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How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin

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Welcome, October! Quite possibly my favorite month of the year. Well, maybe except for December.

Because December means Christmas. And Christmas makes me burst with happiness.

But October means beautiful changing leaves, my birthday, Halloween candy, warm sweaters, soft hoodies, and pumpkins; lots and lots of pumpkins!

As I write, there are a few pumpkins roasting in the oven, making my home smell like autumn. I’m working on a new pumpkin recipe today. Think fresh, roasted pumpkin with rich cream, and perhaps a touch of caramel. Oh, and it’s not a dessert! Look for it later this week.

In the mean time, I thought you may want to brush up on your procedure for preparing fresh pumpkin puree by taking a look back at my no-fuss step-by-step guide. Click HERE to begin your pumpkin journey.

You may also want to check out these delicious pumpkin recipes:

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Autumn Harvest Buns

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

Fettucine with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce 

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Yesterday, we hacked our way into a pumpkin to prepare fresh pumpkin puree, with the promise of a fresh pumpkin coconut pie. Today, we eat pie. This is my mom’s recipe for fresh pumpkin pie. It is the pumpkin pie I grew up with. It is the pumpkin pie to which I compare all other pumpkin pies. That’s just how things are when you’ve grown up with them, sort of how I’m a loyal Crest toothpaste girl and shiver at the thought of any mayonnaise other than Hellman’s.

To me, this is pumpkin pie the way is should be. It’s light, fresh, and sweet. My mom always uses fresh pumpkin, but I wouldn’t fault you for substituting canned. It will still be quite delicious. The recipe works well with or without the coconut. I’m a coconut girl, through and through. It gives the pie a sort of half pumpkin, half coconut custard sort of feel. Spectacular!

And now, the pumpkin pie recipe you’ve been waiting for…

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Pumpkin Puree (fresh or canned)*
  • 1 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (1 12-ounce can)
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar**
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Shredded, Sweetened Coconut (optional)
  • 1 9″ Deep-Dish Pie Shell (homemade or frozen)

* Click here for my photo guide on preparing fresh pumpkin puree.

**My mom’s recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, which produces an extremely sweet pie. I cut the white sugar to 1/2 cup, which still produces a deliciously sweetened pie.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Stir in the coconut, if desired. Place the pie shell on a foil lined baking sheet, to prevent oven spill-over. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.*  Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower the heat to 350 degrees. Continue cooking for 45-55 minutes, until the tip of a knife, inserted about an inch from the edge, comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool for about an hour. Then refrigerate to completely cool. Serve with whipped cream.

*You will probably have some leftover filling. Use it in individual pie shells to make mini pies or simply pour it in a ramekin or small baking dish and bake, for a little crustless pie.

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin Puree

When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, does it get any more classic than pumpkin pie?? Pumpkin is the bright orange star of autumn produce. They play a leading role in Halloween celebrations and an even tastier role at Thanksgiving. As far as I’m concerned, serve whatever other desserts you’d like on Thanksgiving, as long as there’s at least one pumpkin pie. So, in honor of our Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom, we’ll be making a pumpkin pie, using my mom’s tasty recipe for Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie.

Like many families, we purchased several pumpkins to adorn our front steps throughout October. They lasted out there for a month, until one afternoon, we opened the door to find the remnants of what used to be the Frankenstein pumpkin. We were all a bit flummoxed upon finding the remains. The boys were devastated. What horrific event could have caused the brutal destruction of our little pumpkin; so thoroughly ravaged on our front steps. We all felt a bit violated. But, my husband dutifully cleaned up the remains and we did our best to put the past behind us. And then, the very next day, the vicious pumpkin villian returned.

Let’s just call him Squirrely. Squirrely stood there on our front steps, staring at me with his beady little eyes, looking all cute with his fluffy tail. And then he strutted himself over to the next largest pumpkin, and shamelessly went to work. So strong was his passion for pumpkin, that he worked diligently at his task for at least an hour, as we all stood staring in awe. Squirrely was clearly a master of pumpkin. To his credit, he waited a month before devouring our decor.

Clearly, I wouldn’t be using any of those pumpkins to make my pumpkin pie. Luckily, our grocery store is well-stocked with pumpkins. For the purpose of making pumpkin puree for pies or other pumpkin desserts, your best bet is to pick up a Pie Pumpkin or Sugar Pumpkin. They are smaller and will produce a less watery, more flavorful result. When my mom prepares the pumpkin for her pies, she typically prepares the puree in a similar fashion to mashed potatoes. She cuts the pumpkin into chunks, removes the skin, boils, then mashes. It’s a technique which has always worked well for her. However, an easier alternative to chopping a hard pumpkin into pieces and removing all of the skin is to roast the pumpkins. Once roasted, the tender insides will scoop out with ease. Here is a step by step guide on how to prepare fresh pumpkin puree by roasting.

