Tricky Treats


It’s pumpkin season! Halloween fun and fall harvest celebrations wouldn’t be complete without the pumpkin’s toothy grin or scary scowl. Whether you’re planning a special family dinner, a holiday party, or trick-or-treat sweets, you’ll want to include these pumpkin creations.

Decorating with Pumpkins

With a little ingenuity and time, you can turn an ordinary garden pumpkin into a spooky party decoration or a beguiling table centerpiece. Here’s a tip for carving jack-o’-lanterns: When you cut the top off the pumpkin, cut a triangular notch on the back side. The notch makes it easy to match the edges when replacing the lid.

Spooky Jack-O-Lantern

1 large pumpkin

1 #10 can (such as a shortening can)

1/2 cup salt

3 pounds dry ice, chunked

Flashlight (optional)

Cut off the pumpkin top and clean out the seeds and pulp. Carve a face on the pumpkin. Place the # 10 can inside the pumpkin, add 1/2 cup salt, then fill the can 3/4 full of hot water. If your pumpkin is large enough, place a flashlight behind the can to add drama to the decoration. Drop two or three medium-to-large chunks of dry ice into the can of water. (Be sure to wear gloves when handling dry ice.) The dry ice will send steam filtering from the jack-o’-lantern’s face. When the fog begins to diminish, remove the can and replenish the water. (The dry ice cools the water and causes ice to form around the dry ice, stopping the action. Adding hot water will melt the ice and start the process again.)

Pumpkin Punch Bowl

A jack-o’-lantern punch bowl doubles as a centerpiece. Clean out the inside of a large pumpkin, wiping and rinsing until all fiber and pumpkin strings are gone. Use acrylic paints or marking pens to draw a face on the outside of the pumpkin. Refrigerate the pumpkin until you’re ready to use it, then pour in cider or punch. The cool pumpkin will keep your drink cold throughout the evening.

Pumpkin Treats

These goblin goodies include foods made with pumpkin, as well as foods made to look like jack-o’-lanterns. Each treat is quick and easy to make.

Jack-O-Lantern Dinner

1 small-to-medium pumpkin

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 to 2 tablespoons margarine or cooking oil

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 4-ounce can mushrooms, drained

1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of chicken soup

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Cut off the pumpkin top and clean out all seeds and stringy pulp. Use a black marking pen to draw an appropriate jack-o’-lantern face on the pumpkin. Sauté onions in margarine or oil in a large skillet. Add meat and brown. Drain off grease. Add soy sauce, sugar, mushrooms, and soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Add cooked rice and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Pour mixture into pumpkin. Replace pumpkin top.

Place the filled pumpkin on a baking sheet and bake in a 350° F. oven for 1 hour. The pumpkin itself should be tender when removed from the oven. Place on a serving platter and cover with a large napkin. After the blessing, select someone to uncover the special dish. Serve the pumpkin as a vegetable along with the delicious meat mixture.

Jack-O-Lantern Bundt

You’ll need three cake mixes and two bundt pans for this decorative cake. White cakes tinted with orange food coloring or dark-colored cakes work best. Thoroughly grease and flour the pans so cakes slide out easily. Prepare the cake mixes according to package directions. Pour half the batter into each pan, and bake as usual.

When cakes are done, remove from pans and cool. Cut and remove the rounded tops from each cake so that the top edges are flat. Place one cake, cut side up, on the serving platter. Place the second cake on top, cut sides together, matching ribs to form a jack-o’-lantern.

With frosting or gumdrops placed in toothpicks, make the pumpkin’s face. Fill the cake’s center hole with plastic wrap or waxed paper to hold the stem. To make the stem, blend 3 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature) with 3 cups powdered sugar, and tint with green food coloring. Mold into stem and leaf shapes, and attach to the top of cake with the stem set in the center hole.

Ghost Pumpkin Pie

This ghostly figure transforms your favorite pumpkin pie into a Halloween treat. Use whipped topping in a pressurized can, or place regular whipped cream in a cake decorating bag. Outline the ghost’s form on top of the pumpkin pie with whipped topping, and then fill in the outline. Spread the topping with a knife to make smooth.

Jack-O-Lantern Sandwiches

These Halloween sandwiches will delight young and old alike. Use a dark bread such as rye or pumpernickel. Cut jack-o’-lantern faces in one slice of bread for each sandwich. Make sandwiches with desired filling. Place a slice of cheese over the filling, and position pumpkin face on top. This sandwich will add a special touch to a Halloween party or lunch.

Orange-O-Lanterns

These tiny jack-o’-lanterns make good party favors or treats. Decorate oranges by drawing jack-o’-lantern faces on each with dark marking pens. If you’re using orange-o’-lanterns as favors, let each guest decorate his or her own.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds, well washed

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon salt

Boil seeds in a small amount of salted water for 10 minutes, and then dry on paper towels. Combine Worcestershire sauce, butter or margarine, and salt. Pour mixture over seeds, and stir until seeds are well coated. Bake on a baking sheet for 1 to 2 hours in a 225° F. oven, stirring often. Seeds should be crisp and not burned.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Sharron Vintson

[photo] Photo by Richard M. Romney

[photos] Photos by Eldon K. Linschoten