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After nearly a week without blogging, I think I’m ready to tell you more about ‘Meatfest’. Naturally, the meats were the star of the show, but still, strangely, I felt the need to make dessert as well.

This is really odd for me as I almost never make real, unhealthy, unadulterated desserts. It may have been a sign of nesting and an indication of what was to come. In fact, as I prepared for this feast, my friend Beth commented, ‘Brit, I think you are nesting.’ I denied it, after all, it was far too early, but in retrospect she may have been right.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m glad that I made these cupcakes. They were amazing, so good, in fact, that this typically dessert-free girl is going to attempt a cake version of them later this week.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes
From David Leite via The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup corn starch (or 2 cups cake flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line cupcake pans with 18 cupcake liners.
  • Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer and cream together for about five minutes.
  • While the butter and sugars are mixing, whisk together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Add the eggs, individually, to the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl between eggs.
  • Slowly alternate mixing in dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between.
  • Add pumpkin and blend until smooth.
  • Spoon mixture into the 18 cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool cupcakes on a rack.

Servings ~ 18
Calories ~ 176, Fat ~ 5.9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 33.6 g, Protein ~ 2.3 g

Cream Cheese Frosting
From Loves to Eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  • Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer, beating for about three minutes until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and continue to mix.
  • Slowly add powdered sugar to mixing bowl, occasionally scraping down the sides, until fully combined.

Servings ~ 18
Calories ~ 168, Fat ~ 9.5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 20.3 g, Protein ~ 1.0 g

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After last winter’s love affair with Mac and Cheese with Squash and Peas and my obsession last fall with Pumpkin Ravioli, I knew that I had to try this recipe as soon as possible. It is essentially a hybrid of my two favorite pasta dishes and it did not disappoint.

Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours attempting to cook enough meals to last us for the whole week. It worked out pretty well. As of Thursday morning we still have two portions of food remaining for Thursday night dinner. For a long time, I did a weekly Sunday cooking marathon. I can’t quite remember why I stopped.

It may have come to and end during a phase of grocery list apathy. Cooking everything on Sunday means writing all of the necessary ingredients on the same grocery list in time for weekend grocery shopping. 

Another theory is that I stopped doing it when we joined our CSA. The CSA seemed like a nice idea, but the Wednesday produce pickup did not fit in all that well with our Saturday grocery shopping scheme. It had me going to the grocery store on Wednesdays and Saturdays which was far too often for my taste.

Whatever the case, I may need to revive that ritual so we can have another week mashed potato free.

Adapted from Meet Me on the Corner of Peachtree and Peachtree.

Ingredients:

  • 1 13.25 oz box whole grain pasta
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1.75 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 5 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • heavy-handed sprinkles of salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil
  • dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, dried marjoram

Directions:

  • Cook pasta, drain, then return to pot.
  • Set burner to a low heat, then mix in the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover and let it sit on low heat until the spinach is completely wilted.
  • Add additional milk as needed.

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 264, Fat ~ 5.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 42.3 g, Protein ~ 12.2 g

Had I known that we would love pumpkin butter as much as we do, I would have made a double or even triple batch. The first round of pumpkin butter was decimated within hours.

My favorite pumpkin butter uses so far have been on overnight oats (or the lazy girl’s 1-hour oats) and on toast. I really want to try some on vanilla ice cream, but we lack the self-control necessary to own ice cream for more than like five seconds.

Perhaps I just need to go with take-out ice cream. Sinless Cake Batter ice cream from Cold Stone would be a perfect carrier for pumpkin butter.

Speaking of carrier foods, does anyone else employ carrier foods solely for the purpose of transporting their favorite condiments? We do. Big time. Sometimes you just want ketchup for dinner, so you have to make fries to go with it.

Chris and I are both condiment fiends. We double and triple stock many of our favorites to ensure that we never run out mid-week. I know, right, the world might end if we run out of barbecue sauce.

It wouldn’t even be so bad if the condiment stockpile stopped at barbecue sauce, but we go so far as keeping backup tubes of wasabi and at least two bottles of “island” teriyaki next to our extra 1.03 gallons of ketchup.

Prepared.for.disaster. Whew!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 6 oz no sugar added apple cider
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional: If you like a sweeter pumpkin butter, add an additional 1/4 cup light brown sugar.

