Oops! There Goes the Pumpkin

The Hot Pot before baking.

Ah, it’s fall. My favorite time of year because the pumpkins are back in the stores. So you can imagine my excitement when I received a new recipe for Aromatic Pumpkin And Chickpea Hot Pot that my friend Stacy found in the New York Times.

Like Stacy, I was going to back this Hot Pot inside a pumpkin — even though the recipe didn’t call for it. And like Stacy, I was going to impress the socks off my dinner guests.

I made some minor modifications to the recipe. I didn’t use chunks of pumpkin when assembling since it would be cooked inside one. I planned to just scrap the pumpkin meat off the sides when dishing out the stew. That makes prepping much easier.

I also cut the chickpeas in half and instead used a can of hominy.

This hot pot recipe was super easy to prepare.  I assembled and cooked it on the stove top the night before. Refrigerated over night and then placed it inside the pumpkin to bake for our noon dinner.

Guests arrived, dinner was ready, and all I needed to do was transfer the baked pumpkin filled with this awesome tasting hop pot recipe on to the severing platter for it’s final presentation.

The Remains.

As my guests were looking on in wonderment, I picked up the pumpkin from the 9″ cake pan it was resting in and I suddenly hear a WHOOSH! To my horror the stew dropped out of the bottom of the pumpkin, back into the cake pan, and overflowed in to the stove.

As I continued to look on in horror, my friend stepped in to take over. We were able to salvage what fell into the cake pan and serve it in the pumpkin, placed in a bowl, on top of the serving platter.

Dinner wasn’t a disaster, but it sure did come close.

The Final Presentation.

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The End of Fall

Photo taken by thehipvegetarian

Pumpkins during the Fall season are simply beautiful.

However before they lose their luster, I always bake them to freeze so I can make soups throughout the rest of the year.  Take them to the slaughter-house, I say!

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start the process before they start to mold from the inside out.

This year I gutted my Blue Hubbard pumpkin and filled it with about a quarter-cup of water, baked it at 350 degrees until the skin was tender enough to be pierced by a fork.  I found this to be much easier than cutting the pumpkin into sections before baking or peeling  it raw.

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Don’t Throw Those Seeds in to the Weeds!

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I lower my head in shame thinking of all the pumpkin seeds I’ve thrown away over the years — never once thinking that I could turn them in to something delicious.

Thanks to my friend Valerie over at 29 Days of Pumpkin I am now saving those seeds.  I love her recipe Toasted Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds. When I made them the first time I ate the whole batch by myself.

Not a proud moment.

What I love most about this recipe is the addition of black pepper. The little charge of spice is a nice balance to the brown sugar’s sweetness.

Today I am working on cooking all my left over pumpkins, and have been collecting the seeds.  I’m just about ready to make my last batch of Toasted Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds for the season.

I think I’ll have to package them up to share with family so I don’t eat them all…by myself…again.

Toasted Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, unwashed
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter/margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsps vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice or
can replace with cinnamon

Line 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly spray with no-stick  cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set pan aside.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and add brown sugar, vanilla, salt, pepper, and your choice of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Stir for 1 minute, and remove from heat.

Add pumpkin seeds to mixture and stir until thoroughly coated. Spread out in thin layer in baking dish, and bake in oven at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spread on wax paper to cool.

The Pumpkin Pie Alternative

Photo taken by thehipvegetarian

One of my inspirations for sharing recipes comes from a high school friend Valerie over at her 29 Days of Pumpkin blog.  Valerie has an ambitious month by committing to make a pumpkin recipe everyday until Thanksgiving.  She’s a trooper since no one else in her family likes pumpkin. Between you and me, they are missing out!

Here’s a recipe that I tried from her Day 5 Post — Gooey Butter Cake.

If you caught My Sunday Confession you would have read that I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie.  Though this recipe reminds me of pumpkin pie, it’s much better reincarnated as a cake.  I prefer to think it’s the cream cheese.  My theory is you can never go wrong with cream cheese.

In fact when I make this recipe again, I think I will place a cream cheese/sugar mixture between the cake batter and the filling.  Make it a three layered cake.  In my mind I can already taste it.

Gooey Butter Pumpkin Cake

Cake Bottom:
1-18.25 oz package yellow cake mix
1 large egg
8 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling:
2 cups grated raw pumpkin
1-8 ounce package of cream cheese,
softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 3/4 cup box powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt

Garnish
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sprinkled on
top of each square of cake
1 dollop of fresh whipped cream per
serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place raw pumpkin in bowl and cook in microwave
for 5 min. Drain out excess water. Set aside.

Make cake by mixing cake mix, egg and butter. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking
pan, and pat cake mixture into bottom of pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the pumpkin and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla, eggs, butter and beat. Mix dry ingredients of powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin pie spice and add to cream cheese mixture. Mix well.

Pour mixture over cake batter and spread evenly. Bake for 35-45 , and be careful not to overcook as the center should be soft and gooey, as the title describes. Cut into squares and sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. Place 1-2 pieces per plate for serving,and dollop fresh whipped cream in center.

Curry Pumpkin Soup

Photo taken by thehipvegetarian

These chilly nights put me in the mood for Curry Pumpkin Soup.  This is a recipe I discovered in 2002 while traveling with my childhood friend in New Zealand. We were visiting a cousin of her’s outside Auckland and we’re served this soup.

The best pumpkin that I’ve found for soup is the Blue Hubbard variety.  It has a beautiful blue-gray skin and makes a lovely decorative addition to any home until you’re ready to use it.  However if Blue Hubbard is out of season then Acorn Squash is a good substitute.

This recipe calls for Indian curry.  I’ve used a variety of Indian curries over the years and they are all good.  However this week I tried a Thai yellow curry paste and I wasn’t disappointed. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

You’ll need to experiment to find the best texture and thickness for your liking.   Try adding more/less pumpkin, more/less cream, more/less water, etc.

When I tasted this soup for the first time I immediately fell in love. I think you will too.

1 Large Onion
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
1.5-2 t Curry Powder OR 1 T Thai Yellow Curry Paste
5 Cups of Water
8 t Vegetable Stock
4-6 cups of pumpkin or squash (I like Blue Hubbard pumpkins the best)
300 ml Full Cream

Saute Onion and garlic in melted butter with curry powder or paste. Add water and vegetable stock, pumpkin (peeled & cooked) and boil until soft. Place all ingredients in blender and whiz to mushy liquid. Add cream & parsley.

A Recipe to Impress

Spicy Fall Pumpkin Stew

Spicy Fall Pumpkin Stew

Fall is in the air and my favorite recipe of all time is from a 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times.  Spicy Fall Pumpkin Stew looks so elegant baked in a pumpkin, yet it is easy to assemble.  You’ll be sure to impress your guests with its savory flavors of cheddar cheese, cumin and garlic. The original recipe calls for cayenne pepper, however I always leave that out because I don’t like recipes that are too spicy.  Also the Poblano-Cucumber Salsa completes the meal. Enjoy!