Thanksgiving, Halloween celebrations will be different

Are you thankful for an abundant harvest of zucchini and tomatoes? Chicken tortellini soup with zucchini and tomatoes is easy to make and puts both of them to use.  |  Betty Ann Deobald photo

How we celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween is going to change radically this year.

Large Thanksgiving family gatherings with an abundance of food and fellowship, and family Halloween outings for trick or treating aren’t advisable given the second wave of COVID-19 now rolling through the country.

That provides opportunities for creating new traditions and remodeling old ones.

One of my favourite family Thanksgiving traditions was started years ago by my sister-in-law, Diane MacDonald. As we prepared to say grace before our Thanksgiving meal, she would take a bun and tear off a piece and say what she was thankful for. She’d then pass the bun to the person on her left and they would tear off a piece of the bun and say what they were thankful for. The bun would be passed around the table until everyone had an opportunity to share their thankfulness.

We may be meeting virtually this year and it would give us all an opportunity to share the things we are thankful for if we were to celebrate using an adaptation of this tradition.

Food is an important part of these celebrations and they can be used to add fun and excitement to the remodelled traditions.

Chicken tortellini soup with zucchini and tomatoes

Are you thankful for an abundant harvest of zucchini and tomatoes? This is a simple and tasty recipe that makes use of both. Serve this warm soup on the patio for a socially distanced lunch. Servings: six

  • 1 tsp. canola oil 5 mL
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carton chicken broth 900 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped 375 mL
  • or 1 can diced tomatoes 398 mL
  • 1 pkg. refrigerated cheese or beef tortellini 350 g
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 mL

Add oil and onion to a large pot.

Cook onion one to two minutes, until fragrant. Add broth and tomatoes, heat to simmer.

Add tortellini, turn down heat and simmer four to five minutes. Add zucchini and dried basil. Cook until tortellini and zucchini are cooked. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve add a slice of fresh tomato and fresh basil. Adapted from:

Pumpkin stew

The stew is cooked and served right in the pumpkin shell. This could be a great Halloween evening meal especially if Halloween is going to be celebrated quietly at home.

Use small pumpkins as individual serving bowls. Yield: 8-10 servings.

  • 2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes 1 kg
  • 1/2 c. flour 125 mL
  • 2 tsp. salt 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 2 mL
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil, divided 45 mL
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce 398 mL
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 pumpkin (6 to 10 pounds) or 8-10 small serving size pumpkins

Place the flour, salt and pepper in a sandwich size plastic bag. Add some of the meat, shake bag to coat the meat in flour then place in a hot Dutch oven, brown meat in two tablespoons oil.

Continue flouring the rest of the meat and browning it, add more oil as needed. Add onion and garlic near the end of the browning, stir to avoid burning.

Add tomato sauce, potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer for two hours.

Wash pumpkin; cut a six-to-eight circle around top stem. Remove top and set aside; discard seeds and loose fibres from inside.

Use a permanent marker to draw a face on the side of the pumpkin.

Place pumpkin in a shallow sturdy baking pan. Taste the stew and add more seasoning if needed. Spoon stew into pumpkin and replace top. Brush outside of pumpkin with oil.

Bake at 325F (160C) for one to two hours or just until the pumpkin is tender (do not overbake). Smaller pumpkins will take less time.

Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Adapted from:

Spooky pumpkin pancakes

Use your imagination when putting the batter in the frying pan to create spooky and fun Halloween themed creatures. Serves 10.

Leftover pancakes can be reheated in the oven or toaster.

  • 1 c. Greek fat-free plain yogurt 250 mL
  • 1 c. water 250 mL
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. pumpkin purée 175 mL
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract 10 mL
  • 2 c. whole-wheatflour 500 mL
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder 30 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 ml
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL

Sunflower seeds, nuts, raisins or apple pieces for facial decoration.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, water, eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add a little more water if the batter is too thick.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and lightly coat the pan with cooking spray. Use a spoon to pour and shape the batter into spooky shapes in the pan. Quickly add facial decorations. Cook pancake for approximately 2 minutes or until the top surface is bubbly and the edges are slightly brown. Flip pancake and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat this process until all of the batter is used. Adapted from:

Maple pumpkin oatmeal muffins

This is an updated version of a family favourite pumpkin recipe with the addition of the oatmeal. Serve these muffins warm for breakfast or with coffee when gathering with those in your family bubble. Yield 12 muffins

  • 1 c. quick cookingoatmeal 250 mL
  • 3/4 c. fresh orangejuice 175 mL
  • 1/4 c. canola oil 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar,packed 125 mL
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c. pumpkin purée 250 mL
  • 1 tsp. maple extract 5 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheatflour 310 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 7 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL


  • 2 tbsp. melted butter 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. quick cookingoatmeal 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pecans 30 mL (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL

Oil muffin tins. In a bowl combine rolled oats and orange juice. Let soak for 30 minutes, then add oil, brown sugar, egg and pumpkin. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Prepare topping by combining all of the ingredients and set aside.

In another bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Stir together just to combine. Spoon into muffin tins. Make a small hole the centre of the muffin, place a spoonful of the topping in the hole and press down.

Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick stuck in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

Looking for COVID-19 coping stories

The past six months have been strange, disruptive, freeing and lonely.

How have you coped?

What have you learned or what are you now doing differently?

Please share your experiences, stories and thoughts with us.

A draw for a gift basket of Canadian-made products will be made from all the entries on Dec. 7.

A sample of reader replies will be shared in future columns.

Please send your Coping With COVID Ideas to or mail to:

The Western Producer,
1000-3530 Millar Ave.,
Saskatoon SK,
S7P 0B6

All entries must be received by Dec. 7.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact:

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