1. Thoroughly rinse the pumpkins.

2. Ideally, cut the pumpkins in half, from the stem to the base. However, if you happened to purchase the world’s hardest pumpkins or perhaps left your pumpkins in the freezing car overnight, you may have to settle for simply sawing and prying off the top. After trying every one of my very sharp knives on my stubborn pumpkins, I considered inviting Squirrely inside to help. (He clearly knows how to get inside a pumpkin.) Seriously, a hacksaw wouldn’t have cut through my pumpkins. But, eventually I managed to wrestle the tops off. Don’t worry, if you can not manage to cut your pumpkins in half, rest assured that the  pumpkins will roast just as well with only the tops removed.

3. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove all of the seeds and stringy parts from the pumpkin. Save the seeds for roasting.

4. Place the pumpkin upside down on a baking sheet (cut sides down, if you were able to cut your pumpkin in half). Fill the bottom of the baking sheet with a thin (1/4 inch) layer of water.

5. Roast at 375 degrees for about 90 minutes. Test by inserting a fork into the inside of the pumpkin. It should be quite tender. Allow to cool.

6. Scoop out the tender insides.

7. Use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

** Two small Pie Pumpkins should produce about 3-4 cups pumpkin puree.

If you’re preparing fresh pumpkin puree, be sure to roast the seeds separately for a tasty snack. I seriously ate so many pumpkin seeds yesterday that I’m beginning to suspect I may be sprouting a pumpkin in my belly. They are a delicious and highly nutritious snack.

To roast the pumpkin seeds: Rinse the seeds and separate from the stringy pumpkin pieces. Discard the stringy pieces. Lay the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a paper towel to dry. Spread the seeds onto a baking sheet. Toss with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake in a 375 degrees oven for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for the recipe for Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie, coming up next!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

The kids and I cook together quite a bit. In fact, I can’t enter the kitchen these days without my three year old on my toes, shouting, I want to help! I want to help! As you may imagine, the more we cook together, the more smoothly our cooking adventures tend to go. The boys understand the lay of the land in the kitchen. Mostly. Wildly running their hands through a floured table is still irresistible to them. But, for the most part, our cooking moves along smoothly. They mix, they measure, they stir, they smell, they taste. We move along like a well-oiled kitchen brigade. Until I handed my three year old a ramekin of eggs, mistakenly assuming that he’d pour them into the mixing bowl, as he’d poured in the oil and water. Rather, he inserted his hands into the dish of raw eggs and attempted to pick one up. I’ve never seen such an adorably puzzled reaction. I guess we’ve still got a few things to work on.

This recipe is a little unplanned extra for the week. I ended up with a bunch of leftover pumpkin puree, which would have been a pity to waste. So, I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for pumpkin inspiration. Then, after passing a loaf of pumpkin bread in the grocery store, it occurred to me that I could use my leftover pumpkin in exactly the same way I use my leftover, over-ripe bananas! I went straight to my favorite banana bread recipe and made a few tiny adjustments; a little extra sugar to account for pumpkin not being as naturally sweet as bananas, a little extra cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. Adding chocolate was a no-brainer for me. The resulting bread is sweet, delicious, and seasonly perfect.

We’ll be making this recipe again next week, in muffin form, for my little guy’s nursery school Halloween party! To make as muffins, follow the same recipe, but reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

Adapted from my recipe for Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 cup Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and lightly flouring the bottom and sides. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Fettucine with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

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Here in Syracuse, fall has definitely arrived. The trees are peppered with red, orange, and yellow and the leaves have begun their graceful journey to the earth. The crisp air has the rich smell of autumn, the kids are rejoicing in their collection of hoodies, and pumpkins are ripe for picking.

This past weekend, we took the kids to a great little place called, The Hollow, where every year we enjoy pumpkin picking and assorted fall festivities. There’s a small petting zoo (with a strange animal we dubbed a puppy-cow), a giant ‘sandbox’ full of dried corn kernels, small ride-on tractors, and piping hot, fresh apple fritters. For the first time this year, we even took the kids into the corn maze, which our three year old managed to guide us out of with only one small wrong turn and minimal panic.

Now what?

