Tag Archives: pumpkin

It’s Autumntime!

It’s autumn or fall or that beautiful period where the weather is generally delightful between the heat of summer and the frost of winter. Leaves are changing colors. It’s my favorite season.

However, I feel like the world gets overtaken by pumpkin EVERYTHING. There are lots of great fall flavors besides pumpkin. Here are just some of the fruits and vegetables in season right now:

Acorn Squash
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Butternut Squash
Cauliflower
Cranberries
Delicata Squash
Endive
Garlic
Ginger
Grapes
Jalapeños
Mushrooms
Pears
Pineapples
Pomegranate
Radicchio
Sweet Potato
Swiss Chard
Turnips

Here are some of my favorite fall recipes:

Spaghetti with Greens and Garlic
Apple Pancakes
Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie
Spaghetti Squash with Marinara
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
Pumpkin Dinner
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Sweet Potato Pancakes
White Chicken Chili
Veggie Sweet Potato Chili

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Fresh versus Canned Pumpkin

Over the last few years, I’ve met several people who SWEAR by fresh pumpkin. They tell me I should never use canned pumpkin because you can really tell the difference between fresh roasted pumpkin and canned pumpkin. Well, this year, I decided to test it out.

First, I used a “pie pumpkin”. This is a much smaller pumpkin. Prior to roasting it, I used it as a table centerpiece. I have heard mixed responses in person and online as to whether you have to use a pie pumpkin or can just use a regular jack-o-latern pumpkin. From my experiences with my baked pumpkin dinner, I think you’d be safer using a pie pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins sometimes have smooth, creamy interiors and sometimes are more stringy like a spaghetti squash. You wouldn’t want the stringy texture.

Here is a comparison of the purees. I roasted my pie pumpkin at 400 for about 45 minutes-1 hour, until it was fork tender. (I cut it in half and seeded it first). Fresh is on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Puree

You can see the canned is a much deeper orange color. And a slightly more watery, smoother texture. I could have added some water to mine to puree it to a similar consistency. I didn’t think it was necessary.

Here is the cookie dough. This is flipped from above – canned on the right, fresh on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookie Dough

This one is harder to tell a difference. The dough is a bit darker with the canned, but not too much. The doughs mixed up and baked pretty much the same.

And of course, the final product. Back to fresh on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookies

Any difference you see is in the lighting. There was not visible difference in the two cookies.

Taste? Well, I tried out both cookies on 18 people, not telling them what the difference was, asking if they had a preference. Most said they really couldn’t taste much of a difference. If they HAD to choose, maybe they liked canned better (although they didn’t know it was the canned one).

So my verdict: I’ll be buying canned pumpkin. To me, there wasn’t a big enough difference to justify the work and money of making my own.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

I waxed so philosophical about hating recipes that only use part of a can of pumpkin. Yet, I frequently find myself making them anyway. Oops. But I’m getting more creative in ways to use up the extra pumpkin.

Pumpkin in oatmeal seems like a logical choice. You already put in brown sugar and cinnamon, which go great with pumpkin. Plus you are now putting vegetables in breakfast. That is always a win. Super fast breakfast that is good for you and delicious. Major win this time of year!

Pumpkin Oatmeal (Serves 3-4)

Pumpkin Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
¾ – 1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups skim milk
2 cups water
cinnamon to taste (I use about ½ teaspoon)
¼-⅓ cup brown sugar

1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-7 minutes, per package instructions for your oats. Stir frequently.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 285
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 56 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 62 mg

Recipe notes: This is a very flexible recipe. Use more or less pumpkin, per your taste. You could use all milk, all water, etc. As for the sugar, I usually add about ¼ cup sugar to my regular oatmeal. I found the pumpkin had a strong taste that needed a little more sugar. You might start with ¼ cup, then add teaspoons in individual bowls for each person’s taste.

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Pumpkin French Toast

I know I complained about all the pumpkin recipes on the internet a couple weeks ago. And I still stand by my statement that the food world should not revolve around pumpkin in the fall, even though it does. Most of them call for only part of a can of pumpkin, which is high on my list of pet peeves. If I’m opening something perishable, I better use all of it. And at the end, I often find myself saying, “This item isn’t better because of the pumpkin.” Pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin cheesecake brownie, pumpkin snickerdoodels…meh.

Breakfast food (minus the cinnamon rolls) is the one area I make an exception for. We ate this French toast before heading out the door to a fall festival last weekend, and it totally started our day off on the right foot. Super easy and super delicious. I know it only calls for a partial can of pumpkin, which I do hate. But this is the perfect way to use up remainder pumpkin from other recipes.

Pumpkin French Toast (Makes about 13 slices)

Pumpkin French Toast

3 large eggs
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
13 slices thick-sliced whole wheat bread

1. Preheat griddle or skillet to medium to medium-high heat.

2. Combine all ingredients except bread in a shallow dish.

3. Spray griddle with cooking spray. Dip bread in mixture until lightly coated on each side, scraping off any excess. Cook on griddle for 3-4 minutes per side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information (Amount per slice):

Calories: 130
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than .5 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 192 mg

Recipe Notes: I used whole wheat French bread for most of mine. I didn’t have quite enough, so I used sandwich bread as well. I liked the thicker bread better, but all of it was delicious and got eaten. I served this with buttermilk syrup, which made it an extra special treat.

Source: Slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake

This recipe isn’t healthy. Thank you for indulging me. I find myself missing my mother a lot this Christmas, and she instilled a love of cheesecake in me. I have a lot of fond memories of eating little wedges of half frozen Sarah Lee cheesecake with her while watching a cheesy chick flick.

