Tag Archives: apples

Stuffed Pumpkin: Savory or Sweet

Pie Pumpkins

Pie Pumpkinsl for baking stuffed pumpkin

Our pioneer grandmothers cooked a lot of pumpkins before they could get their proper gardens going.  Do you suppose they ever got bored with plain slices of pumpkin or mashed pumpkin?

I have been experimenting with some of those cute little pie pumpkins, and decided to share with you two stuffed pumpkin recipes, although the directions are pretty vague.  You may have tried out the macaroni baked in a pie pumpkin, but if you did not, you might want to look back there for more info on pie pumpkins and how they differ from the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins.

Not only did I make stuffed pumpkins, I  also baked a couple of the pie pumpkins and scoop out the meat, which I pureed with my hand blender. I used the puree in cookies (recipe coming soon) and waffles.

Now that you understand the benefits of pie pumpkins–here we go with two other ideas for using the pie pumpkins for stuffed pumpkin dishes.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

My savory stuffed pumpkins started with a box of Baby Bella Mushrooms. I only needed seven for one pumpkin.


Baby bell mushrooms

After buttering the inside of the pumpkins, I chopped the mushrooms and added a little salt, a little thyme and a lot of parsley.

Mushroom mixture for stuffed pumpkin

Mushroom mixture

Next, I cut the tops off the pie pumpkins, the same way I would if making a Jack-o-lantern.  Then I scooped out the seeds and stringiest part of the interior. [Note: this is the only hard part of these recipes.  Some people keep the seeds and roast them.  Personally, I don’t want to keep finding the stringy stuff connected to the seeds. If you have found an easy way to clean the seeds, please let me know!]

After I loosely packed the mushrooms into the pumpkin shell, I poured in about 1/3 cup of half and half. Then it occurred to me that a bit of cheese would be good, so I added what I had on time–a slice of mozzarella. [NOTE: BAD CHOICE.  Next time I will use a more melty cheese like Gouda or maybe goat cheese.] I topped the pumpkin/cheese stuffed pumpkin with the “lid”.

Stuffed pumpkin with lids

Two pumpkins with lids ready to bake

After baking on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, it looked like this. (Time will vary. Check by sticking a fork into the meat of the pumpkin. When it goes in easily, the pumpkin is done.)

Baked stuffed pumpkin

Baked mushroom-cheese pumpkin

Sweet Stuffed Pumpkin

Next, I decided to use up a single large apple I had in the refrigerator.  I chopped it and mixed with a little brown sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg. It went into another pumpkin that I had hollowed out and smeared on the inside with some butter.


Stuffed pumpkin ready to bake

Popped the lid on the top and baked the apple-stuffed pumpkin along with the mushroom-stuffed pumpkin.

apple stuffed pumpkin

baked apple stuffed pumpkin

Both of these dishes turned out pretty well, but don’t make my mistakes:

Mistake number one:  I let the pumpkins sit on the shelf too long before I baked them, and they got stringier than they should have been.  Use them when they are fresh as possible.

Mistake number two:  As mentioned above–use a melty cheese on top of the mushrooms.

One more warning–you must have mushroom fans in your family if you serve the savory version of stuffed pumpkin.  This is all about mushrooms!!

I confess this is not a vintage or historic recipe, however, I can imagine grandmothers actually baking apples in pumpkins, since they relied so much on pumpkins in the frontier. Plus I mentioned once before a pumpkin-apple pie recipe so we know that combination would be one that earlier ancestors in aprons would have used.

Autumn Stuffed Chicken Breasts

October may not be the showiest month of the year in Southern Arizona (for fall leaves we have to drive up nearby Mt. Lemon–all of 45 minutes away) but it is my favorite month of the year. Temperatures are predictably moderate.  Windows and doors can be wide open all day and no A.C. or furnace needed.  So despite the doubters–we do have autumn.

Chicken Breast

Autumn Stuffed Chicken Breast, browning before cooking.

This recipe for Autumn Stuffed Chicken Breasts is not an ancestral hand-me-down, although stuffing things into other things is a very long tradition in cooking.  Very popular in the 16th and 17th century, and I have no doubt the Romans and Greeks stuffed fowl, too.

In my never ending quest to channel my ancestors who never let anything go to waste, I looked at what was in the fridge and thought, I could chop up that withering apple, mix in some of those dried cranberries that I keep forgetting about, and use up that little chunk of cheese.  I just need to thaw a boneless chicken breast and make stuffed chicken breasts.  Grandma would be proud.

Just like Grandma, I always have a chicken to eat. Except Grandma would have gone out to the yard, picked a chicken that had not been laying well and wrung its neck. Then she would hang it by its feet on the clothesline to bleed out.  Later she would boil a pot of water, take it outdoors, dip the chicken in the hot water and then sit at an outdoor table surrounded by a cloud of feathers as she plucked away. Finally there are those pesky pin feathers, that need to be singed in order to get them off. In older times, a wood fire, and in my Grandma’s day the gas flame from the stovetop would work. And then there’s the butchering.

Thanks goodness for grocery stores and freezers!

