Allyson Garcia
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8 Pro Tips for Carving the Perfect Pumpkin


1. Good carving starts with the right pumpkin.

Choose one that is fresh, with a sturdy stem and no bruises, and that has a flat bottom so it won’t roll.

2. Cut out the lid on an angle, not straight up and down.

This way the lid won’t drop inside the pumpkin when you replace it. A boning knife works best for this.

3. Scoop out all the pulp — and then some.

You can buy a special “claw” for this, but an ice cream scoop will do just fine. Thin the inner wall of the “face” area to 1 1/4-inch thick, so it will be easier to pierce the shell.

4. Hold the pumpkin in your lap when it’s time to carve the features.

It’s easier to carve when the face is gazing up at you. And don’t cut on a slant; clean up-and-down slices look best. To make intricate designs, try using a small saw. Pumpkin Masters makes a pumpkin-carving kit with a 4-in-1 tool, a scraper tool, a saw, a drill, a pounce wheel, and 14 patterns.

5. Use your scraps creatively.

Make a tongue out of a discarded piece of pumpkin shell, for example.

6. Keep your pumpkin fresh.

Spread petroleum jelly on the cut edges to seal in moisture. If your pumpkin still shrivels a few days later, you can revive it with a facedown soak in cold water for up to eight hours.

7. If you like to leave the lid on while the candle is lit, create a chimney.

First, leave the lid on for a few minutes while the candle burns, then make a small hole where the lid has blackened.

8. Sprinkle a little cinnamon inside the lid.

When you light the candle, your jack-o’-lantern will smell like a pumpkin pie.

Setting the season






Vibrant dahlias in carved-out mini pumpkins delight at place settings. We used a candle carver—a small tool that removes candle-size chunks from fruits and veggies. Insert a votive holder as the “vase” for water and blooms.

Autumn Harvest Cobbler Recipe


TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 15 min.
MAKES: 12 servings
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups cold water, divided
  • 6 large tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups biscuit/baking mix
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Whipped cream
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Nutritional Facts

1 serving (calculated without whipped cream): 245 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate (33g sugars, 3g fiber), 3g protein .


  1. In a large saucepan combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and 1-3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Stir in the apples, raisins, apricots and lemon juice. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth. Stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl combine biscuit mix and milk just until blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto hot apple mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and lemon peel.
  4. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream. Yield: 12 servings.
Originally published as Autumn Harvest Cobbler in Simple & Delicious October/November 2011, p58

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