
1 1/4 pounds extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup poppy seeds
- Process all ingredients except poppy seeds in a food processor until smooth.
- Transfer to a large bowl lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Unmold onto a plate. Press poppy seeds evenly over surface, rounding top. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.
Serves 12 to 15.
6 spicy Italian sausages
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
15 whole garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 (4-ounce) pieces pizza dough, store bought
- In a saucepan add 1/2-inch water to the pan. Immerse sausages in water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove sausage and dry the pan.
- Return to the heat and add the olive oil on medium heat. When hot return the sausage to the pan with garlic cloves and saute until medium brown all over.
- Remove garlic to a bowl. Remove sausage to a plate to cool.
- Use a fork to mash the garlic with salt and pepper. Stir in mustard and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cut each piece of dough into 2 and roll out until 1/4-inch thick. Cut 6 pieces of dough about 3 inches wide and 1/2-inch shorter than the length of sausage, just enough to wrap around sausage with the ends peeking out.
- Spread bottom of each dough with a tablespoon of garlic/mustard paste. Set sausage on top, moisten 1 dough edge with a wet finger so it sticks together and roll. Press the seam firmly and set them on a lightly floured sheet pan, seam side down.
- Brush with olive oil. Bake until brown all around.
- Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into 3/4-inch long pieces and serve.
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo 1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.
- Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or sour cream, if desired.
Nutrition Per serving (about 17oz/495g-wt.): 230 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1200mg sodium, 37g total carbohydrate (13g dietary fiber, 9g sugar), 11g protein.
One 8.5-ounce box corn muffin mix
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 ears)
4 ounces jalapeño jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- In a large bowl, prepare the mix according to the package directions, using the milk in place of water. Stir in the corn, cheese and basil; season with salt and pepper.
- Grease a muffin pan and fill each cup with batter. Bake until lightly golden, 30 minutes; let cool.