JAMESTOWN, N.C. (WGHP) — Halloween is coming quickly, and that means it’s time to carve your jack-o-lantern. 

Plus with all the Halloween candy around, you need a pumpkin-inspired dinner that will be both delicious and nutritious.

Shannon Smith covered all that when she stopped by GTCC in Jamestown for this Recipe Wednesday.

Pumpkin Gnocchi:


  • 1 cup cooked mashed potato (allow to dry/evaporate as much as possible before mashing)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1-1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Additional flour if needed


  1. Mix mashed potato, pumpkin puree and salt into mixing bowl.
  2. Add one cup flour, then more if needed. Dough will be slightly sticky
  3. Using a small scoop or tablespoon, portion equal size ball onto a floured work surface
  4. Roll each ball uniformly with floured hands
  5. Using a string score each ball to make pumpkin shape
  6. Bring salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi until they float to the surface



  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil
  2. Sautee gnocchi on one side till golden brown and heated, remove from pan
  3. Add garlic, sundried tomatoes, spinach and cook till spinach wilts
  4. Add gnocchi back and season with salt and pepper garnish with thyme sprig and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball:


  • 1 Tbs chopped parsley
  • ¼ Cup sliced green onion
  • 1 oz ranch dressing mix
  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1 red bell pepper finely diced, save the stem
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar


  1. Combine all ingredients except cheddar in a bowl and mix together, shape into a ball
  2. Place some of the cheddar cheese on a piece of plastic wrap, place the cheese ball on the cheddar cheese and coat the rest of the ball with the remaining cheddar making it look as orange as possible to resemble the color of a pumpkin.
  3. Wrap the ball in the plastic then use a piece of butcher’s twine or string to make the indentations like a pumpkin, chill overnight if possible, but at least for 3-4 hours.
  4. Unwrap the pumpkin, garnish with bell pepper stem and serve with your favorite crackers or bread.

Tips for Carving or Sculpting a Pumpkin

Wipe Down Pumpkins to Keep Them from Rotting

Before carving, wipe down the outside with a diluted bleach or vinegar solution. This will remove microbes that cause decay. When cleaning out the pumpkin be sure to remove every bit of pulp so it won’t attract any bugs. After carving wipe down all the surfaces, inside and out. Keep your carved pumpkin out of direct sunlight and refrigerate it for up to ten days when not on display, especially if you live in a warmer climate.

Plan and Draw Your Design before You Start Carving

When designing anything, it’s always a good idea to plan out your design before jumping in, especially when you are working with something (like a pumpkin) where there is no going back once you have made a cut! Use a pencil, ball point pen, or tracing paper to draw the design on the pumpkin and then get carving.

Open Pumpkins from the Bottom

This maintains the pretty pumpkin shape and stem. Also, a lot of the gunk inside the pumpkin settles at the bottom overtime, so when you remove the opening much of the pulp and seeds will come out with it, making cleaning easier. Lastly, this also makes placing and lighting the candle easier. Set the candle on the base–you can use long t-pins stuck through the candle into the pumpkin to help hold it in place–and then lower the pumpkin over it.

Separate the Seeds and Goop

As you clean out the pumpkin, put the seeds and goop (aka the pulp) in a large bowl of cold water. Give it a few good stirs and a lot of the gunk will fall to the bottom of the bowl while the seeds float to the top. Once they are separated skim the seeds off the top. Pat the seeds dry and toss them with a little oil, and salt and pepper or add your own seasonings. Roast at 350ºF until until browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Thin the Walls of the Pumpkin

Now that the pumpkin is cleaned out, you will want to thin the walls. Pumpkins tend to have very thick walls, and for the light to shine through, especially if you are etching a design, you will want to thin it to about 1/2 to 1-inch thick. The best and quickest tool for this job is potters’ loop tool. The sharp edges make quick work of biting through the soft pumpkin flesh.

Kids’ Pumpkin Carving Sets Are the Best!

The small saw-type knives in kids pumpkin carving sets are the best for digging into your design. They are small and easy to handle, and the blades are flexible so you can easily turn corners and make round shapes.

For Etching, Try Potters’ or Printers’ Tools

A potters’ loop tool or a lino cutting set used by print makers’ are the ideal tools for carving out those fine details.

Caring for pumpkins after they have been carved


Regardless of the steps you take to preserve your jack-o’-lantern, they won’t last forever. So, if you want them looking their best on Halloween, wait until the last few weeks of October to carve them. 

If you do it too early, you may end up with a shriveled, moldy, or half eaten mes no matter what you do. So timing is a key factor here. 


Heat is the enemy of preservation, so to ensure your carved pumpkins last as long as possible, keep them someplace cool. 

That’s easy for those of us with cold fall temps. But if it’s warm where you live, put them in the fridge, basement, or another cool area indoors during the hottest part of the day. 


When jack-o’-lanterns sit in the hot sun all day long, it will shorten their life. So, if your porch or front stoop receives lots of direct sunlight, move it somewhere shady. 

Or better yet, get creative and make your own shady spot by positioning them behind decorative straw bales, a scarecrow, or other festive decor. 


To ensure the steps you take to preserve your carved pumpkin are as effective as possible, thoroughly remove all of the guts from the inside. 

Any remaining seeds and loose pieces of pulp will contribute to mold and rot, so get as much of it out as you can. The better you scrape out the innards, the longer it will last. 


Heat isn’t the only thing that causes your masterpiece to deteriorate too soon, freezing temperatures can too. 

If it’s going to get below 32°F outside, then bring it into the garage or house overnight. When they freeze, it destroys the cells, which will cause them to shrivel and rot very quickly. 


Moisture is one of the key components of mold and rot. So if you leave it outside in the rain, you can bet it will speed up the decay process. 

This is true even if you take the steps above to preserve your carved pumpkin. So, if you know it’s going to rain, move it into a shed or garage until things dries up. 


The heat from the flame of a real candle actually cooks the inside of your jack-o’-lantern. That can dry it out faster and cause it to shrivel up. 

So instead of using a real one, try something that doesn’t put off heat.