Holiday Surprises

#1 Stuffed Pumpkins!

I tried this recipe on a whim a few weeks ago and it immediately became a favorite. Adapted (as always) from Taste of Home, this brought oooohs and aaaaahhhhs from everyone around the table - and more - once all had been served and were tasting the delightful sausage-rice stuffing within, they were ooooohing even more! There's nothing I love more than to share something I find absolutely delectable with others (who are appreciative, i.e., not my kids, unless the pumpkin is stuffed with SUGAR)!

Stuffed Pumpkins

Prep: 50 minutes (really true)

Bake: 1 1/4 hours (true there too)

Yield: 8 servings (as a side); 4 servings (as a main dish)

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 teaspoons bullion (I use beef)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Mix spices into water with rice and boil for 40-50 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

1 pound bulk Italian sausage
2 cups chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons dried currants
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

In a large skillet (VERY large) cook sausage until no longer pink; drain and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté the celery, onion, garlic until tender (3 mins). Reduce heat and add currants, broth, and seasonings. Return sausage and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rice.

2 medium pie pumpkins (2 - 2 1/2 pounds each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Wash pumpkins and cut opening in the top, reserving the tops (for lids). Remove and discard the loose fibers (save the seeds for roasting, if desired). Prick inside of each pumpkin with a fork and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Stuff with rice mixture, pressing down firmly; replace tops. Tip: use a small and very sharp knife for the pumpkins!

Place in a 13x9 inch baking dish and add about 1/2 inch of water. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and bake another 50 minutes longer or until tender. Cut each pumpkin into four wedges to serve.

I'm so glad the only pie pumpkins I could find were unusually small. I have half a bowl full of stuffing left and two acorn squash just begging to be stuffed!

#2 No Post-Holiday Aftermath

I didn't have the same "morning after" sensation - tired, dishes left from the previous night, spots on the rug, piles of linens needing to be laundered. The festivities were at my brother's house, despite my sister-in-law just having had surgery last week. It was her choice - she'd rather bake a ham than ride in the car for six hours in one day. I can see her point, though I have to say, though I love hostessing, this time around I was very thankful that I got to ride in the car!

Living to Dining

Ahhhh, so nice coming home.