Well, its that time of year again: fall! Which just happens to be both the best and worst time of year for cooking. If you’re like me, I’ll bet you can’t wait for fall for the love of pumpkin, but with that comes the slew of bad pumpkin teas, coffees, bread — and who can forget pumpkin pie.
This is the time of year when everyone and their mom brings out that tired pumpkin pie recipe and makes you try it because, and I quote, “It’s a recipe that has been handed down in my family for generations.” I would like to stop this trend and put my own in its place: using the whole pumpkin with not a pumpkin pie recipe in sight.
Pumpkin in the Morning
To start, I thought I would give you one of my favorite not-so-pumpkin pumpkin muffin recipes. Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins are easy to make and will win over both pumpkin lovers and non-pumpkin enthusiasts alike. This recipe is reminiscent of a bed & breakfast in New England on a lovely October morning. The muffins should turn out moist and fluffy.
I would make a few suggestions for this recipe. One, if you are looking to cut out some fat you can add extra pumpkin and substitute applesauce for the oil; it makes them both low fat and still delicious. I would also suggest experimenting with both white sugar and brown sugar. You can substitute brown sugar for all the white sugar or you can do a half and half combination. I am partial to the half and half, but I would try both before making a decision as to which to pick.
Pumpkin in the Evening
Okay, so let’s move away from the breakfast category and onto lunch/dinner. One of my all-time favorite recipes is Pumpkin Chili served over rice.
I love all the things in this recipe, but to give it that true chili consistency and pumpkin flavor I found that you have to at the very least double the amount of pumpkin puree that you use. The recipe calls for one 15-ounce can; I always use two cans. I have found that doubling the amount of pumpkin pie spice and chili powder is also a must. I am a fan of big flavors and a lot of spice, so as with all things in cooking start with the recipe as a base and then add flavor appropriately for your purposes.
The best thing about this chili is that it can be made in a slower cooker, so you don’t even have to worry about it through the day. You can just come home to a house filled with the smell of a home-cooked meal and the lovely scent of pumpkin; it’s one of the best things in life.
Sticking with the theme of using the whole pumpkin, I have a recipe for you which is going to make all of your friends and family jealous. There is no better or more filling way to use the whole pumpkin that I can think of than cooking Pumpkin Stew in a real pumpkin.
I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com, and it makes a pretty good amount of stew.
So let me give you a few helpful hints before you get started with this one. First, you are going to want to leave yourself plenty of time before you embark on this wonderful culinary adventure. There is a good amount of prep that goes into making this stew and an even longer cook time. However, if you are looking for something to spice up your holiday parties — maybe something a little out there for your next Halloween gathering — this is the recipe for you. Trust me, it is well worth the time that it takes.
This recipe is also a little bland, so I would add an additional green bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper instead of ½ teaspoon, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. My last tip is to not fill the pumpkin all the way when you are baking it, because the natural juice from the pumpkin will take up the room you leave. Secondly, you don’t want the pumpkin to crack when you are baking it, so you will want to check it to catch it if is starts coming apart in any way. Once it is soft, take it out and serve; your guests are sure to be impressed!
Pumpkin in the Afternoon
Something simple that never seems to fail me when using the whole pumpkin is Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. I love making pumpkin seeds, because I feel like I am not wasting them. When you are done carving a pumpkin they are a great snack to have while settling down for your favorite scary movie.
I love this recipe, but I do have a few things I changed about it. One, double everything in the recipe except the Worcestershire sauce for two to two and a half cups of pumpkin seeds. A trick for getting the pumpkin remnants off of the seeds is to boil them in salt water for about 10 minutes. This will separate the slime from the seeds very nicely. If you choose to do this, cut the salt from the recipe, otherwise the pumpkin seeds will be too salty.
You are also going to want to make sure that the seeds are fully dry before you roast them, whether or not you decide to boil them. Let them sit out overnight on a baking sheet covered in tin foil. When you get up, take them off the sheet, replace the tin foil, and let them finish drying. When this is done, follow the recipe with my little hints and it will work out great for you.
One more thing: Watch the seeds closely when you are baking them, otherwise your whole house will smell like burnt popcorn. Not the scent that you are going for.
To end our recipe roundup, I would like to replace your pumpkin pie recipe with these Iced Pumpkin Cookies. I am well aware of the fact that cookies are not the same as pie, but you will never get a complaint with these cookies on hand. I have people who ask me year round to make this recipe, and I was even requested by a close friend to make them for her wedding. That is how good these cookies are.
I would suggest that you use 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour and forget the all-purpose flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda. My cookies remain dense and moist because I use self-rising flour. I also use a cup of dark chocolate or milk chocolate chips. (I prefer the dark chocolate chips but the milk work just as well.)
If you do not have time to make the glaze, that is fine because the cookies taste great without it, but if you have the time I would strongly suggest making it. Really, if you are going to try any of these recipes I would insist that it be this one; you won’t regret it.
So, have some fun in your kitchen and don’t forget that you can and should use the whole pumpkin. Happy harvest season, everyone!
Photo credits: mccun934, sophistechate, blurdom, jaxzin, and smadden.