Around three o'clock this afternoon I started to feel a little feisty. So I cranked up Journey's Greatest Hits, kicked off my new wedge rain boots and let my hair down from the perpetual ponytail. I decided that for the first time in my life, I was going to blindly make dinner - without looking at someone else's recipe.
Inspired from a recipe my mom "used to have" but "can't find anymore", I decided to gather all the veggies that needed cooking, thaw some beef from the freezer and make use of four sugar pumpkins I've had on my counter. Here's what I did:
4 small sugar pumpkins, cleaned of seeds and pulp
1 lb. of grass-fed ground beef, seasoned with s+p
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 small carrots, diced into 1/2" pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow squash
1 teaspoon of allspice
1/8 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
Handful of chopped Italian parsley
4 cups of cooked brown rice.
Heat the oven to 375 F. Cut the pumpkins carefully, ideally making a notch where the top can fit back on. Clean the pumpkins out. Discard pulp and set seeds aside for toasting. Brush olive oil on the inside of the pumpkins and lightly season with salt.
Turn the pumpkins upside down on a lined baking sheet. Cover with foil and roast in oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Pumpkins are ready when they are softened, but still holding their shape.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and saute the ground beef until just cooked through. Add the tomato sauce and mix. Remove beef from pan and put on a dish. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion and carrots until onions are a golden brown.
Add garlic, pepper and spices and cook for a couple minutes more. Next add the squash and most of the parsley (save some for garnish) cook for about two minutes more. Return beef to pan and mix together. Remove from heat.
Fill warm pumpkins with a couple scoops of rice, top with beef and vegetables and sprinkle with parsley.
I have to say - I'm pretty proud of myself. I only ever follow recipes. But I'm thinking I need to start taking some chances and creating some of my own dishes. Here is my first - and it was pretty darn good! A great tradition to do once a year around Halloween.