This the first of my new series that will post every (well occasionally every-other) Tuesday. Normally they will be pretty quick and to the point. A little tidbit to share. But I’m adding just a few extra words for this particular post in introduction of the series.
I do not claim to be an expert and I am by no means a professional blogger. This series will be just me sharing some quick words letting you in on what works for me. Sometimes there will be pictures or not and I may point you to another source because if that’s what really helped me, I want to share it.
So, we begin with one of my favorite subjects at this time of year. Pumpkins! Technically… they are a fruit. But whether or not you want to debate that point and whether or not you’ve ever thought anything about a pumpkin as anything other than a jack-o-lantern or a type of pie… you might find this interesting.
Over the last few autumns I have become a pumpkin hoarder. Last year we bought seven and oh, that definitely was not enough. Okay, wait, short and sweet post…. so where am I going with all this. Why did I not have enough pumpkins? Why am I buying more this year? Because I use pumpkin in almost everything. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.
I don’t remember exactly how I realized adding pumpkin would be a great way to add nutrition to my food but once I grasped the concept I was hooked.
Here’s some of the basics: I buy up a bunch of them and get to work. I cook about one every day or two by taking off the top with the stem, cutting it in half lengthwise, cleaning out the seeds and facing them flat side down on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for an hour or more. The size of the pumpkin depends on whether or not you can do two halves or one and how long you leave it in the oven.
I’ve found that the smaller pie pumpkins have less liquid in them allowing me to just scoop out the flesh directly into a food processor and the much larger pumpkins I have to squeeze out handfuls at a time first. I use my processor but if you don’t have one you can get a nice workout with a masher.
I had originally stored my pumpkin in the freezer in Ziplock bags but found that, when I only wanted to use a little a time later, this was problematic. Then I came across the idea of ice trays. I fill the trays, and after they are frozen, I move the cubes to a bag. This is perfect for having a small or large amount available. Starting this year, I will be experimenting with dehydrating it like fruit leather due to my freezer starting to get a little bit full.
Now, I know you’re just dying to find out what using this awesome fruit in everything means. Pretty much… a lot, if not actually in every thing. Pumpkin does have a bit of a “squashy” (sorry, not sure that’s an actual word) flavor, more so depending on which type you use. But it really doesn’t have to be for just your traditional pumpkin pie or bread.
Pumpkin will take on the flavor of whatever seasoning you use. Besides adding extra nutrition and helping fill up your dish a little more, it’s great for thickening (think really low-cal mock-Alfredo sauce) or in place of eggs and oil (some of this has been trial and error but it’s a lot like the concept of using applesauce as a substitute). So yes, my pancakes and waffles are usually just pumpkin and Bisquick mostly, but here’s another example of a meal I made last night. My goal was a very calorie friendly Stroganoff with a dessert for my goober twins that would be light compared to the eating out treat they’d had earlier in the day.
My Stoganoff consisted of organic turkey burger (hey it was actually the cheapest on sale at the store), seasonings (love my Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic and Onion Onion – https://www.facebook.com/ts.pkoester/timeline), Worcestershire sauce, a little plain non-fat Greek yogurt, and of course a few good scoops of pumpkin, all served up on yellow squash Veghetti. Okay, so it wasn’t quite the taste of traditional Stroganoff but I think I was a little off in the exact mix of different seasonings I used. But it still tasted really good, my family liked it, and unless being told, you wouldn’t know there was pumpkin in it.
Dessert was about a cup and a half to two cups pumpkin, maybe a teaspoon or two pumpkin spice, approximately two tablespoons dry vanilla pudding mix and about the same graham cracker crumbs, and a splash of almond milk. Mixed it all really good and refrigerated until supper was over. The girls loved it. I know these aren’t exact recipe’s but I was playing around some last night just experimenting.
My husband and I finished our evening off with a few pumpkin pie seeds that I really liked but I still have some ideas on how I might want to tweak the process. For starters I followed this blog post http://www.superhealthykids.com/super-crunchy-pumpkin-spice-seeds/
Not quite so short of a post to start off a series on tidbits, but did I mention this is one of my favorite subjects when it comes to cooking and actually by comparison to what all I could have kept on about… Feel free to ask any questions in the comments if you’d like to further explore this topic with me and make the most of this awesome time of year!