I haven’t even attempted to make this more healthy than the original. Cheesecake is one of those foods I don’t mess with. The good news is that this is pretty rich, so it is slightly easier to eat in moderation.

Happy Holidays!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake

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Crust:
1 ¾ cup gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup pecans or walnuts

Filling:
3 (8 ounce) blocks cream cheese
¾ cup pumpkin puree
6 ounces melted white chocolate (1 cup chips)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger

Mousse:
1 cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of foil, securely wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan.

2. Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then crush pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.

3. To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside.

4. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs). Pour mixture on top of the crust.

5. Place cheesecake pan in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into cake pan on the lower shelf until you have about 1-2 inches of water. Shut oven door.

6. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. Let cool for approximately 30 minutes in oven with oven off. Remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. This is a soft cheesecake, so don’t be alarmed.

7. Once cheesecake is cooled, in a medium bowl, beat the cream and vanilla with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until combined and the peaks are slightly stiffer. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the white chocolate and mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream, taking care not to deflate the whipped cream, and mix gently with a rubber spatula, lifting and turning the cream, until the mousse is combined and creamy.

8. Spread the white chocolate topping on top of the cooled cheesecake. Cool with topping for at least an additional 1-2 hours.

Recipe Notes: None of us want to know the nutrition on this bad boy. It’s Christmas.

Source: Our Best Bites for cheesecake and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for mousse, no adaptation

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Pumpkin Pancakes

This blog has turned orange lately.  Most of my recent recipe posts have somehow involved sweet potato and pumpkin.  While it seems repetitive, there are so many delicious uses for these seasonal veggies that are extra delicious and extra affordable right now.  Why not eat up?

I first tried these pumpkin pancakes out on my niece and nephews.  I was babysitting them for several days in a row.  One night a few days in, we were ALL missing their mom and dad.  These pancakes for dinner helped us all find a happier place.  And then I proceeded to make them over and over for my own family when I got home.  They are very simple and definitely take pancakes up several notches.  Drop by my house on Thanksgiving morning, and you’ll find these on the breakfast table.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes (Makes about 14 pancakes)

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1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups skim milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine pumpkin, milk, oil, egg, and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

3. Spoon/pour about ¼ cup at a time on a lightly greased griddle over medium heat. Cook until golden brown on each side. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Pancake):

Calories: 94
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: less than .5 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 69 mg

Recipe Notes: I encourage you to actually mix wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls and then combine. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I generally measure the dry ingredients straight into the wet. I hate the thought of pancakes taking more than one bowl. And they turn out just fine. BUT, I do think I then have to mix the batter a little bit more. Just keeping it real. This is a bit wetter than regular pancake batter, so they take a little longer to cook. The end result is more moist than traditional pancakes, and it may seem like you undercooked them. I would estimate you cook the first side about twice as long as a regular pancake before flipping.

Also, if you hate only using part of a can of pumpkin, you do 1.5 times everything using a whole can of pumpkin, which leads to some odd amounts. Here is what I did:

1 can pumpkin
1 ⅞ cups skim milk (go about halfway between the 1 ¾ and 2 cup marks on the measuring cup)
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs
¼ cup brown sugar (slightly heaping)
1 ⅞ cups white whole wheat flour (measure out 2 cups and then take out 2 tablespoons)
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Source: slightly adapted from online

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Pumpkin Dinner

If you are planning a Halloween dinner or just want to impress your family, look no further.

During my freshman year of college, my roommates and I needed to make dinner for a big group date we were planning.  One of my roommates raved about this pumpkin dinner her family would make.  It was early November, so pumpkin food sounded seasonal and fun.  I enjoyed the meal well enough, but other than the visual “wow” factor, I wasn’t impressed with the food itself.

Despite the lack of flavor appeal, that meal stuck with me.  I’ve made it around Halloween a few times.  Each time, I’ve tried to improve the ingredients so the taste matches the visual impression.  I think this recipe gets it right.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Dinner (Serves 8-10)

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1 small(ish) pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 pound lean ground turkey (85/15 or better)
⅓ cup unpacked brown sugar
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1 cup low sodium beef broth
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cans sliced water chestnuts, drained well
2 cups cooked brown rice

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Remove 1 rack from oven and move remaining rack to lowest setting.

2. Cut large opening in top of pumpkin, retaining “lid”. Clean out seeds and strings. Place cleaned pumpkin on large baking sheet.

3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot, add onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms are slightly browned and tender. Add in turkey. Cook until browned.

4. Stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, soup, broth, pepper, sage, cranberries, and zucchini. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in water chestnuts and rice.

5. Spoon mixture into cleaned pumpkin. Bake for at least 1 hour, until pumpkin is tender and interior scoops out easily with a spoon. As serving, make sure to scoop sides of pumpkin with filling.

Nutritional Information: (Amount per Serving)

Calories: 292
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 39 mg
Carbohydrates: 41 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 571 mg

Recipe Notes: Make sure to get a pumpkin that will fit inside your oven. This can be harder than you initially think, since most smaller pumpkins are tall. Err on the side of a short fat pumpkin. If you don’t want to mess with a pumpkin, this would be yummy filling for putting in halved acorn squash, although I would leave out the broth. Bake for about an hour as well, but cover for the first 45 minutes with foil. I have used about a cup of frozen peas instead of zucchini. Either is yummy. The pumpkin may sag a bit while baking, and the lid may fall in. That’s ok, but it is done if that is happening.

Recipe source: Adapted from my friend’s family recipe

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