Pumpkin: A Taste of Fall

Pumpkin takes center stage in these four seasonal recipes.

Taking pictures at a pumpkin patch is No. 1 on many parents’ fall bucket lists. And it’s no wonder.

Is there anything cuter than a toddler balancing on a pile of pumpkins? Or a baby propped up next to a pumpkin bigger than she is? And it’s not just the babies. I love watching kids and teens laughing (or rolling their eyes) while mom and dad pose them in their outfits picked to coordinate with the pumpkins and gourds.

I haven’t missed a trip to the pumpkin patch in eight years – since my kids were born. It’s not only a fun tradition, but it marks the changing season.

Celebrating each season is one of the joys of childhood. Making each season special creates tradition and bonding that your kids will remember forever.

In my family, we celebrate the season with special outings and trips, but mostly, we celebrate with food. At the first hint of fall, I’m making pumpkin bread, three-bean chili, beef stew and apple cake – to name a few.

Of all the recipes we make in fall, it’s the pumpkin recipes that are most closely tied to the season.

This batter can be used to make muffins or mini loaves, just be sure to adapt the cooking times.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two large (9- by 5-inch) loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another large bowl, blend together pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, water, eggs and vanilla until well incorporated. Slowly add in flour mixture, mixing until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

I pull out this recipe, given to me by a friend, every October. My kids like it on English muffins or biscuits for breakfast.

Pumpkin Apple Butter

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add all ingredients, stirring until blended. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, then simmer uncovered about 45 minutes or until mixture is thick and creamy. Cool and store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated up to two weeks.

 

This Epicurious recipe is a hit with kids. Chop into small pieces for toddlers.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

  • 1 pound whole-wheat short pasta (such as penne, rigatoni, fusilli or shells)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, bring cream to a simmer in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin purée; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add pasta and 1 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid to skillet and cook, tossing to coat, until sauce has reduced, 3–4 minutes. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with freshly ground pepper before serving.

 

Save your pumpkin seeds for this tasty little snack.

Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix butter, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl.

Place pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Pour butter mixture over seeds, then toss to coat. Spread coated seeds in a single layer onto a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until seeds are lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven; sprinkle sugar over seeds and stir until evenly coated.

How to Roast a Pumpkin

Most of the time, I use canned, pureed pumpkin. It’s easy and good for making pumpkin pie, bread and muffins. But fresh, roasted pumpkin has a great flavor that’s sometimes worth the trouble. It’s also a good project for kids to see how a pumpkin goes from a big, orange vegetable to a smooth puree.

Here’s how to roast a pumpkin in six steps.

1. Choose a small pie pumpkin. Big carving pumpkins aren’t what you want here. Look for 2- to 3-pound pumpkins. You’ll want to roast just one or two at a time. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice off the stem. Then, place the pumpkin on a sturdy cutting board, and cut the pumpkin in half using a sharp knife.

3. Using a big spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop out the guts and seeds. You can rinse and save those seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds later – yum.

4. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Brush the inside of the pumpkin with olive oil, and place face down on the baking sheet.

5. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees. If your pumpkins are smaller than 2 pounds, this will take less time. If they’re closer to 3 pounds, it may take more time. You should be able to easily pierce the skin with a fork when the pumpkin is done.

6. Remove from oven, and cool for about 10 minutes. Using a large spoon, peel away the skin. It should come off very easily. Use the roasted pumpkin for pie, risotto, soup, cookies or your favorite pumpkin recipe. If making a puree, place pumpkin in a blender, and blend for about 2 minutes until totally smooth with no clumps.


Categories: Food