Pumpkin Carving Party
Don’t wait until the 31st to enjoy Halloween! Here’s a fun event that can be held a few days beforehand and isn’t just for kids. Invite a few families over and host a hearty autumnal supper certain to keep everyone wickedly warm during the outdoor pumpkin carving afterwards.
Setting the Scene
You’ll want to set up a pumpkin carving station for the party, preferably outdoors. (Be sure to let your guests know that part of the party is outdoors so they dress accordingly.) Spread lots of newsprint to cover the table you will be carving at, and place the carving tools down the middle of the table so everyone can share. While this will be an activity supervised by parents, it still makes sense to invest in the safer carving tool sets available at many stores instead of using kitchen knives. Ask each guest to bring a small pumpkin to carve, and be sure to have tea light candles and a long lighter on hand for the party finale.
What to Serve The kids will probably be eating pizza and candy on the 31st, so this is a great night to serve healthier food that highlights the fall bounty. We’ve included recipes for Butternut Squash Soup, Cheddar and Apple Panini Sandwiches, and Petite Pumpkin Tarts. Bowls of soup might prove too awkward for a party, so instead pour the soup into small mugs—many people will forgo the spoons if it’s presented this way. Also, you can always slice the panini into sandwich “fingers,” which makes a great soup dippers.
Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 (in mugs). Recipe can be easily doubled.
What You Need:
- 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons curry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- Salt and pepper
What You Do:
- Peel the squash, scoop out the center, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot, and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes and add the curry seasoning and salt. Stir, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the squash cubes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
- Carefully ladle about half the soup into a blender and puree. Repeat until all the soup has been pureed.
- Return the puree to the pot and stir in one cup of the half-and-half. If you want a thinner soup (good for spoonless sipping), add the remaining half-and-half. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Apple and Cheddar Panini
Makes 8 sandwiches
What You Need:
- 1 Granny Smith or other tart apple
- 1 loaf of sourdough sliced sandwich bread
- ½ pound sharp white cheddar cheese thinly sliced. Note: depending on the age and palates of the kids, you may want to make one batch with sharp white cheese and a more kid-friendly batch with a milder orange cheddar.
What You Do:
- Preheat your panini maker.
- Core and peel the apple, and slice the apple in half. Using a serrated knife (bread knife) take each half and cut very thin slices.
- Place eight slices of bread down. Arrange the cheese slices on the bread, and then fan out 4-5 apple slices on top of the cheese.
- Top each sandwich with a second piece of bread and place 2-3 sandwiches in the panini maker. Follow cooking instructions for your panini maker and repeat until all the sandwiches have been grilled.