Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pumpkin Crepes w/ Maple Butter Sauce

This recipe came from an old blog that doesn't seem to be active anymore, but has a lot of pumpkin recipes. One of the things I like about it is that it contains pumpkin in the crepe batter, in the filling and in the syrup. It's like a triple play. I have a non-stick crepe pan, but mine still weren't very pretty. There is definitely an art to making crepes. And while the Hub is standing at the stove, it is only for show, I actually made them. It's not a spur of the moment kind of recipe, but all the parts can be made in advance and then heated up before serving for an elegant brunch, breakfast or dessert. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Pumpkin-Pasta Bake

I forgot to take a picture of this great pasta dish from Libby's, so this picture is from their website. But mine looked pretty much the same. It makes a lot, enough for us for several meals and several lunches. The can of pumpkin is undetectable in the tomato sauce, but is a super boost to the nutrition and fiber content. I am again impressed by the work Libby's puts into their recipes.
Easy Pumpkin-Pasta Bake

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Iced Tea

This recipe is supposed to have come from the tasting notes section of Blackberry Farms' blog. I don't know maybe it's me, but the recipe seems to have some parts missing. For example, why do you mix it in a plastic pitcher and then cook it on the stove. Why not just mix it in the pan? The end product is really very good, and so good for you. But it's also a lot of work. There is no way you can strain three cups of pumpkin puree mixed with two cups of water through anything. I added all the water and still felt like I needed to put it in a pillowcase and squeeze the liquid out. Luckily I was doing something else at the time and could pour some in the strainer, come back later and empty out the solids and put some more in. It took a good hour or more to strain it. I saved the solids to add to oatmeal in the morning. My tea looks a lot like their picture, so I think the results are comparable, but there has to be an easier way to do it. I need to find it because I drink a lot of iced tea and really like this.

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Pumpkin Spice Iced Tea

3 cups pumpkin puree
One cinnamon stick
Five whole cloves
1½ cups of sugar
2 cups of hot water
6 cups of cold water

In plastic pitcher combine sugar, hot water, cinnamon, cloves and the pumpkin. Cook on top of a stove top for 30 minutes. Then pour all ingredients through a strainer.  Add cold water. Serve over ice and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spicy Pumpkin Meatloaf

This recipe came from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. It gave a basic recipe for Spanish-style meatloaf and then four variations. I'm not sure why it's called Spanish-style - this is pretty much the way Americans make meatloaf too. It may have to do with the potatoes in the original recipe, which is not a normal American ingredient. I used ground turkey and replaced the butternut squash with pumpkin. I made it one evening and the Hub heated it up for dinner the next night - there was also some leftover for lunches. We all liked this, even Andrew who is not a big meatloaf fan. The red pepper flakes spice up the bland turkey and the vegetables and bacon all add to the flavor.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

This cookie recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The recipe makes 60 to 100 cookies, depending on the size you like them. I gave Andrew a large plate to take to the Easter dinner he was going to and was still flagging neighbors down on the street to offload cookies. I will definitely half the recipe next time I make them. The cookies are mildly spiced miniature pumpkin cakes and the frosting is an interesting take on buttercream with the addition of brown sugar. They were heavenly the first day, but storage is problematic. Because of the moisture in pumpkin, they aren't good candidates for air-tight containers, but leaving them unwrapped on the counter caused them to go stale quickly and also caused the Hub and I to eat one every time we walked by. My recommendation would be to make them the day you plan to use them and only make the amount you need.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pumpkin Tamales

I have several pumpkin tamale recipes, and had planned on making the two main types. One is a sweet side dish which appears around the holidays. The pumpkin is mixed with masa harina (corn flour), sugar, spices and raisins and steamed in corn husks with no distinct filling. Another version that has many variations contains a simple masa harina "shell" with a savory pumpkin filling. This plan was put on hold because I couldn't find dried corn husks at the three grocery stores I went to. I'm pretty sure people eat tamales all year around in this town so somebody carries them. I did find a tamale kit - husks and corn flour - for 12 tamales, you just add the filling.

There was another grocery store mishap, and the Hub accidentally bought ground pork instead of Mexican chorizo. My filling contained 4oz of ground pork seasoned with some Mexican seasoning in a poor imitation of chorizo, a can of pumpkin puree, spices and some lime juice.