Then, of course, there are the pumpkins. This year, we finally remembered to bring a wagon so we could carry more than one or two pumpkins back to the car.

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! I love a good pumpkin parfait or a sweet and spicy pumpkin pie, but pumpkin also works beautifully in savory dishes, like my flavorful Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce over Fettucine. Have I got your attention? This recipe is beyond simple and unbelievably delicious. I honestly squealed with delight when the spoon entered my mouth. I start with a basic alfredo sauce of butter, cream, parmesan cheese, and a touch of garlic. Then, I add a generous amount of pumpkin puree to the creamy sauce and stir. Simple as that. The result is pure autumn magic. Seriously, I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

I’d intended to do a photo guide on preparing fresh pumpkin puree to accompany this post, but the day took on a life of its own. Soon, I promise. In the meantime, canned pumpkin puree will work perfectly. Just be sure that pumpkin is the only ingredient.

Fettucine with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano/Parmigiano Reggiano blend, grated
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Salt and Pepper, if desired
  • Chicken, cooked (optional)*
  • Pumpkin Seeds (for garnish)
  • 1 pound Fettucine

*I used chicken tenders, seasoned with salt and pepper, then baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Directions

Cook fettucine according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the cream. Whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cheese and whisk to combine. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and continue cooking for another minute or two. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. (The cheese already adds a good deal of salty flavor, so you may not need any extra salt.) If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little extra cream or even a touch of milk to thin it out.

To serve, spoon some of the hot sauce over cooked fettucine. Top with the warm chicken, pumpkin seeds, and additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfait

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Seems like everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Tis the season. People are drinking their Pumpkin Spice Lattes and proudly announcing it to the world. I’ve even seen people throwing around the acronym, PSL, to describe the country’s current favorite barista-prepared beverage. Come on people! It took me about a year to learn that LOL meant Laugh out loud and not Lots of Laughs, which I somehow got stuck in my head. And I never would have figured out that FTW meant For the Win, if I hadn’t asked someone to explain. Heck, even once I knew that it meant For the Win, I still didn’t exactly understand in what context I was supposed to use it. What does For the Win even mean?? I can’t keep up.

As a teen, I remember mercilessly laughing at my mom who’d recounted her story of going into the music store in search of the INXS cassette on my Christmas list and asking the clerk where she could find the Inks cassettes. Wow, I really dated myself with that last statement, didn’t I?? INXS, cassette tapes, and people actually purchasing music in non-digital form. I still have that cassette. If only I could find a functional walkman to play it in.

Oh, but I am quickly becoming that hopelessly clueless mom. My children will surely be laughing at me by the time they reach second grade, when I’ll be rocking out to Green Day on the oldies station. Lots of Laughs! Somebody slap me upside the head if I ever throw on a pair of mom jeans.

Anyway, back to those PSLs. The talk is contagious. I’ve found myself drooling over the thought of a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’m a Peppermint Mocha kind of gal, but I’m pretty sure that if I were standing in front of a Starbucks barista, I’d involuntarily order a Pumpkin Spice Latte. But, I wasn’t standing in front of a barista this morning. I was at the grocery store. And as I passed the prominently displayed racks of canned pumpkin, I couldn’t help but grab a few.

Canned pumpkin is a product I can stand behind. I’m a big proponent of avoiding unnecessary preservatives, thickeners, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers often found in processed foods. And if it means doing things the long way, I’m ok with that. But, canned pumpkin is a major time and mess saver which doesn’t come with any undesirable extras. The only ingredient is pumpkin; pure and simple. So, go ahead and feel good about using canned pumpkin. By all means, if you’ve got a fresh pumpkin and a bit of extra time, feel free to use that too.

These little parfaits are a quick and delicious solution to a spiced pumpkin craving. They’re made simply with lightly sweetened, spiced pumpkin, layered with fresh whipped cream and crushed gingersnap cookies. Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits…FTW!

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 16 gingersnap cookies

Directions

Crush 12 of the gingersnap cookies. Set aside.

Beat together the pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, and spices until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the heavy cream and sugar until thickened.

To assemble the parfaits, divide half of the pumpkin mixture into four cups. Sprinkle 1/3 of the gingersnap crumbs over the pumpkin. Spoon about half of the whipped cream over the gingersnaps in the four cups. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the gingersnap crumbs. Spoon the remaining pumpkin mixture over the gingersnap crumbs. Sprinkle with the remaining crumbs. Garnish with the remaining whipped cream and a gingersnap cookie.

Serves 4


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