PUMPKINS – Yup it’s getting to be that time of year

A few years back my mother-in-law had sent home a few pie pumpkins. I had never used pie pumpkins before. I was kind of scared to try making my own puree, however after making it I’m not sure what I was ever scared of. And the taste is so much better than the store-bought stuff. I was surprised at how easy it really was. I now grow my own pie pumpkins every year, so I can freeze pumpkin puree yearly.

I am also posting a couple recipes further down for the use of the fresh puree, besides pumpkin pie, and let us not forget the seeds!! What is Fall without pumpkin seeds!! In case it isn’t obvious I LOVE PUMPKIN SEEDS!! Reminds me a lot of my childhood. I used to buy pumpkins this time of year just to get the seeds out. This year I am also going to roast butternut squash seeds as well (squash seeds are processed the same way pumpkin seeds are roasted). Anywho …

Pumpkin puree … you can use the store bought, but homemade is sooooooo much better. No processed additives or preservatives, and so easy to make.

PUMPKIN PUREE

First wash the pumpkin well, no need to use soap you just want to get the dirt off.  I removed the stem, I don’t know if it would have caused any problems or fires, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Then pierce the pumpkin all over. I used a roasting fork to pole holes in the pumpkin. You want to make sure to the holes go all the way through the flesh of the pumpkin. Next put it in the microwave for around 10 min. Meanwhile turn the oven on 350 and let it start warming up.

Carefully removed the pumpkin from the microwave and let it cool a little. It will be hot to the touch. Cut it in half and removed the seeds and stringy insides. Save the seeds if you want to make pumpkin seeds (Recipe Below).

Turn the pumpkin cut side down on a pan. I was told you should put parchment paper down first but I was fresh out, so I baked it without any. Bake in the oven for 30-45 min or until a fork can be pushed through the pumpkin flesh without any resistance.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven.

Using a spoon carefully scrape the insides of the pumpkin out of the skin. If the pumpkin is ready this will be easy to do.

Working in batches put some of the pumpkin pulp in a food processor and puree. Move the puree into a screen strainer and drain all the extra juice from the puree. You can save the pumpkin juice to use in other recipes, I do not have any at this time, but I am looking into it.

Once drained the puree is ready to use or freeze. Use just as you would the store-bought stuff.

To freeze put the puree into zip-lock freezer bags, squeeze out as much of the air as possible, seal and freeze. I put 2 cups into each of my bags as most recipes call for 2 cups of puree.

RECIPE #1…

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

First off I can not take any credit for this recipe … My man sent me a copy on Google +. Since I was making pumpkin puree I figured why not try it … OMG!!! Delish!!!

I was able to make 24 muffins with this recipe. Heads up … this recipe takes a couple hours to make. Not that it is hard to make it is rather easy. It’s because the cream cheese filling needs to sit in the freezer to firm up.

FILLING

8 Oz Pkg of Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar

MUFFINS:

3 Cups all-purpose flour
4 Large eggs
2 Cups sugar
2 Cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 Cups vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp pumpkin spice

PREPARATION:

1. To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. transfer to the freezer and chill until slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a standard 12-well muffin pan with baking spray

3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin spice, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

4. In a separate bowl using an electric mixer on med-low speed combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil until blended. Turn mixer to low and add in the dry ingredients, mix just until incorporated

5. Drop about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup, spreading to cover the bottom well.

6. scoop a small amount of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. then top each with remaining batter, covering the cream cheese completely.

7. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the cake part on one comes out clean, about 30 min (Not inserted into the middle where the cream cheese mixture is). The tops of the muffins will feel firm to the touch.

8. Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you’re able to handle them, transfer from the pan to a rack

**If you serve the muffins while warm, the filling may still be hot.

RECIPE #2 …

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

CAKE:

1 Cup Veg oil

1 Cup Brown sugar

1/2 Cup sugar

4 Large eggs

1 Cup Pumpkin puree

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBSP. Pumpkin pie spice or 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp each of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves

2 Cups All-purpose flour

1/2 Cup Toasted chopped walnuts (opt)

1 cup golden raisins or 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup ginger mini-chips (opt)

FROSTING:

8 oz. cream cheese softened

1/4 Cup unsalted butter softened

2 Tbsp Maple syrup

2 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1/8 tsp salt

1 Cup Toasted Walnut pieces (Opt)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease and flour a large rimmed pan (cookie sheet about 18×13). Or line with parchment paper
  2. Beat the oil and the sugars together until well blended
  3. Beat in the eggs, then the pumpkin puree
  4. Stir the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice into the wet ingredients, then stir in the flour. beating to combine
  5. Stir in the nuts and raisins/ginger (if using)
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 min. or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 min then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Or leave in the pan if lined with parchment paper.
  8. To Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together.
  1. Beat in the maple syrup, then mix in the confectioners sugar and salt. Adjust the consistency of the frosting with additional maple syrup of confectioners sugar if necessary: it should be spreadable.

10. Frost the bars and sprinkle with toasted walnuts (if using)

Once the frosting has set somewhat, cut into squares.

 

Pumpkin Seeds

First thing first … . Whether you are using a pie pumpkin or carving one for Halloween you need to gut your pumpkin.

Next remove as many of the big stringy guts out as you can,

Add water to the bowl of seeds. Use a whisk to stir the seeds. This is a little trick I have learned

Carefully skim the seeds off the top. It’s that simple 🙂 The pumpkin guts will fall to the bottom of the bowl.

Give the seeds a good final rinse in a screened sieve … let the moisture drain off.  While the seeds are draining turn the oven on 300 deg.

Put the seeds on a baking sheet and you are ready to start baking …

Put the seeds in the oven and bake until dry, around 50-60 min. stirring occasionally/

Remove the seeds from the oven and turn the oven up to 350. Mix the seeds with your favorite seasoning. Return seeds to the oven and bake another 10-15 min.

This is a recipe I really like.

2 cups seeds

2 Tbps. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1//4 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix the above ingredients in a large bowl. Toss the seeds into the mixture and stir to coat. Place the seeds back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven.

Bake seeds another 10-15 min. Remove from oven, stir, cool and eat.

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