Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkins 101.

So it's probably obvious that one of my favorite things about the Fall season are the pumpkins. I L.O.V.E. pumpkins. Lol :) I love the look of them, the smell of them when you carve them, the seeds, the puree, the recipes you can make with puree. The list goes on and on. Maybe it's because we went to the pumpkin patch every year growing up and got pumpkins - complete with a hayride, an actual pumpkin patch where you pick your pumpkin off the vine and a hay barn that had ropes to swing on, the corn (maize) maze, all of those fun things. We would carve pumpkins as a family, my sisters and I scooping out all of the goop and seeds, my mama roasting the seeds, and my dad letting us pull out the pieces of the jack o' lantern face as he carved it. :)

Now that I have my own little family (and even before we had Jimmy), we have gone to the pumpkin patch every year and gotten a pumpkin or two (or 15 like this year).
We carve a few and I get the seeds out and puree the rest :)
So today, Pumpkins 101. How to roast seeds, how to roast the pumpkin and prepare the flesh for pureeing and freezing. And of course, some fun recipes links. Have a pumpkin you're ready to fix? If not, many grocery stores and farmer's market stands have pumpkins for sale for reduced prices now that Halloween is over (I was just at the grocery today and they had nice large carving pumpkins for $.99 - last week they were $5.99).

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds from one medium-large carving pumpkin
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt (or more if you like super salty)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash chili powder (I use about 1/4 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Begin by cutting the top off of the pumpkin (or cutting the entire pumpkin in half) and scooping out all of the seeds and placing them in a strainer. Run the seeds (in the strainer :)) under warm water and wash them off, pulling out any pieces of stringy or goopy stuff. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter and add the salt, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce. Add the seeds and stir to coat.

Pour seed mixture onto a large baking sheet (that has a rim), and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours, or until seeds have dried out and are somewhat crunchy. Every 1/2 hour or so while baking, mix seeds around using a spatula. Store in an airtight container or zip-loc bag. Enjoy! :)

Pumpkin Pureeing
*Note: I got about 6 cups of pumpkin puree from one medium sized carving pumpkin.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin in half.
Pull all of the seeds out, and then use a spoon and scrape out the rest of the stringy goopy stuff. Place the two halves open side down on a large roasting pan and fill with 1½ cups water. Cover each half with foil and bake for 1 hour or until the pumpkin meat is easily pierced with a fork.
Once the pumpkin is done baking, turn the halves over and scoop out the meat with a spoon and place in a large bowl. Be careful! The pumpkin is super hot. Be careful not to tip the water out of the roasting pan as you are taking it out of the oven.
You can now either use a hand mixer or place the meat in a food processor. Mix (or pulse on the food processor) the meat (pulp? pumpkin pulp? :)) well until it looks pretty much like baby food (I put mine in the food processor and left it on for about 1-2 minutes).
Divide into 1 cup (8 oz.) portions and pour into a freezer-ready zip-loc sandwich baggie. I put a little bit of the pumpkin chunks in the processor at a time and would measure out a cup and then pour into a baggie as I went. After all the pumpkin was pureed and packaged, I put the baggies in the refrigerator to cool the pumpkin down before putting it in the freezer.

Now you have fresh pumpkin puree to use throughout the winter! :) See some yummy recipe links below.

Recipes Using Pumpkin Puree
+ Pumpkin Bars with Icing
+ Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
+ Pumpkin Butter
+ Harvest Pumpkin Brownies
+ Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
+ Pumpkin Spice Scones
+ Cindy's Pumpkin Pie
+ Brown Family's Favorite Pumpkin Pie
+ Pumpkin Cheesecake
+ Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
+ Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

And another recipe a friend gave me that I will be trying soon. Like, maybe today- yummy! :)

Pumpkin Crisp
1 (15oz) can pumpkin (or 2 cups pumpkin puree)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (18.25 oz.) package butter flavored cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted
Stir together first five ingredients. Pour into lightly greased 13x9 dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle evenly with pecans and drizzle butter over the pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temp. with whipped cream and nutmeg.


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