Pumpkin!



A new blog entry in my series on what to do with ingredients in your CSA box. In my recent share, I was excited to see a pie pumpkin! While it may be easy to just think about carving these pumpkins, they are really for eating. They are sweet and have great pumpkin flavor. The inside cooks up creamy and not stringy or watery.


I started using pie pumpkins a few years ago when I started seeing more flavored canned pumpkin pie filling in grocery stores. I was concerned stores might move to these "convenience" versions and thought it would be good to learn how to make my own puree so I can control the salt and other flavorings based on what I make.


I've cooked with butternut squash and other squashes but I felt more intimidated by the pumpkin for some reason. I don't really like pumpkin (I've made a ton of pumpkin pies and never had a bite of one!) and not really knowing if I am getting the best out of the puree might be why. As you get your first one, you'll find it can be a bit large and looks kind of hard to cut. Once you make your own fresh puree, you'll never go back!


All it takes to make your own puree is to cut the squash in half, give it a little salt, then roast it for about 30-40 minutes. The bright orange flesh just scoops right out and you can put it through the food processor or blender to smooth. Easy, right?


Once you have your puree ready, you can use it just like you would the canned stuff. I do like to let the puree completely cool before using in pies or other deserts.


Helpful Note: 15 oz of the canned puree or pie filling is equal to 1 3/4 cup of your homemade puree. And, a 2 1/2 pound pumpkin makes around 1 3/4 cup puree.


I've included below a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Bars. This velvety cake and cream cheese frosting is wonderful combination for fall. This is my mom's recipe that I've made a couple of tweaks to. You can make the recipe as is or you can adjust these to be cupcakes (my favorite!).




Enjoy a bit of fall!


Pumpkin Puree


1 pie or sugar pumpkin (a 2 1/2 pound pumpkin makes about 1 3/4 cups puree)

salt to taste


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.


Slice a small piece of skin off the one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling. Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and fiber with a large metal spoon. Reserve seeds for another use.


Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a half sheet pan. Roast until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes.


Remove the half sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the flesh is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.


Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.


Pumpkin Bars


Cake:

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (or canola)

1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda


Frosting:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

8 oz cream cheese softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened

1 tsp vanilla


Whisk together sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Spread in 11 x 15 greased pan or divide among two cupcake pans. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes.


Let cupcakes cool on a rack while you make the frosting. Whip the cream cheese until light in texture. Add butter and mix until creamy. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and continue mixing until incorporated and fluffy like frosting.


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