The Great Pumpkin

Pumpkins pumpkins pumpkins!!!

It’s autumn and Halloween has come and gone and the grocery stores are fairly full of leftover pumpkins. While most pumpkiny treats depend on smooth and sweet ‘pie’ or ‘sugar’ pumpkins (like the ones which almost grew in my garden…) or canned puree, all the same fantastic offerings can be created with big ol’ jack-o-’lantern pumpkins! I learned this when J arrived home with five huge orange orbs, purchased for the incredible price of only $1 each. Seriously, at a dollar a squash you just can’t go wrong. One dollar!

 Granted, processing five pumpkins requires much work and some basic materials. If working with a newborn, a baby carrier or extended nap time is a must. If working with a two-year old, extended patience and humor is definitely required. If working on little sleep, a tinge of ‘crazy’ is requested, but that’s already a given since you’re tackling five pumpkins with a newborn and a toddler. But, work and mess and silliness aside, it really does seem worth it simply given the food value presented; financially and nutritionally.

 I began by slicing and scooping. This was Jem’s favorite part as he carefully picked out the seeds and placed them, one by one, into a bowl. Perfect activity for busy little hands! I did my best to remove most of the stringy innards (more difficult with this kind of pumpkin) and then placed them on a large cookie sheet with some water, and baked for about an hour at 350. I started in the same manner with the next batch, but chose to boil the pieces in a large pot. This was a way better option as the flesh came out much mushier and better for purees.
The cooked flesh was drained and mashed, then sent into the freezer, fridge, or the baking bowl. Five pumpkins provide a lot of food to work with! Just one small one gave two big pies, two loaves, and a big bowl of puree for other projects.

 From this point, use the pureed pumpkin for anything you would use bananas or applesauce. Loaves, muffins, cookies, pies, and pancakes are perfect. Soup and curry are also fantastic. This veg’ is packed in vitamins, fiber, and ‘full factor’, while being low calorie and versatile. Again, yes, lots of work. But if we weren’t moving I’d totally buy10 or 15 and freeze up bags of the stuff. Well worth it.
[It’s so interesting to me how thousands of these vegetables are trashed every year after Halloween, when they can provide a family with so much, even after jack-o-lantern use! It just takes re-thinking their purpose and suddenly there are plates of provision available.]

 Anyways. We had pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and I’m off to enjoy one of the amazing muffins with my (decaf) cup of beans. I think we’ll be baking up more muffins tomorrow, and Sunday (always soup and bread for lunch) will be a sweet’n’spicey pumpkin soup. Oh, I even added matchstick-cut slices to our thai curry last night and J didn’t have a clue. Nice.

Recipes to try
(note: Recipes with my name are original to me, so please note that if passing them on as they’ll be put to project use in the future. Also, they’re kind of in experimental mode so…yeah.)

 Dea’s Filled-Option-Lovin’ Pumpkin Muffins
(Papa and Bambino approved)

3 (or 3 ½?) cups whole wheat flour OR your favorite gluten free flour option.
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
(OR, just 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of these, I just love what the cinnamon brings in)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs
4 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil (I use olive or melted coconut)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey & 15 drops stevia (added into wet ingredients) OR another ½ cup honey OR…just as is, especially if adding chocolate or raisins (I’m just really random with sweeteners. These seem super sweet to me, but it’s up to your taste…)

Awesome Optional add-ins by the 1/2 cup:
chocolate chips (yes!), chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped dates, flax seed, dried cranberries, finely chopped hazelnuts
Best Filling (SO good!):
1 brick cream cheese @ room temp, mixed with 3 tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar. Add about 1 tbsp to the middle of each muffin by filling muffins cups ½ way, adding cream filling, then adding the rest of the batter on top.  This option with mini chocolate chips is ridiculously yummy and may lead to excessive muffin consumption.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Grease or line 2, 12 cup muffin pans
Mix dry ingredients (first set)
Mix wet ingredients (second set)
Gently wet wet into dry until just mixed (not overly, there should be some dry still seen). Stir in add-ins, or leave as is.
Scoop into muffins tins(see note about filling the cream cheese)
Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on oven and altitude) or until the tops are totally set and spongy.
Let rest for about 5 minutes before removing from pans.
Freeze before they all disappear!

Dea’s Pumpkin Pancakes

 1 cup quick oats
½ cup whole wheat flour

½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

1 egg
1 ½ cups milk (any fat level, or coconut milk)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ -2 cups pumpkin puree (more puree makes a moister pancake, so it depends on taste. Less is nice when cooking for a crowd as they’ll hold up a bit better)

oil for the pan
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients ( including sugar)
Pour wet into dry, mix, let rest for a few3 minutes.
Pour into hot oiled pan by about ¼ cup scoops. Be sure to quickly spread them out with the spoon as the batter is fairly thick. Cook until entire surface has tiny bubbles, flip, cook through (be careful not to undercook).
Serve with butter, maple syrup, whipped cream, yogurt, toasted nuts and seeds. Oh, and bacon 😉

3 Responses to “The Great Pumpkin”
  1. Kmarie says:

    Can you just live with me and be my cook? I know I will never do this…
    But I could pay you to:)
    Tee hee.
    But I am serious…
    Sounds yummy.

  2. Alicia says:

    Oh I’m inspired, thank you! They sound like a family treat & a perfect addition to try for our home weekend brunch.

    • Dea' says:

      Aw, yay!
      Note: the pancakes aren’t the usually ‘soft & fluffy’. They’ve definitly got a more oatmealy texture to them (which J and I like, but might we weird to others). Then again, this morning I subbed in all oat flour and they were crazy ugly! Tasty, but terrible looking! 😉
      And, I think I might edit the muffins a bit aafter baking more yesterday (this is what I get for posting a one-time recipe!). I think its 3 1/2 cups flour (instead of 3), and 5 eggs instead of 4 (or 4 plus 1/4 cup of water).
      Food. Always an adventure! (hm, I should post this in an entry for others…. Anyways. Good luck!)

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