Directions:

  • Combine ingredients in a sauce pan.
  • Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Makes about 1 cup.

Servings ~ 8 (2 tbsp) servings
Calories ~ 43, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 13 g, Protein ~ 0 g
Calories (w/extra brown sugar) ~ 69, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 23 g, Protein ~ 0 g

It seemed appropriate to start off Halloween morning with a pumpkin flavored breakfast. I didn’t really anticipate making a pumpkin souffle, but based on the ingredients we had on hand that is what I ended up selecting. About halfway through the cooking process it occurred to me that souffle is sometimes considered a difficult dish to make, but it turned out great! Phew!

On to more important things…

Duke decided that he wanted to be a lion for Halloween, so we obliged and made him a lion costume.

 

After he had his mane on, it was time for tail application…

 

As Duke anxiously waited for trick or treaters, Chris and I decided to get in some practice for Africa. I thought that we should experiment with some different camera settings while photographing moving animals at various distances. Chris was more interested in trying his hand at fending off an attacking lion.


As you can imagine, Duke was quite riled up after playing lion, so someone had to run him until he was tired and calm enough to come back in the house.

I suppose that I should show you my souffle as well…

 

Adapted from Paula Deen.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons yogurt butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup almond milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice (or use 2/3 cup buttermilk)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • Optional Toppings:
    • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
    • Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine 2/3 cup almond milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice and set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons yogurt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar begins to melt.
  • Add the pecans and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Transfer the pecan mixture to a small dish and set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  • Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of yogurt butter.
  • In a large bowl, add egg yolks, almond “buttermilk”, vanilla and melted butter and whisk until blended.
  • Gradually whisk in flour mixture.
  • Stir in the pumpkin purée.
  • Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (I put them in my food processor and used the egg whip blade) and gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture.
  • Gently spoon the batter into a pie plate.
  • Sprinkle the top of the pancake mixture with the pecan mixture.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cut into wedges and serve.
  • Topping ideas: Dust the pancake with confectioners’ sugar and/or maple syrup.

Servings ~ 4
Calories (without toppings) ~ 284, Fat ~ 17 g, Carbohydrates ~ 26 g, Protein ~ 10 g

Sunday morning I was looking for every excuse possible to delay going out for my run. I would say that my efforts were successful because I managed not to run until almost dinner time.

Part of my stalling technique involved cooking an elaborate breakfast of pumpkin pancakes. At first the plan was to top them with Cool Whip because it would be tasty and easy, but halfway through pancake preparation that plan got thrown out the window when I realized that we didn’t have any Cool Whip.

No, I don’t know of anyone at our house who spoons frozen Cool Whip into a bowl and eats it like ice cream. Why do you ask?

It was time to put on our game faces, stare into our perpetually empty refrigerator, and come up with a new plan. Ok, there wasn’t much of a backup plan going on in the refrigerator, but we did hit a home run in the pantry!

Who can resist butter pecan syrup? Apparently neither of us can, we quickly devoured our pumpkin pancakes before moving on to other running procrastination activities!

Pancake recipe adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Pancake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (I used yogurt butter.)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup almond milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice (or substitute 1 cup buttermilk)
  • olive oil spray for the pan

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg until thoroughly combined, then add the butter, pumpkin, almond milk, and lemon juice.
  • Combine the liquid ingredients and dry ingredients and whisk gently until the batter is mixed well. Some small lumps are ok.
  • Let batter rest while pan heats, at least 5 minutes.
  • Heat non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  • Spray the bottom of the pan with olive oil.
  • Using a ¼ cup measure, pour pancake batter onto the hot pan.
  • When the bubbles on the top side of the pancake begin to pop and stay open, flip to cook other side.
  • Keep warm in oven heated to 275 degrees.

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp yogurt butter

Directions:

  • In a heavy skillet, combine butter, honey, and pecans over a medium heat.
  • Continue stirring until mixture begins to brown.

Servings ~ 2-3

Pancakes (3 servings/recipe)
Calories ~ 255, Fat ~ 6 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 7 g

Butter Pecan Topping (3 servings/recipe)
Calories ~ 169, Fat ~ 9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 25 g, Protein ~ 1 g

Ok, so I’m on the pumpkin bandwagon. I never would have jumped on except that my CSA gave me a pumpkin and I had to use it. I promised Chris that if I joined the CSA I wouldn’t make a habit of wasting the random produce items.

