Pumpkin Extravaganza!

So I’m feeling pretty domesticated this year and this week I found resourceful ways to eat our 8lb Halloween pumpkin this year.  Here is my journey:

Tuesday- So the weekend’s past, Halloween’s over and my venture for pumpkin cooking should have started yesterday.  Last night in class I am searching through recipes some of which don’t sound appealing.  Pumpkin chili for example, do you think my husband’s going to fall for that one?  Not sure to be honest, I haven’t cooked pumpkin before so the lingering taste is hard to imagine.  I did find an interesting Pumpkin pancake recipe which just sounded fool-proof.  Everyone likes pancakes, right?  And I’m always like trying different foods for the babies, so pancakes it is today.  Ingredients aren’t too bad, unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour (still had that left over from my wheat bread, which I am quite fond of if you ever want the recipe let me know), sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, egg, nutmeg and ground ginger.  Well, I didn’t have ground ginger; the only time I buy weird stuff like that is when I am cooking a special meal and I go gourmet on myself.  Nutmeg was a result of this, for what?  I forget now, but I hadn’t made it around the spice circuit for ground ginger yet so I will have to do without that, I thought.  The rest of the recipe was easy-  just mix all the ingredients together, oil a pan, and cook til bubbly then you know it’s time to flip.  Drizzle on some butter and syrup (not too much though, my syrup is over 200 calories for 1/4 a cup) and voila- pumpkin pancakes!  The taste was just ok to me, it was like it was missing ingredients (it wasn’t your Denny’s pancake- that’s for sure).  I realized when I was cleaning up that I missed the baking powder and the cinnamon- that might explain, huh?  Overall, not too bad, a good starting point.

Tuesday lunch is rolling around and although that pumpkin chili keeps popping in my head, I refuse to make it.  Instead I shake off my pumpkin intentions and start pondering the “what’s for lunch” question.  Pasta is always good, Costco sells a fabulous cheese ravioli that we usually have in the freezer.  But wait, can’t I use my pumpkin in a pasta?  Quickly I run to the computer with a mission and start hunting for  pumpkin pasta recipes.  I find somewhat of what I am looking for on the Woman & Home website that has pumpkin and pappardelle in the heading.  I read further to find that it calls for sage (which I have leftover from a sage pasta recipe I tried a couple weeks earlier) parmesan (always have that) and rocket?  Ok, what’s rocket?  Now I have to inquire.  Rocket, I find out is a type of leafy green, usually substituted for kale. I’ve never seen rocket before and never gotten around to kale, so it looks like I am changing up the recipe for lunch.  Instead of pappardelle pasta I will use tri-color spinach bow pasta, and instead of rocket I will use the only leafy green vegetable I got: frozen spinach.  So I roast the pumpkin in olive oil for about half an hour in the oven, in the meantime I cook my pasta.  Then I add my cooked pasta to the pan of pumpkin I’ve take out of the oven and put on the stove.  Finally I cut up some sage and put in my frozen spinach and heat on medium- low til my spinach defrosts and wilt.  There I have it-my version of pumpkin pasta.  I am quite impressed with how good this came out.  It lasted a couple of meals after and the parmesan melted on top was the perfect touch.

Wednesday- You would think by now I would be at my end up to my eyeballs with pumpkin.  I still had about 2 cups of pumpkin left and still not a clue on what I should try next.  I was pretty busy with school work and kinda distracted to be playing around with pumpkin recipes but still was determined to experiment.  I was cooking catfish that night for dinner and tired of my usual rice and was wondering if I could incorporate pumpkin somehow as a side dish.  I found a pumpkin risotto recipe but didn’t have enough of the recipes or substitutes to pull it off.  Then for some reason soup popped in my head.  I vaguely remember pumpkin soup as something I tried once and loved so I thought it was worth a shot.  I found an easy recipe-afterall, I did have school and plus who wants to be slaving in the kitchen all day?  I melted butter in the pan and added some garlic.  Then, instead of onions, which I was all out of, I added onion powder, not something I would normally do, but for the sake of my Pumpkin Extravaganza, why not?  The recipe called for 2 cups of chicken broth- yikes I’m out!  But luckily I have chicken bouillon and 4 tsp in 2 boiling cup of water did the trick.  (I’ve done this before, can you tell?)  I added the “chicken broth” to the pot with my pumpkin that I pureed in the blender and microwaved for a couple of minutes.  I didn’t have ground ginger but threw in some ground nutmeg and a dash of white pepper.  Then I added a bay leaf, brought the whole pot to a boil and simmered for 15 minutes.  After that I let it cooled for a bit and then added 3/4 cup of whipping cream and some parsley (without forgetting to take the bay leaf out).  Result?  Yummy!  I would totally make this again.  For the babies who are not skilled at utensils yet, I added the soup onto noodles for which they hand fed themselves and they seemed to like it.  The next day I had the left-over soup for lunch with french bread- even better!

Thursday- I had come across a pumpkin chocolate-chip recipe while searching and thought it was a perfect ending to my pumpkin extravaganza!  The recipe called for all the usual baking stuff- sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder & soda, and vegetable oil.  Then for the spices I added cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had to do without the ground cloves, a small 1/4 teaspoon loss, no big deal.  I then added  3/4 cup of pureed pumpkin and folded in the chocolate chips.  I poured the batter (2/3 full for a count of 12) in a greased muffin pan and baked in my oven (preheated to 400 degree) for 20 minutes and out came moist muffins.  I usually don’t cook sweets but these came out pretty good.  The chocolate is what makes them scrummy and the pumpkin is the aftertaste that leaves you wanting more.

So there you have it- my Pumpkin Extravaganza!  A fun way this year to end the Halloween season and start the Thanksgiving month.  I have a new-found passion for the taste of pumpkins and look forward to trying some new ideas next year.

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