What’s Cooking at Third Coast? Halloween Pumpkins – Meatloaf Style

Before the kids head out to trick or treat, give them a hearty lunch or early dinner. These festive and tasty pumpkins are loaded with good stuff like ground turkey, veggies and spicy turkey sausage. Topped with creamy whipped sweet potatoes, they’re yummy and fun to eat.

Follow my recipe and you’ll have everyone begging for more. This version has some kick, but you can adapt for less spice. Who needs candy corn and chocolate when you’ve got turkey meatloaf pumpkins?

Recipe serves 6.


The ingredients:                                 

1 lb. turkey, ground
8 oz. turkey sausage, spicy crumbled *
5 oz. yellow onion, finely diced
2 oz. celery, finely diced
1 oz. red bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2T garlic, minced
1 cup butter crackers** crushed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup parsley, fresh chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme, fresh
1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
1/2 tsp. marjoram, dried
1/2 tsp. basil, dried
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper***

  *  May use mild if preferred
**   I prefer Ritz, but any butter cracker will do
***  Omit if preferred

Tools you’ll need:

  • Medium and large mixing bowls
  • Pumpkin cookie cutters
  • Baking sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • No-stick cooking spray
  • Paring knife
  • Hand mixer or potato masher

The Technique:

In a medium-size bowl, combine onion, red pepper, celery, garlic, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces until vegetables are well coated. Add ketchup and stir lightly to blend.

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, spices, and herbs. Add the prepared vegetable mixture to this and mix well by hand.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lightly spray it with a no-stick spray. Divide meatloaf mixture into six portions. Fill the pumpkin cookie cutter with the raw mixture. Gently lift the cookie cutter leaving the pumpkin-shaped meatloaf on the baking pan. Continue until all the mixture has been used.

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Gently ease each meatloaf pumpkin from the parchment paper. Set aside to cool.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

2 lbs  sweet potatoes
4 T butter, softened
1 T brown sugar
Milk 2% as needed
S & P to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes until they are soft in the center (easily pierced with a fork or cake tester).* While still hot (but cool enough to handle), scoop potatoes out of skins and into an electric mixer bowl. Add butter and brown sugar. Whip until these ingredients are well combined. Add milk as necessary to achieve the consistency you prefer while continuing to whip and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. (You may also mash by hand.)

*Or you may use your microwave to prepare the sweet potatoes.

Assembly, Decoration and Eating

Frost each pumpkin-shaped meatloaf with sweet potatoes using a small cake spatula or butter knife. With your favorite paring knife, create faces using red and green peppers, turnips or any other vegetable. Decorate each meatloaf as you choose. Get creative!

To enjoy, heat the meatloaf treats in the oven at 375° F for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Serve with cranberry sauce, your favorite vegetable and a big helping of candy for dessert.

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Photos by Cynthia Kallile.

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Cynthia Kallile
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