Dinner in a Pumpkin

pumpkin dishCourtesy:  Karen Opalka
Prep time: 30 minutes; cooking time:1 to 1/2 hours
Serves 6         

  • 1 small to medium pumpkin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps. brown sugar
  • 1 cup mushrooms, (fresh or canned)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz) can of cream of chicken soup (can substitute cream of celery)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (use your favorite—white, brown or wild rice)
  • 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained (optional)
  • Garnish—chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cut off pumpkin top; thoroughly clean out seeds.
  3. Paint face on pumpkin w/permanent marker or acrylic paint; set aside.
  4. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and leeks, sauté until tender.
  5. Add beef, cook until browned; season w/Salt & Pepper; drain and discard grease from skillet.
  6. Stir in soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms and soup into meat mixture; lower heat to medium.
  7. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; add cooked rice and water chestnuts.
  8. Season w/Salt & Pepper (if necessary); spoon mixture into cleaned-out pumpkin shell.
  9. Cover top of pumpkin w/foil; put whole pumpkin on baking sheet; bake for 1 hour or until inside of pumpkin flesh is tender.
  10. Put pumpkin on serving plate, spoon out meat mixture and scoop out pumpkin flesh.
  11. Enjoy!


Brian’s Mussels and Linguine

Serves 4 to 6Mussels and Linguine
Prep time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 10-to15 minutes

  • 15-to-20 mussels
  • 1 pkg. (12 to 16 oz.) linguine
  • 4 Tbsps. butter
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsps. parsley, chopped (plus extra for garnish)


  1. Rinse and debeard mussels; set aside.
  2. Cook linguine al dente according to package directions; set aside.
  3. In large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onions, garlic; Salt & Pepper to taste; cook until onions are soft, translucent.
  5. Add basil, parsley, wine; bring to boil.
  6. Add mussels; cover; cook 5-to-10 minutes or until shells open (discard mussels that don’t open.)
  7. Add linguine to skillet; carefully toss ingredients together.
  8. Serve in large bowl; garnish w/chopped basil and parsley


Salt & Pepper Preview Lasagna Recipes

Brian’s Pepperoni Lasagna

Serves 8 to 10

  • Lasagna noodles (oven-ready, no-boil brand)
  • 3 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 jar Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsps. parsley flakes
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 package (6 to 8 oz.) pepperoni slices
  • ½ stick of pepperoni, bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. cans)
  • 2 small cans tomato paste (6 oz. cans)
  • ½ tomato sauce can of water
  • 1 Tbsp. basil
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions I

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In medium bowl, mix together cottage cheese, 1 tsp. salt, eggs, Romano cheese, ¼ tsp. pepper, parsley; set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, mix tomato sauce, paste, water, basil, oregano, garlic powder, sugar, Salt & Pepper to taste; set aside.
  4. Brown beef in large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions; cook for a few minutes; set aside.
  5. In large bowl, combine beef onion mixture, pepperoni, tomato mixture; set aside.

Directions II: Layer ingredients in 9” x 13” pan.

  1. 1st layer—lasagna noodles
  2. 2nd layer—cottage cheese mixture
  3. 3rd layer—ground beef mixture
  4. 4th layer—mozzarella cheese
  5. Repeat directions 1 thru 4 until pan is full or you run out of ingredients.

Directions III

  1. Bake for 20 minutes; sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top; bake another 10 minutes or until cheese melts and lasagna is cooked through.
  2. Serve with tossed salad and loaf of bread.

Note: You can prep lasagna a day or two ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.

Chef Tee’s Lasagna

Serves 6 to 8

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • ½ lb. ground beef, crumbled
  • ¼ lb. chorizo sausage, crumbled (buy sausage links, then remove meat from casing)
  • ¼ cup white onion, diced
  • 15 oz. ricotta, whole milk cheese (can substitute mascarpone cheese)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 lbs. mozzarella cheese, shredded ( ½ cup for recipe, rest for topping)
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, chopped
  • 16 oz. favorite tomato sauce plus extra for topping

Directions I

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cook noodles according to box directions, drain, cool, coat w/oil so don’t stick; set aside.
  3. Add beef, sausage, onion in medium sauce pan; cook until meat is brown, onions are soft; set mixture aside.
  4. In medium bowl, add ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, ½ cup mozzarella, oregano, basil, parsley, meat mixture.
  5. Mix ingredients; set aside.

Directions II: Lasagna assembly

  1. Pour 1/3 of meat, cheese mixture in bottom of 9 ½” x 9 ½” pan.
  2. Arrange three noodles, side-by-side, on top of cheese mixture, allowing noodles to run up two sides of pan.
  3. Spread ½ meat, cheese mixture evenly over noodles.
  4. Add 1/3 tomato sauce on top of cheese mixture
  5. Arrange three more noodles, side-by-side, in pan perpendicular to first three , allowing noodles to run up sides of pan.
  6. Spread remaining meat, cheese mixture on top of noodles.
  7. Fold noodles that run up sides toward center to encase cheese mixture.
  8. Trim two inches from edge of three remaining lasagna noodles at perpendicular angle; discard edges.
  9. Lay noodles on top of lasagna; tuck noodles down sides of pan.
  10. Cover w/remaining 1/3 tomato sauce; tint lasagna w/foil cover.
  11. Bake for about one hour; remove from oven; sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top; bake uncovered until cheese melts, golden brown (about 15 minutes).
  12. Cool about 30 minutes; serve w/extra tomato sauce.

Chef Tee’s Asian Tuna Steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Serves 4S n p logo
Prep time: 5-to-10 minutes; Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • 2 tuna steaks, approx. 1” thick
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Wasabi powder
  • Instant mashed potatoes—follow cooking instructions on box then add dried wasabi powder to taste
  • Pickled ginger


  1. Heat skillet over high heat.
  2. Lightly coat tuna with teriyaki sauce and olive oil; season with Salt & Pepper.
  3. Put tuna in skillet; cook for 4 to 5 minutes
  4. Flip tuna; cook other side for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Plate; garnish with chopped cilantro and pickled ginger.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and broccoli.


  • 1-to-2 cups of broccoli florets
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Water
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. Coat bottom of medium pot with water; bring to a boil.
  2. Cut stems from broccoli; discard stems; add florets to pot.
  3. Boil for about 3-to-4 minutes or until desired tenderness.
  4. Salt & Pepper to taste.
  5. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top of the broccoli.