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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recycle Those Fall Pumpkins into Good Eats!

It makes me somewhat sad to see jack-o-lanterns turning black inside after they've been carved. I know lots of fun was had carving them and decorating with them, but think of the wasted pumpkin that could have been used for tantalizing recipes! 

No, I don't feel that strongly about it, but I do like to use my pumpkins. We give our foster daughters a choice as to whether they'd like to carve or color their pumpkins with markers. Markers are a nice alternative for those who don't like the slimy insides.

Last weekend I cut a couple of the small pumpkins and baked them. You can also microwave or steam them. Take out the seeds and scrape the slimy parts. Cover the pumpkin pieces with foil if you're going to bake them. It will take 1-2 hours at 350 degrees, depending on how big and thick your pieces are.

Check the pumpkin with a knife - when it can easily slide into the pumpkin, you know it's soft. When it has cooled, scrape out the meat with a spoon and puree it in your blender. 

I freeze what I'm not going to use immediately into two-cup servings, as that is what most of my recipes require. I place a quart-size freezer bag in a tall drinking glass and open the edges over the lip of the glass. This serves as a third hand, holding the bag while filling it. When filled, I flatten the bag so it's easy to store in the freezer.

Here are my favorite pumpkin recipes:

1. Side dish. Serve warmed pumpkin with brown sugar as an interesting side dish.

2. Roasted pumpkin seeds. Rinse the slime off the pumpkin seeds in a colander. Take a paper towel and rub it through the seeds to remove some of the moisture. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the seeds on the pan, preferably one layer thick. Salt and stir gently. Bake at 400 degrees until light brown and crisp (about 15-20 minutes), flipping seeds over halfway through. 

3. Pumpkin bread. Makes two loaves. From Three Steps to Planning Dinner.

3 1/2 c. flour                  3 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt                    1 c. oil (I use 1/2 c. oil. and 1/2 c.
1 t. nutmeg                        nonfat plain yogurt or applesauce)
2 t. cinnamon                 4 eggs
2 t. soda                         2 c. pumpkin
2/3 c. water

Sift dry ingredients into large bowl.  Add sugar.  Combine oil, eggs, pumpkin and water and add to dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour into two loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 325 for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Variation:  Sometimes I will substitute bananas or other fruit for the pumpkin and leave out the nutmeg and cinnamon.

4. Curried Pumpkin Soup (the numbers in parentheses represent 2, 4, and 6 servings respectively). From Hassle Free Dinners.

Onion (1/6, 1/3, 1/2 c.)
Minced garlic (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 t.)
Curry powder (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 t.)
Butter (1, 2, 3 t.)
Pureed pumpkin or canned pumpkin (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 c.)
Nutmeg (1/8, 1/4, 3/8 t.)
Sugar (1/16, 1/8, 3/16 t.)
Bay leaf (1/2, 1, 1 1/2)
Vegetable or chicken broth (1, 2, 3 c.)
Milk (3/4, 1 1/2, 2 1/4 c.)
Cornstarch (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 T.)

- Preheat skillet to medium high.  Chop onion.  Saute onion, garlic and curry powder in butter until onion is tender. 
- Add pumpkin, nutmeg, sugar, and bay leaf.  Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.  Take out bay leaf.  Stir in 2/3 of the milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes.  In another bowl, stir together remaining milk and cornstarch until dissolved; then add it to the soup.
- Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Cook a couple more minutes. 

- I doubled this recipe recently and put half in the freezer for Christmas. 

More on cooking:

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 6 - Planning Holiday Meals

Getting the Most Bang Out of Your Produce Buck

Planning Ahead for Dinner