I made these on a Sunday when we were having something else for dinner. Andrew, the Hub and I each had one and thought they were good, but no one was raving about them. I divided the rest up for lunches. On Monday there are usually lots of lunches in the frig to pick from and I was the only one to pick the tamales. They were excellent and I was secretly hoping no one would take the rest so I could have them all week. On Tuesday, the Hub and Andrew had the tamales, too. I had to laugh because both of them called me during the day to say how good the tamales were. A couple of days in the frig seemed to only enhance the flavor.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crockpot Pumpkin Dump Cake

You know, you'd think I'd be better at weeding out loser pumpkin recipes than I am. This one for instance. I knew it wouldn't be very sweet with only 3/4 cup of mixed sugars to a 29 oz can of pumpkin; but, for some reason, I thought the brandy and molasses might make up for it. Also, I don't really get dump cakes in general, how hard is it to mix up a cake mix? - this is much more complicated. You don't really dump anything. But I just loved the idea of baking in a crock pot and coming home to a house that smelled wonderful and dessert already made. And who could resist this? "This crockpot pumpkin dump cake looks and tastes similar to pumpkin cheesecake with less work!" I don't know what white substance she's been inhaling, but it's not cheesecake.

Neither the Hub nor I were impressed with the cake, and we tried it both warm and cold and then dumped the rest in the trash. It was simply not worth the calories. A regular pumpkin dump cake, baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan uses a 15oz can of pumpkin, so that may or may not be a mistake. The pumpkin to cake ratio seemed way off. Anyway save yourself some grief and make a magic pumpkin buckle instead. Same idea, much better results.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pumpkin Pasties

Ok, stop with the jokes, you Americans you, I can already hear it. But, according to my next-cube neighbor Roy, the word is pronounced pass-tees not paste-ees. Apparently pumpkin pasties are a favorite of Harry Potter, but who wouldn't like these little pumpkin pies - perfect with tea - except maybe Roy, who is not a big pumpkin fan. This recipe from the blog Diamonds for Dessert also has a recipe for the more familiar Cornish pasties.

When I first saw these little turnovers, I thought how hard could that be? Wrap some pumpkin puree in pie dough, bake it and call it a day, but the recipe is more developed than that. You bake the pumpkin filling first so it has a pie filling-like consistency and then cook the pasties only until the crust is done - genius. According to Wikipedia, Cornish pasties have been around since the 1500s, so British cooks have had some time to perfect the recipe.

Friday, April 15, 2011

100-Calorie Pumpkin Pie Tartlets

I loved this recipe idea from the Libby's website. You know - portion control, something I'm not really good at. But I must not be alone because everything now comes in 100-calorie packs, why not pumpkin pie too? It recommends whipped topping and gingersnap crumbs on top, but I got really creative with these, sometimes putting it on top of the ginger thin like a small piece of pie or between two ginger thins as a sandwich or spreading it on an English muffin for breakfast. They use egg whites and fat free canned milk to shave off some calories and I never missed them in the taste. The foil muffin cups are a must and they must be refrigerated for a while to get them easily out of the cups.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Hello from sunny Arizona! I am Robin, only daughter (and favorite childJ) of the pumpkin master and the Hub. My family and I have been willing participants in lots of pumpkin cooking my mom has chosen to do during her visits, and my kids have been featured several times as willing testers of Grandma Jo’s pumpkin recipes (generally only limiting their tasting selections to those involving sugar and lots of it!) Today I am excited to share a favorite pumpkin recipe in our house - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. I will preface our recipe with this: it has no redeeming nutritional value, so if you are here for health food… you should probably run along now. That being said, this recipe has been tested and approved by small people in Washington State and Arizona, and received a two-thumbs-up approval from all J

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease whatever pan you are using (more on that later.) In a medium bowl, mix first four ingredients together (flour through salt.) In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients together (eggs through oil.) In small batches, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until fully combined. Add in chocolate chips.

**Chef’s note: I use mini chips instead of full-sized chips, I think they spread more evenly throughout the bread.

Divide between two loaf pans and bake for 60-70 minutes.

**Chef’s note: I prefer to use muffin pans or mini loaf pans for this recipe. I found that baking in a large loaf pan meant that the crust was overdone before the inside was fully cooked. Using the smaller pans allows the inside to bake at the same rate as the outside, resulting in more cake-like edges. My oven cooks the mini loaves in 25 minutes and the muffins in 27 minutes.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Soup

I spent the weekend making several recipes from Libby's pumpkin recipe website. And I have to tell you, I was really impressed. While they do have the typical pumpkin recipes of breads, pies and muffins, they also have some sophisticated recipes like this one that I haven't seen anywhere else. When I was making this soup for lunch on Saturday, I gave it (in my head) exactly no chance in h... of impressing the Hub - it simply wasn't his kind of soup. I didn't say anything, but I wasn't sure I would even like it. It only has a few ingredients and the ones it has aren't exactly head turners - pumpkin, canned milk, water, bouillon, sage (which I replaced with basil, because we didn't have any), pepper and the cheese.

