Follow by Email

Meadow Muffin Gardens logo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yummy Ways to Enjoy those Pumpkins

Every year I buy a few of the smaller sugar pumpkins with good intentions to cut, cook and puree the pulp and roast the seeds.  Then days and weeks pass as I pass them on my porch and ultimately feel pressured to get it done before frost.  Once frost hits them they get soft and start to rot.

Pumpkins were a mainstay in the diet of Native Americans yet in the typical modern lifestyle they are too often only thought about for pumpkin pie during the holidays or for Halloween decorations.  Technically a fruit but served as a vegetable, pumpkins are loaded with B vitamins, essential fatty acids, protein, and zinc.  Carotenoids, what gives them the orange color, are powerful antioxidants that enhance the immune system and enable the body to form vitamin A.  Pumpins and squash are a valuable part of dealing with prostate disorders and diabetes.

To put up a pumpkin:  First wash off any dirt and place the pumpkin on a cutting board.  Use a strong kitchen knife large enough to cut through the hard shell.  Cut the pumpkin in half and using a large metal spoon scrape out all the stringy insides and seeds.  Pull the seeds off the stringy part and put in a separate bowl.  Continue to cut straight down so you end up with vertical strips about 2 - 3 inches wide.  Cut those slices across so you end up with smaller chunks.  Put all these smaller chunks into a big soup pot, add a little water, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer until soft.  Drain and cool till you can touch.  Using your large spoon, scrape the pulp off the shell and put into a strainer to drain off the excess water.  Then transfer to a bowl.  In small batches, puree the pulp in a food processor and measure out 2 cup portions to put into freezer containers and freeze.  Each 2 cup portion is about equal to the typical 15 or 16 oz. can of pumpkin.

Now for ways to get your kids (and/or husband) to eat it!

To roast the seeds:  Wash the seeds with water, lay out on a paper towel and pat dry.  Put them in a bowl and toss them with a bit of oil (about 1 tsp. per cup seeds).  Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt if desired.  Bake at 250 - 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, till toasted.

Fresh Pumpkin Soup:
This recipe comes from Taste of Home
Makes 6 servings
Can be on the table in 30 minutes

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
2   14 1/2 oz. cans chicken broth or 29 oz homemade
2 cups pumpkin puree or 1  15 oz. can
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp gound nutmeg
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used evaporated milk and it turned out fine)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the butter until tender.  Remove from the heat and stir in the flour until smooth.  Gradually stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about five minutes or until heated through.
Great with a salad and corn muffins or crusty bread.

A great alternative to the usual vanilla or chocolate flavored pudding for dessert

Pumpkin Pudding
Makes 8 servings
Ready in 5 minutes

1 package (5.1 oz) vanilla instant pudding
1 can (12 oz) fat free evaporated milk
2 cups or 1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Beat together the pudding and the milk.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes.  Mix in the pumpkin and spice.  Regrigerate for another 10 minutes.

A favorite for a healthy breakfast, lunch box or after school snack
Pumpkin Chip Muffins
Makes about 24 standard-sized muffins
Shown are several ways to alter this recipe

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups or 1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil  (or can subsitute 3/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup applesauce)
3 cups all-purpose flour (or can substitute 1 1/2 cup all-purpose and 1 1/2 cup wheat or other type)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or cinnamon chips (or can substitute 1 cup chips and 1 cup oats)

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil (or oil and applesauce) until smooth.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Add dry mixture to the wet pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Fold in the chocolate or cinnamon chips (or chips and oats).
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups about 3/4 way full.  A 1/3 cup measuring cup works great for dipping out each muffin cup portion of batter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 16 - 20 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.  These also freeze well.