Pumpkin - The Fountain of Youth

Pumpkins make me smile!
 I have been doing a bit of research about pumpkins for a variety of reasons, and let me tell you, these orange globes are as close to the fountain of youth as you will ever get.  While I was researching my Pumpkin Lore article for Acreage Life Magazine, I discovered more reasons than I ever had before for loving pumpkins!

Note: There will be links and recipes at the end of this page...be sure to scroll all the way down for some amazing ideas!
This color is one of the most cheerful I know.
Most people are acquainted with pumpkins because they lend themselves so readily to the creation of Jack-o-lanterns.  I have no problem with that!  I've seen some very artistic pumpkin creations and my hat goes off to those artists.

As for me, I like to figure out as many ways as possible to incorporate pumpkin in the diet of my family because of how good it is for your skin and your overall health.  That bright orange color fairly shouts beta-carotene!!!!! Doesn't it?  With good reason.  Pumpkins are stuff full of beta-carotene that your body converts to vitamin A.

 I'll be talking a lot about super foods in this blog, and pumpkins are number one on my list! The reason for this is because incorporating pumpkin into your daily diet is pretty darn easy.  You can prepare your very own pumpkin puree and freeze it.  
Never can pumpkin puree, the USDA has determined that the home canning process is inadequate to guarantee against the formation of botulism in pumpkin puree because there is no way to ensure that the entire contents of every jar reach the proper temperature.
 When looking for pumpkins to cook for your puree, look for the smaller pumpkins.  They will be sweeter, more tender, and have a deeper color than the pumpkins that are bred for Jack-o-lanterns.  You can certainly eat any pumpkin, but those larger pumpkins tend to be stringy, full of water and very little flavor.

I like to do a huge batch of pumpkin all at the same time.  I like to bake my pumpkin because it gives a slightly roasted flavor and a deeper color to the puree. Cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds (save these, they are chock full of magnesium that helps to counteract the effects of stress...there's a recipe for these in my Pumpkin Lore article in Acreage Life Magazine.

I fill cookie sheets full of pumpkin halves and place them in a 350 degree oven. After about 30 - 45 minutes, check and see how they're doing.  You want the flesh to be completely soft.  Pull them out of the oven and allow to cool somewhat.  When you can easily handle the pumpkin halves, scoop out the cooked flesh and place into a bowl.  I use my Kitchen-aid countertop mixer to beat the pumpkin into a puree.

What I do is place about a cup of the puree in small freezer zip-lock bags, press out all the air, and press them flat on the counter.  This way they will take up much less room in my freezer.  This way, whenever I want to add pumpkin to anything I am cooking, I have it ready to go.  I mix pumpkin in soups, stews, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, and my family is none the wiser for it!
Making pumpkin pie is the most common way people incorporate pumpkin into their diet.  This is perfectly fine.  Did you know that you can make pumpkin pie filling and cook it in individual casserole dishes without the crust for a low-fat dessert that is more healthy than just about anything else on the dessert table?

My absolute favorite way of cooking with pumpkin is to cook a casserole inside a pumpkin.  When I do it for the entire family, I pick a medium sized pumpkin and make sure it will sit flat and that it will fit inside my oven.  One time I didn't do this and dinner didn't turn out exactly the way I had planned it!

The time I made the kids their very own casserole with individual pumpkins was the best hit ever.  All I did is make a macaroni and cheese bake, spooned it into the little pumpkins that had been cleaned out and baked it in the oven until the pumpkin was cooked.  It was delicious, and even if the kids didn't eat all of the pumpkin, they ate a whole lot more than they would have otherwise!
This guy won't fit in my oven...but the one behind him might...
Let me know ways you incorporate pumpkin into your lives!



Pumpkin Recipe Section:


Lasagne Cooked in a Sugar Pumpkin

Pumpkin gnocchi and sage butter

 This one is a lovely recipe for pumpkin gnocchi and sage butter from Cookography.  I found it on A Tea Lover's blog where she added some of her own pictures. Try this one out!

Be careful not to overwork or overknead the dough; you simply want to incorporate the flour into the pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 oz.) Can Pumpkin Puree (drain excess water)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash Of Nutmeg
  • 2 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Melted Butter
  • 6-7 Finely Chopped Sage Leaves
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic, Minced
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  1. Mix together the flour, pumpkin and seasonings to make a soft dough.
  2. Add additional flour if the dough is sticky or does not hold together.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 parts, and on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a rope about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces and roll each lightly along the floured surface.
  5. Continue using up all the dough in this fashion. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet. You can refrigerate the gnocchi until you are ready to cook them.
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a slow boil.
  2. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat.
  3. Add the garlic and sage.
  4. Cook the gnocchi in lightly salted boiling water for until the gnocchi rise to the surface and float.
  5. Remove from the water, mix with the butter sage sauce, and serve topped with the freshly grated cheese.

Butterscotch pumpkin pie

And here is a unique pumpkin pie recipe from Boulderdash Ballyhoo's Rantings:

Today I have a bit of a twist if you will, not really but hey its 2010 and people are throwing out phrases all over right? Anyway, today I am presently awaiting my last 30 minutes of baking while I start to write this bit about a lovely pie:

It's really not hard to do, the magic is making sure when you melt the butterscotch you don't burn or over cook them prematurely during that melt.

The ingredients:

1 - pie crust, frozen, refrigerated or home made, doesn't matter.
1- can 15 oz of pumpkin pie filler (i use organic)
1 - can 12 oz of evaporated milk (not sweetened)
1 - cup butterscotch flavored chips (like the chocolate chips)
2 - eggs, slightly beaten, do not whip them
1/2 - cup sugar
3 - teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (i use McCormick)
1 - teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 - teaspoon of salt


1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, prepare pie crust as needed if packaged, place in 9 inch pie plate, deep stylepreferred

2: Put butterscotch chips in microwave and set for 1 minute on high in a bowl (microwave glass preferred), start, pause and stir every 15 seconds until completely melted.

3: Mix beaten eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and salt in a large bowl and wire whisk until well blended. Stir in the pumpkin filler, evap milk and the now melted chips until well blended and smooth smooth smooth!!!

4: Pour mix into pie crust covered pan

5: Bake in oven at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce temp down to 350F for another 40-45 minutes. (the check: knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean)

6: Cool on wire rack