I'm posting this information because I used to be intimidated by real pumpkins but have learned how easy it really is. And since it's the time of year, I'll be posting several recipes with pumpkin. I highly recommend using fresh, it tastes sooo much better. Also, butternut squash is an excellent substitute for pumpkin, in fact I think it makes better pumpkin pie than pumpkin. So you can exchange butternut squash for pumpkin and vice versa.
To cook either of these, simply cut off the stem, cut in half, remove all the seeds, place cut side down on a microwave safe pan (the pampered chef small bar pan works perfect for this) and microwave on high for 10 minutes (if you're using a large pumpkin you'll need to increase the time- you can usually tell because the top will start to cave in and the flesh will be soft). That's it! Let cool a bit then scrape out the flesh, mash or puree and use in your favorite recipe. I prefer a bit of texture in mine just because it feels homemade. You can also scoop into freezer bags and freeze, makes it easy to pull out and make yummy recipes like these pumpkin muffins.