I always make this casserole the day we carve our pumpkin. When carving your jack-o'-lantern, save the cutout nose, mouth, eyes, etc., to decorate this face-shaped casserole.
- Fry 1 pound sausage and 1 cup chopped onion on the stove top until brown.
- Add 2 cups cubed, raw pumpkin pulp (you can get about that much by cutting off the pulp from the bottom of your jack-o'-lantern lid).
- Cook the pulp for about 5 minutes, until the pumpkin starts to soften.
- Stir in 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup and 1/4 cup whole milk and remove from the heat.
- Grease an oval or round casserole baking dish (about the size of a face).
- In the empty dish, mix 2 cups Bisquick mix with 3/4 cup water, spreading the dough evenly on the bottom of the dish.
- Pour the meat mixture on top of the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese on top of the casserole.
- Spray the "face parts" lightly with spray oil and arrange on top of the casserole.
- Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the face parts are lightly browned and the dough has cooked through.
(6 servings; approximate cost per serving: 75 cents)
Pickled Pumpkin Rinds
If your lantern survives the night of hell-raising by neighborhood teens and shows no signs of worrisome rot, inordinate candle scorching or excessive wax buildup, real cheapskates separate themselves from the rest by pickling the rind of their jack-o'-lanterns the day after Halloween.
- One of my Miser Advisers, Doris Sharp, gave me this old German recipe:
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove orange outer skin, and then cut the white-colored rind (about 1-inch thick) into 2-inch squares.
- Cover pumpkin cubes with apple cider vinegar and let soak overnight. Remove the pumpkin from the vinegar (discard* the vinegar) and let it dry on a towel.
- Make a mixture of fresh vinegar, sugar, ginger and cinnamon, and bring to a boil on the stove. (For each pound of pumpkin, use 3/4 pound sugar, 2 cups vinegar and a piece of fresh ginger. Add a stick of cinnamon for the whole batch of several pounds.)
- Add the pumpkin and simmer until the pieces are translucent and golden yellow, about 3 hours on low heat. Never stir with a spoon; just shake the pot occasionally so the pumpkin doesn't fall apart.
- Can and seal, or store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.
(*Doris is uncomfortable with the thought of discarding anything, even spent vinegar, so she instead uses it to clean some windows around her house while her pumpkin rinds are cooking. You gotta love a truly frugal woman.)
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.
Updated October 2012