September ushers in the start of fall and a longing for sweaters, amber leaves, and – of course – pumpkins! If you’re looking for some inspiration to up your pumpkin game this year, we have a few ideas for you.
HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PUREE
First on our mind is, as always, dessert. To make your own pumpkin desserts, you have to start with a good base. Skip the canned and make your own homemade pumpkin puree.
- Choose a small, dark-colored pumpkin. Larger pumpkins grown to make Jack-O-Lanterns are too stringy on the inside and have much less flavor than their smaller counterparts.
- Carefully cut the pumpkin in half, and discard the stem and pulp. If you like roasted pumpkin seeds, make sure to set the seeds aside first!
- Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a cookie sheet, and cover with foil.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, depending on size. You’ll know the pumpkin is tender if a fork stab goes easily in and out.
- Once the pumpkin is cool, scoop out the meat to puree or mash it. Now you have pumpkin for your pie and cheesecake recipes! (See our April blog post for cheesecake tips.)
Maybe you’ve already done the pumpkin standards. For a new appetizer or casual dessert, try this pumpkin dip.
1 cup pumpkin puree from above
1½ cups cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2½ tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a bowl, beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and pumpkin puree together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and creamy (3 to 5 minutes).
- Add maple syrup and cinnamon, and beat until smooth (1 to 2 minutes).
- Chill and spoon into a serving dish.
- Pair with graham crackers, pretzels, bread, or crackers.
Finish off the presentation by serving the dip in a pumpkin! Cut the top off a small pumpkin and clean out the pulp (again, save the seeds if you want to roast them). Voilà!
Looking for a pumpkin recipe that is on the savory side? These stuffed pumpkins use a well-rounded palette of ingredients while also looking great.
2 small cooking pumpkins
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks
½ stick plus 1 teaspoon butter, divided
¼ cup golden raisins
1½ cups water
1 smoked ham steak, diced
6 oz box stuffing mix
Allspice, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with canola oil cooking spray. Cut the tops off the pumpkins, and clean out the pulp. (Those seeds – you know what to do!) Place the pumpkins upside down on the cookie sheet, and bake for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the onion and celery, and sautee them in the ½ stick of butter until almost soft. Add raisins, water, and ham steak. Heat for 5 minutes or until simmering.
- Combine the ham mixture with the stuffing mix, and let sit for 3 minutes. (Do not worry if it is a little dry.)
- Once the pumpkins are done, lower the oven temperature to 330 degrees. Take out the cookie sheet, and turn the pumpkins over. Melt the remaining teaspoon of butter, and brush it over the inside surface of each pumpkin. Sprinkle allspice and nutmeg around the insides of the pumpkins, and spoon in the ham mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.
Not only do you now have a filling meal, but how impressive will that plate look with dinner presented in a pumpkin! You can even garnish with a few roasted pumpkin seeds.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Speaking of all those seeds, to make roasted pumpkin seeds, try the following method.
- Rinse the seeds in a colander to remove all the pumpkin guts.
- Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet. For an added pop of flavor, sprinkle with seasoned salt.
- Put in the oven at 300 degrees until the seeds are dry, about 20 minutes. For even temperature distribution, stir the seeds every 5 minutes.
If you’re not into eating pumpkins but you still like to decorate in a fall harvest theme, try making candle holders! Gather a variety of gourds in different colors, sizes, and shapes. Make tealight-sized holes with a sharp knife and a spoon – or using a drill with a similarly-sized bit. Drop a tealight inside, and you have a new addition to your autumn ambiance.
As the temperatures start to drop, may these pumpkin treats bring warmth to your heart!
Fresh from our oven to yours - happy baking!