Gearing up for Halloween, we’re seeing everything orange, black, and green. Want to give your family a scare? Rachel Fink from Parenting Pod has the perfect recipe  to share with you!

What screams Halloween better than pumpkins and edible Jack-o’-lanterns? The answer—as you can probably guess—is nothing.

Sure, Halloween is all about the costumes and the candy, but we don’t want to forget the important things about parenting—mainly, feeding our children nutritious and delicious food. We want to make sure their tummies are filled with good stuff—even on Halloween—before they break into their trick-or-treat stash. Since this recipe includes all fresh ingredients including plenty of nutritious veggies, you’ll feel great about feeding your family this fall.

Your kids will go crazy over these Pumpkin Shephard’s Pie Stuffed Peppers, made to look like mini Jack-o’-lanterns. If you lack the ingredients, or you aren’t a fan of shepherd’s pie, you can stuff these babies with other fresh ingredients or with just about any type of leftovers you may have. Other stuffing options include: beans/chicken/turkey with rice/quinoa; sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach with cheese; mac n’ cheese; or chili.

This festive meal provides a twist on the ordinary casserole-dish that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. And if you don’t have the patience to carve out creepy faces, skip it—by all means! The meal will still exude fall spirit, because—well—they look like mini pumpkins!

Jack-O’-Lantern Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Peppers

This recipe contains plenty of healthy vegetables stashed in every pepper. You’ll be using pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, corn, onions, and of course, bell peppers.

Each serving (one stuffed pepper) contains 300-350 calories. You’ll benefit from about 30 grams of protein, and plenty of fiber from the vegetables. This recipe also provides many essential micronutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and many others.

Prep time: 45 min

Cook time: 45 min

Ready in: 1.5 hours

Ingredients

  • ~6 large orange bell peppers

For Meat

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots+ 1 large zucchini + ½ cup frozen corn OR ~2 cups frozen veggie medley
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled cut into cubes
  • 2 cups pumpkin, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp butter (can substitute for 3 Tbsp of your favorite oil)
  • ½ cup milk (almond or cashew milk for dairy-free)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice the top off each bell pepper and reserve. Cut out the seeds and the white part from the inside, and carve a jack-o’-lantern face into each pepper. Set aside in an oven-safe dish.
  2. Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and add potatoes and pumpkin to the pot. Cook for about 15 min or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. While the potatoes and pumpkin are cooking, start on the meat mixture. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the chopped onion. If using fresh vegetables, add those to the skillet after 3 minutes (if using frozen veggies, add those in later). When the veggies start to soften, add the ground meat and the garlic, breaking the meat up every minute or two as it cooks. After about 8 minutes, add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and beef broth. If you’re using frozen veggies, add them to the skillet at this point. Cover a let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  5. While the meat mixture is simmering, transfer the potatoes and pumpkin to a large bowl and begin mashing them. Add in the butter or oil and mash until smooth. Take 2-3 tablespoons of liquid from the meat mixture and add it to the potatoes as well. Add the milk, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and mash some more.
  6. Divide the meat mixture between the peppers, filling each one halfway. Top with mashed potato mixture, and cover with the reserved pepper tops.
  7. Bake for 30-45 minutes until peppers and tender. Enjoy!

Rachel Fink is a blogger at Parenting Pod and a mom of 7 kids. Her best tip for raising a large family while keeping your sanity is to keep around a large stash of coffee, chocolate, and wine.