I'm sure this is said time and time again for the next two months, and I am going to say it too. I love fall. The smell of smoke from chimneys in the air, crunching when you walk on sidewalks, football lights at night, cheering, homecoming and pumpkin.
I love baking with pumpkin and this year is no exception. I gathered up Pick-a-Pie Pumpkins from the local CSA I am a member of. I get a family share every season and it fills our bellies with goodness, nutrient rich vegetables for 20 weeks, all the way into October. The first week of October was the start of the fall harvest where we take out tickets and pick the pumpkins, squash, potatoes, etc ourselves.
This year, I dedicated two pumpkins for the kids to decorate the front steps. I found some glow-in-the dark paint in the t-shirt decorating aisle and thought that would be kind of fun. The kids loved painting the pumpkins, and I didn't have to do any carving.
Then I took out the guts and made my delicious roasted pumpkin seeds.
-Lawrey's season salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse off the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin. Soak in salt water for an hour or more (I use sea salt). I don't have a measurement for this, just shake some in until you think the water is good and salty, maybe 2 tsp. Once soaked, strain the seeds out and pat dry a little, enough to not have water dripping off the sees and put them in a mixing bowl. Melt about 3-4 Tbs of butter, depending on how many seeds you have. I like them buttery so I never lean toward the lesser side. Pour the butter into the seeds. Add 1-2 tsp of Lawrey's season salt, again dependent on the amount of seeds. And again, I like mine salty so I tend to shake on a little extra after the seeds are placed into a shallow bar or baking pan.
Put in the oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so until they are roasted to the brown you desire. The pumpkin seeds are really all about you, so make them as buttery, salty or brown as you want. That's it. So delicious.
After the pumpkin seeds finished, it was time to get the rest of the pumpkin into the oven. I cut the tops off two Pick-a-Pie's and put them on a cookie sheet to bake at 350 degrees until a fork could easily scoop out the flesh. I can't say an exact time, guess it depends on pumpkin size, but min were in for at least an hour or more. This kind of goes by instinct. You can tell when they are nice and soft. I then set the pumpkins aside to cool for a few hours. Once cooled, you can put the scooped out flesh into a food processor or as I do, just put it into a big mixing bowl and use my hand mixer until pureed. That's it. You have delicious, nutrient rich pumpkin that doesn't have all the good stuff boiled out of it. There is no need to cut up chunks of pumpkin and boil it...ick. Who wants to eat watery puree? Just bake it and make your life easier. These two pumpkins gave me enough puree for 3 loaves of bread, a dozen and a half muffins and 3 mini loaves of the pumpkin cream cheese filled bread, with 2 cups puree left over. Wow!
The other recipe I decided to try was a Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread that I found on another blog, Cookie and Kate. If you click on this link, it should take you directly to her recipe. The only thing I changed is I used 2 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning instead of the allspice, ginger, nutmeg etc. and instead of coconut oil or vegetable oil, I used a 1/2 cup of unsweetened natural applesauce. It turned out delicious and moist, even without the added oil, so I think the substitution was well worth it. I did two loaves of this, and one loaf with chocolate chips added to it.
I used the same recipe to make Honey Whole Wheat Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling. But instead of using powdered sugar in the cream cheese, I just added honey to taste (the honey is raw, and from a friend of mine who started hives out at the CSA farm we are members of, so it is DELICIOUS!) and put a little dollop of the mixture onto a layer of the bread mix, then added more to the top so the mix covered the dollop of cream cheese to 2/3 full muffin tin cups. Baked at the same temp as the bread, for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy. Refrigerate ones not eaten.
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