If you’ve visited our family farm on Jeffrey Road, you know that we get decked out for just about every holiday. If you’re looking to get into the spirit at home, here are some festive ideas to take you from Halloween to Thanksgiving and beyond.
In the last few years, succulent pumpkins have become all the rage. They are super easy and fun to make. All you need is a pumpkin, some reindeer moss and a few of your favorite succulents. Just glue the moss on top of the pumpkin (I use tacky spray), then hot-glue your succulents on top of that. I love using Cinderella pumpkins because of their deep grooves and muted colors.
For Halloween, I add decorative bats and ghosts on top. For Thanksgiving, I might tuck in some maple leaves. Succulent pumpkins look good anywhere – on the table, the mantle or the front steps – and they make great hostess gifts over the holidays.
Dressing up your table
Create a festive tablescape using baby pumpkins as markers for your guests. Decorate them with succulents, as above, and tie a name tag to the stem. Or simply paint your guests’ names directly onto the pumpkins. Place in the center of each plate at the table for an instant, easy wow factor.
Pumpkin serving bowls
Smaller pumpkins can be hollowed out and used for hearty pumpkin soup, dips or pumpkin butter (recipe below).
Larger pumpkins can be used to serve up a variety of snacks. Just turn a bowl upside down atop your pumpkin and trace the shape to create a cutting guide. Hollow out your pumpkin as you would a jack-o’-lantern and place the bowl inside. Fill with cheesy popcorn, chips or even use it as an ice bucket.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Whenever you carve a pumpkin, save the seeds for roasting into a tasty treat! Just pull off the stringy part and place the unrinsed seeds on a baking sheet. I sprinkle them with extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt for flavor, then bake at 225 degrees until they’re crunchy.
Create clusters of pumpkins and squash of different colors, shapes and sizes at the entrance to your home.
Fill planters with fall-blooming plants such as chrysanthemums, pansies, asters and even flowering cabbage and kale. An autumn-themed wreath on your door is a welcoming touch.
MAKE YOUR OWN PUMPKIN BUTTER
Pumpkins and any hard-shelled squash can be intimidating, but this recipe makes them more manageable. Start with a pie pumpkin rather than a carving pumpkin. Rinse, pierce the skin a few times with a sharp knife, then place whole pumpkin on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 until the outer skin starts to shrivel and collapse, about one hour. Cut open, remove seeds and scrape pulp from skin.
• 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin
• 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon salt – I use Maldon sea salt, reduce to ½ teaspoon if using table salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh herbs finely chopped – I like rosemary but use what you like or do a combination of herbs
Use a mixer to combine ingredients until smooth, and no streaks of butter remain. Place in air-tight container and refrigerate up to three days. Serve at room temperature. I recommend this recipe as a spread for fish, chicken, toast – just about anywhere you’d use a savory butter.