Well, maybe some of them. I’m still not sure how I am going to eat ten super ripe tomatoes in the next few days. Keep your eye out for a “how to freeze tomatoes when your CSA gives you a billion of them” post.

I’m not a pumpkin pie fan or a pumpkin cheesecake fan, but I sure do like Pumpkin Yogurt (and Pumpkin Ravioli too)!

Once again I baked my pumpkin and food processed it to make my own pumpkin puree. It turned out great, but was probably more effort than it was worth. From now on I will probably just buy cans of pumpkin because one thing that we are definitely short of at Duke’s House is free time. Notice the lack of blog posts?

As soon as I make time for grocery shopping I will be having pumpkin yogurt again for sure!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sweetener (I used Splenda, but any sweetener will work.)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

  • Drain pumpkin in cheesecloth for a few minutes if you are using fresh pumpkin.
  • If you are using non-Greek yogurt, consider draining yogurt some as well.
  • In a small bowl, combine spices.
  • When pumpkin and yogurt are sufficiently drained, combine all of the ingredients.
  • Serve chilled with apple slices and graham crackers.

Servings ~ 2 as yogurt or 3 as dip
Calories (as yogurt) ~ 78, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 14 g, Protein ~ 7 g
Calories (as dip) ~ 52, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 9 g, Protein ~ 5 g

When I go for my fruit and veggie pickup at my CSA it is kind of like an assembly line. I go down the line and take the designated number of each item out of its box. It is pretty good as long as you get there early. I make a point to go during lunch because it is always pretty picked over by the time I get finished with work.

Last week the last items on the table were pumpkins. Not jack o’lantern style pumpkins. Just little guys in a deep orange color. I immediately though “What the heck am I going to do with this?” We are not really “seasonal decorators” at Duke’s House.

Sadly, last year we didn’t even bother to put up our Christmas tree. Yes, it is that bad. Part of that was Duke’s fault. He was still just a little guy and we didn’t trust him not to eat it or knock it over.

This year Duke+Christmas tree will still be a little dicey. He has about zero sense of spacial relations and has no idea where his tail is and what it may be knocking over. Maybe next year. With plastic ornaments. 

Back to the pumpkin. I finally read the CSA newsletter that tells you what types of fruits and veggies you have. Usually this whole identifiying the produce thing is pretty self-explanatory, but it was helpful to know that the ugly little pumpkin was a pie pumpkin. Aha!

Knowing that if I baked a pie Chris would have one slice and I would end up devouring the remainder, I decided to find an alternate use for that thing. Pumpkin Ravioli it is. Yet another dish to get the Duke’s House “We could serve this to other people.” seal of approval!

This was seriously good. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers!

 

From The Picky Eater.

Ingredients:

  • For ravioli
    • 1 1/4  cups  pumpkin purée
    • 2  tablespoons  dry breadcrumbs
    • 2  tablespoons  fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  minced fresh sage
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
    • 28 wonton wrappers, round would be best
    • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
    • Cooking spray
  • For Gorgonzola Sauce
    • 1  cup  fat-free milk
    • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2  tablespoons  butter
    • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • Garnish
    • 3  tablespoons  chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions:

  • Spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, and spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes.
  • Scrape the pumpkin into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper.
  • Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to form a half-moon.
  • Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.
  • Fill a large pot with water; bring to a simmer.
  • Add half of ravioli to the pot (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying).
  • Cook 2 minutes or until done (do not boil), stirring gently.
  • Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray, and keep warm.
  • Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.
  • To improve the texture of the wontons, heat a pan over medium heat, spray it lightly with cooking spray, and quickly pan-fried the ravioli to make their texture “crispier” and more ravioli like on the outside.
  • Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk.
  • Bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts.
  • Gently stir in Gorgonzola.
  • Place 7 ravioli in each of 4 shallow bowls, and drizzle each serving with 4 tablespoons Gorgonzola mixture.
  • Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons walnuts.
  • Serve immediately.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 350, Fat ~ 12 g, Carbohydrates ~ 48 g, Protein ~ 14 g