One of our fall traditions is cutting up the Jack-o-lantern and freezing the meat. Then we can use the frozen pumpkin all year, making pumpkin pies, muffins, etc. This is what really brings home the holiday spirit for me - the smell of baking.
To save your jack-o-lantern, we do the regular carving, just like everyone does, but we don't put a candle in it. Instead you can use one of the plastic glow sticks that can be purchased just about every where this time of year. This year, Jo Ann's Fabrics and Crafts had these small battery operated lights that flickered realistically and brightly.
After carving, we don't leave the pumpkin sitting around - that would just get it dirty and let it rot. Instead we keep it in the refrigerator between carving (which is the last weekend before Halloween) and Halloween night.
On Halloween night, it stays in our entryway - close enough to the door that people can see it, but far enough away that I don't have to worry about some wise ass smashing it or spitting in it, or what ever.
The next weekend we cut up the pumpkin into chunks big enough to roast. Put them on cookie sheet with a little water for steam and cover with aluminum foil. Then let it bake for about an hour-and-a-half at 350 degrees.
Once that's done, let the cooked pieces of pumpkin cool enough to be handled. Cut the meat (pulp?) off of the skin and put the pieces in a blender with a little water. Once you've got it blended, portion it out in freezable containers. Most recipes call for cups of pumpkin, so we keep the frozen portions to one cup each.
You'd be surprised at how much pumpkin this will produce. It's usually enough to get us through the holidays and then some.
One of the recipes we use the pumpkin for is a really good pumpkin cake. This recipe goes great with any holiday meal from Halloween all the way through New Years.
Fall Time Pumpkin Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl mix together the yellow cake mix, sugar, oil, pumpkin, water, cinnamon, and eggs. Mix until well blended, pour in cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with whipped topping if you chose not to frost with cream cheese frosting.
- 1 package (8 & 1/4 oz.) yellow cake mix
- 3/4 cup sugar (we generally substitute Splenda and I've never had anyone complain).
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of your homemade, frozen pumpkin
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs
- Whipped topping or cream cheese frosting
Serves 18 (or about the average size of a family Sunday at my house.)