Sunday, November 16, 2014

pumpkin madness

it starts with halloween--picking the perfect pumpkin to carve, decorate, and display--then continues into thanksgiving with pumpkin pie spiced EVERYthing. this season i decided to embrace the bright orange squash and spread some pumpkin love.

ever since i was a little kid i would get at least one mini pumpkin each year. i'd pick the perfect palm-sized pumpkin and proudly display it until december. sometimes i'd draw a face on it, sometimes i'd leave it unadorned. this year i opted for the white variety instead of orange, and, inspired by pinterest, i went crafty with my mini pumpkins. meet my pumpkin panda and its two doughnut friends.
see the sugar pumpkin hiding behind the minis? well, it's hiding for good reason since it would soon be scooped out and roasted O.O i picked up this perfect pumpkin at schmitt farm on long island last month. we had some good times...
but with halloween over and thanksgiving in sight, it was time to turn this guy into some fall treats.

i started by scooping out the seeds and roasting them with a honey glaze. for half a cup of seeds, i mixed together two teaspoons of honey with one teaspoon of coconut oil (melted) and a pinch of salt. i roasted these on a lined sheet pan at 300F, and after thirty minutes you have a nice toasty sweet snack.

with the rest of the pumpkin i made tracy shutterbean's maple bourbon pumpkin butter. first i roasted the pumpkin for almost an hour. once it cooled the skin peeled away easily and i transferred the cooked pumpkin into a container to blend. smoooooth~ next it needed to cook on the stovetop with some maple syrup, brown sugar, spices, and a bit of lemon juice. that reduced for about thirty minutes and then it was time to add the bourbon. yessss! simmer a bit more and then we have homemade pumpkin butter. oh, and i even used homemade pumpkin pie spice cuz i'm fancy ;)

now, it wouldn't be a true pumpkin party if there isn't pumpkin bread of some sort, so i chose to make joy the baker's vegan pumpkin pecan bread. the bread has a great nuttiness and fragrant warm spices. i took an easier approach and used canned organic pumpkin (thank you, trader joe's). since this was a vegan recipe, there was no need to soften butter or crack any eggs--win win--just the basic dry ingredients, a bunch of spices and chopped pecans, oil, maple syrup, and some water. i divided the batter into a regular loaf pan and four mini loaves. i shared the large loaf and froze the mini ones for thanksgiving treats.

phew, that was a lot of pumpkin activity, but i'm on a roll, so what else should i make?? soup? pie? ice cream? milkshake? latte? oh, the possibilities!

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:: maple bourbon pumpkin butter ::
(recipe from shutterbean)

2 sugar pie pumpkins, cut in half & de-seeded
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of kosher salt
juice of 1 lemon
3oz bourbon

preheat oven to 400F. place pumpkin cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until pumpkins are thoroughly cooked. remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

scrape the cooked pumpkin from the skins and place in a blender. process for about 2-3 minutes, until pumpkin in velvety smooth. transfer puree to a large saucepan and add brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt. stir to combine and finish with the juice of one lemon. heat pumpkin mixture over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. do not let any burn at the bottom of the pan. slowly add in the bourbon, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. add additional maple syrup or lemon juice to taste, if needed.

let mixture cool and transfer to clean jars. pumpkin butter will last up to one month in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

:: pumpkin pie spice ::
(recipe from joy the baker)
makes about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
big pinch of cardamom (or you can substitute mace)

blend all spices together, working out any lumps that might occur. store in an old spice jar.

:: vegan pumpkin pecan bread ::
(recipe from joy the baker)
makes two 8x4-inch loaves

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
8 whole pecan halves, for garnish

place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F degrees. grease and flour two 8x4x3-inch loaf pans and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. in a medium bowl, carefully whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, and water.

add the oil mixture all at once to the flour mixture. use a spatula to fold the ingredients together. make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, finding any stray bits of flour and sugar that might have been left behind. fold in the chopped pecans.

divide the batter between the prepared pans and arrange 4 whole pecan halves on the top of each loaf.

bake for 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean. remove from the oven. (NOTE: i pulled my loaves at around 45 minutes, given the variation in pan size.) let rest in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

serve brad warm, in thick slices. loaves can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. these loaves also freeze well and can be left at room temperature to thaw and enjoy.

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