Once I had dreamed up my recipe for stuffed chicken breasts, I went looking through my old recipe books to see if I could find anything remotely similar. (No matter how creative I think I am, when I search on the Internet for a recipe similar to one I just “invented”, I find dozens almost identical to the one I thought I created.)  Interestingly, although some of the older books had stuffed poultry, it was almost always stuffed with another kind of meat rather than the fruits and cheese I wanted to use.  So until I can find proof otherwise, this is a modern concept.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts


  • chicken breasts, boned and skinned (two large or four small)
  • 1 apple (diced)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cheese (diced. Cheddar, or substitute what you have on hand.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for browning)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (fro browning)
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 cups chicken broth (unsalted)
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs ((If you have them))


1. Put cranberries in small dish or cup and cover with water to reconstitute while making the rest.
2. Cut pocket in small breasts (or if larger than 1/2" thick, cut in half and cover with waxed paper and smash with mallet or blade of knife until about 1/4" thick).
3. Mix drained cranberries into apple-cheese mix and season with salt and pepper. Stuff chicken breasts, securing with toothpicks if necessary. Salt and pepper outside.
4. Brown chicken breasts in olive oil and butter, just until brown on outside, about 4 minutes.
5. Pour balsamic and broth mixture into skillet around breasts and add thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil and then reduce to fast simmer. Cook until chicken is done through. (Picture here shows chicken while browning--before cooking.)
6. Remove chicken from skillet and put on plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Bring broth to boil and reduce until syrupy. Pour sauce over chicken to serve.


Important! The photo used to illustrate this shows stuffed chicken breasts browning, but still raw inside. Be sure to cook thoroughly.

Cheese: Use up what you have, or what sounds good to you. Feta would be very good in this recipe. Cheddar is the go-to for cooking with apples. I happened to have some goat cheese and some cheddar/monterey jack so that is what I used. I think it would be improved with a stronger flavored cheese like asiago or feta or parmesan.

If you want to make a fancier dish, you can slice the chicken in rounds for serving. I took the easy way out and just folded the split breast over the filling and fastened it with toothpicks.

Broth--use cider instead of balsamic vinegar to up the apple flavor.

Molasses Apple Upside Down Cake

An Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake with a little help from Harriette and Betty

I started the day in a frugal mood.  A bowl of apples shoved to the back of the refrigerator, were threatening to wither and turn brown.  Oh no! My grandmothers and great-grandmothers would not stand for that!

Remembering that incredible butter and molasses spread I had discovered along with this recipe for pumpkin/cornmeal bread, I cored and sliced the apples and threw them in a skillet with butter.  When they were nicely browned, I drizzled them with molasses.

Apples and molasses

The apple slices browned in butter and molasses

But what do do next?  Maybe put them over a cake? It was time to pull out one of those vintage product cookbooks from my shelf.  This one–Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook (1966)–seemed perfect.  Betty always has a suggestion, and this book takes you from the basics of baking (with a mix of course) to some fancy decorating.But everything in the book seems doable for the ordinary person.

I love how the illustrations show imperfect decorations.  See the dribble on that little petit four in the foreground?  It makes the reader feel that they could do this do.  Maybe our expectations in the 1960s were a bit tamer than today?  Unless you count the expectation that we would polish silver and actually have a tea party with several kinds of cake.

But back to the recipe search–as I thumbed through the book, I saw several pages of upside-down cake recipes, including an apple upside-down cake. Ah-ha!

One of my mother’s go-to desserts that we all loved, was pineapple upside-down cake. How I loved that gooey syrupy top that surrounded the pineapples and maraschino cherries that Harriette Kaser baked on the bottom of an iron skillet, until it was carefully turned upside down in all its glory.

The Betty Crocker Cake Book suggests using one jar of cinnamon apple rings, drained, instead of pineapple slices in their basic pineapple upside-down cake recipe.  Pour 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick),  into the cake pan and top with brown sugar and  the pineapple slices and cherries.

Betty Crocker cake mix

Betty Crocker cake mix and recipe for Upside-Down cake

I already had a skillet with apples browned in butter an molasses (instead of brown sugar).  All I had to do was arrange them, mix up the Betty Crocker© spice cake mix and pour it over the top.

 upside-down cake apples

Cooked apples arranged for upside-down cake.

The book suggests using one-half of the prepared mix. Because my skillet was a little larger than a regular 9″ cake pan, I used a bit more than half. ( I made the remainder of the batter into cupcakes, to freeze for later.)

The cake needs to bake at 325 degrees (since the pan is dark), and took about 45 minutes.

With upside down cakes, you must invert them on the serving plate immediately when they come out of the oven.  With a cake pan, that is fairly easy, but with a heavy iron skillet and a heavy platter, it is a challenge.  As you see, it didn’t break up and fall apart (whew!), even though I did not get the cake centered on the platter. Imperfect. Just like a real cook.

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Cake

The only remaining challenge is letting it cool before I can dig into that molasses-buttery goodness.

Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake

Serves 10-12
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Molasses
  • 5 Small apples (cored and sliced)
  • 1 box Spice cake mix


1. Melt butter in iron skillet
2. Stir in sliced apples. Cook until soft (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Drizzle molasses over and stir to coat apples. Arrange apples in an attractive pattern in pan.
4. Mix cake mix according to directions on package
5. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the skillet on top of the apples.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (Or bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees if using a 9" round cake pan)
7. When you take skillet (or pan) out of oven, immediately invert onto serving platter. Leave skillet on top of cake for about ten minutes. Lift off and let cake cool on platter.
8. Serve plain or with whipped cream.


You can use the remainder of the cake batter to make a one-layer cake or 9-12 cupcakes, following baking directions on cake mix box.

If you do not care for spice cake, substitute another flavor of cake mix.

Used copies of Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook are available at Amazon.com. If you purchase through this link, you are supporting AncestorsinAprons.com and helping with my research. Even though it costs you no more, I make a few cents on each sale through my links. THANKS!