02 October 2010

Happy Pumpkin month!

I hear it is cooling off on the side of the world most of you reading this are on. I hope it's a refreshing new breath of air for you. While you are enjoying the cool coming in and the heat leaving, we are doing the opposite! The rains are leaving and more sunny days are here. I so love the weather here. I just bask in that wonderful SUN. But although we are not there, I have started turning my attention towards fall-ish dinners and some decor. Some, as in very little, as in the kind of decor that you don't buy but eat. Yes, pumpkins. I found some fun recipes to share...

First of all though, if you aren't able to run to your local wal-mart, or whatever grocery store you might shop at in America, then you might want to go grab some pumpkins out of your garden. Oh wait, I didn't do either one of those, so maybe go to your local fruit and veggie market and search out and argue for the right price and get a pumpkin. OR if you are able to buy canned pumpkin but want something more "fresh" and "all natural" and "organic", then you can very easily get a pumpkin and make pumpkin puree out of it. It is so very very easy.

First try and find a pumpkin similar to these...
And if you can only find a big orange one, that's OK, just maybe add some more spices to your recipe otherwise it might be a bit more bland. So the process goes something like this...

1. Slice the pumpkin in half
2. Gut the poor thing (i then like to rinse the seeds and bake them on a sheet sprinkled with olive oil and salt, Elisha likes them too... good treat for a toddler... score!)
3. Put some butter on a baking sheet or pan. Cause butter makes all thing better.
4. Bake on 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour, or less or more, depending on the size of the pumpkin. I hardly, if ever, rarely time my stuff, because I'm just like that. So you can just check on it here and there until its all soft and mushy.
5. Scrape out the mush. Mine was mushy enough to leave as is but if you want you can put it in a blender or use a fork. I just spooned it out.
6. Measure out what you need and put the rest in the freezer for later. I measure out 2 cups to put in ziploc bags and freeze them since most recipes call for 2 cups.
7. Chunk the skins to your dogs. Oh wait, your dogs might not be as crazy as ours to want to eat pumpkin skins. I think ours need to be de-wormed again. They are getting bony.

Now for the recipes...

(I found both of these recipes HERE)
Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup buttermilk (I substituted with regular milk and a teaspoon of vinegar to sour)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, room
2 tablespoons honey
Sugar for sprinkling (I used the raw sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners. In a bowl, toss together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In another mixing bowl, mix with a wooden spoon, the pumpkin puree, sour cream or buttermilk , butter, eggs and honey, until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture just until combined. Transfer to the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle with a little sugar (I used raw sugar) on top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until edges just begin to color. Cool to room temperature. Makes approximately 12-13 muffins.

Black Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (adapted from Sara Lee Kitchens/Chef Jill)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cans of black beans, rinsed
2 jars of roasted red peppers (packed in water), drained
3/4 cups sour cream
3 cups chicken broth (add more if needed to thin)
3 teaspoons oregano
3 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Heat a large, heavy saucepot over medium heat. Add oil and add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Working in batches, blend until smooth in a blender or food processor. Return to pot. Re-heat. Taste soup and adjust seasonings, if necessary. (Side Note: You can use black beans that you have prepared as well- I love the convenience of the canned beans so that is what I used in this recipe!)

And here's my side note on this recipe since I made it last night. I didn't have sour cream so I used heavy plain cream (which came from the fresh milk we started getting everyday, YUMMO). And I didn't have jars of roasted red peppers so I diced up one fresh red bell pepper. I threw in one cube of chicken stock with three cups of water. And I used a can of Mexican peppers in tomatoes with seasoning... it comes from South Africa but i think its very similar to a can of rotel. (oh speaking of south africa, that reminds me of Bella and Jane... bohoohoo! Can you please move back now?! I am having major withdrawals) I also only had equivalent to one can of black beans left over from last week so I also threw in a few cups of left over Mexican rice. SO, that is all a bit of a difference than the recipe but I have found with soup that you just chunk in stuff that all sounds good together and mess with the spices until it taste good, then let it simmer at least 10 minutes, check it again and add more spices if needed. It was SO divine last night. We licked the pot clean. Literally.

I also love LOVE this recipe for Pumpkin Bread. It's off of runnersworld.com. We ate it a lot when training for our half marathon a few years ago. (speaking of, we are currently training for our new 1/2 marathon in December!!!! Yay!) They said it was a good post run snack. My stomach agreed :).
Pumpkin Bread with Mini Chocolate chips

Dry Ingredients
3½ cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1½ cups of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (or I chopped up a bar of baking chocolate for choco chunks)

Wet Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned, plain pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the eggs and stir well. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Coat 2 bread pans evenly with cooking spray. Pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Anyone have fun fall recipes to share?! Or at least a link???


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