But it was fabulous; we both loved it. Pumpkin is such a mild flavor that you would think the gorgonzola would overwhelm it, but it doesn't. The Hub said it's the kind of soup you'd get in a fancy restaurant before dinner and he couldn't believe how quick I made it. Well, I am pretty fast with a can opener. Literally all I did was dump it in and heat it up.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake

I have to admit I had my doubts about this cake. I felt like the weight of the pumpkin wouldn't allow it to rise like angel food should. And I was partly right. The actual recipe I used didn't have a picture so I was working blind. (The author also acted like she had invented and copyrighted the recipe, when it fact it's all over the web including this link from Betty Crocker.) Where a regular angel food cake rises about eight inches, this one rose five. The texture is more like a sponge cake. I served it for dessert one night when our friends Cindy and Mike Jacobsen were visiting for the weekend. All four of us had a piece and then decided we needed another one. It's really good - light and moist with a hint of pumpkin and spice. Mike sliced it thin and toasted the leftovers (not that there was a lot, we made a big dent in it) for breakfast. I loved the fact that it started with an angel food cake mix, making the whole thing rather easy and almost guaranteeing a good result.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pumpkin and Pineapple Curry

I learned a big lesson with this recipe: pumpkin doesn't freeze very well except as puree. I was suspecting it after it mysteriously disappeared into the chili last week. But this recipe confirms it. It looks good as it thaws, just regular pumpkin, if a bit watery. But add heat for more than a few minutes and don't even think about stirring it or it's gone. Hmmm, I wonder why I never read that in the thousands of pages in books and online that I've read about cooking with pumpkin. On the other hand, no commercial company has made a go at it either. I've never seen frozen pumpkin for sale. However, I just googled it and it is available in Vietnam.

Both of the packages that I've used so far were French reds, so maybe other types will hold up better in the freezer. It sort of puts a damper on some of the ideas that I had for all that frozen pumpkin I've got; I'll just have to be creative. If you're in the states and wondering why I continue to give recipes that call for fresh pumpkin, it's because I have readers in the Southern Hemisphere where it is now pumpkin season. I still see butternut squash in the stores here and they can be easily substituted since lots of my recipes call for squash to begin with and I substitute pumpkin.

On to pumpkin and pineapple curry (which did start life as squash and pineapple) - I really like this stuff. I was the only one who ate it, not because they didn't like it but because I was the only one home. I like the warmth of Thai curry paste, sort of like radiant heat for your mouth. You could add some chicken, but I found it filling by itself over rice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

Oh that Paula Deen - she does have a way with fun, decadent desserts and this pumpkin gooey cake recipe is no different. Of course the photography is good because I was in Arizona when I made them. Even though the recipe reminds you not to over-cook it and quite a few of 1,937 reviewers comment on it too, I think I did. I was unfamiliar with Robin's oven and it just looked too weird (aka not done) at the time it was supposed to come out. It stopped no one from enjoying them. There were nine tasters and everyone like it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Black Bean Chili with Pumpkin at Discovery Creative's Chili Cook-Off

I entered Discovery Creative's 1st annual Chili Cook-Off with this recipe from Bon Appetit and substituting pumpkin for the butternut squash. Since I had never made the recipe before, I had a trial run on Sunday before the Wednesday cook-off, and am really glad I did. We had company for dinner and no one like it. It was way too hot (two diced chipotles in adobo and 1/2 tbsp of chipotle chili powder replacing 1/2 tbsp of regular chili powder) and lacked flavor. It simply didn't smell or taste like chili. The general consensus was to reduce the heat and enhance the flavor with salt and pepper and more chili powder. On Monday I made another batch leaving out all chipotles and adding both onion and garlic salts and regular pepper.

On Monday night we heated up both pots - the new no-heat version and the leftovers from Sunday. Andrew, the Hub and I had small bowls of the new version, then added ladlefuls of the hot stuff until the heat was perfect (three ladlesful). It still lacked something, but we decided to leave it alone in the flavor department since it was an improvement from Sunday at least.

On Tuesday, someone asked me if I toasted my cumin, and like the proverbial light bulb going on - I knew exactly what was missing.

My chili did not win, but I never thought it would. (I didn't vote for it.) It was the only vegetarian one though so it allowed the office herbivores a chance to play especially since some of the carnivores refused to even taste it.

I've never been to a chili cook-off before but I thought this was especially well thought out. Here's the line you went through to read about the chilies and pick up eight cups of chili with their corresponding numbers on the bottom of the cup. After narrowing it down, you could go back for more of your favorites to help you decide.


 And here is the winner, Chris Morrison (first from the left). He deserved to win; his chili was excellent. He roasted the chilies and made his own chili powder, and is working on a second career in competitive cooking.