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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Easy Pumpkin Puree (and Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds)

Pumpkin puree (what you get in a can of 100% canned pumpkin) can be made without peeling, chopping or boiling the pumpkin!  I know! Genius!!!  I cannot remember how I discovered this fabulous method for making pumpkin puree by baking the pumpkin, but it appears (based on everyone I've ever talked to about how I bake my pumpkins), that it is not common knowledge.   Once you've got your pumpkin puree, you can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze to use later!  I'm also putting here how to easily roast up the pumpkin seeds.  I'll include a list of delicious pumpkin recipes (to which I will try to remember to keep adding more) at the bottom. Enjoy!

PUMPKIN RECIPES (That require use of either fresh, homemade pumpkin puree or 100% canned pumpkin)
Fantastic Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes (A breakfast favorite)
Pumpkin Squares (These are like a mix of pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Yum!)
Pumpkin Bread (Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread)
Pumpkin Waffles

Delicious Pumpkin (or Squash) Pasta
Pumpkin Soup
Delicious Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes!
Pumpkin Pie Pancakes - Fabulous!
Pumpkin Pie
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Swirl Bread or Rolls
Gluten-Free Real Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Pumpkin Cheesecake Chocolate Swirl Brownies
Tasty Pumpkin Cookies
Pumpkin Granola Cookies 
Pumpkin Bagels
Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

HOMEMADE & EASY Pumpkin Puree:
Makes ~2-4 cups pumpkin puree, depending on size of pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350F-375F.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

You want to use a sugar pumpkin/pie pumpkin OR squash, like a turban or acorn squash for this recipe.  I recommend using one that fits into one hand, or one that fits into two hands held together (bigger pumpkins take longer to cook). 

*** You can ALSO cook your pumpkins/squash by slicing in half, remove the seeds, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake face-down on aluminum-foil lined pan until softened, 45 min - 1 hr.  You can even cook your pumpkins this way, if you prefer.  I find they tend to cook faster this way, but we like the fun look of baking pumpkins whole. ***

To prepare the pumpkin, cut off the top of the pumpkin so it can easily rest back on top without falling into the pumpkin (like you would carving a jack-o-lantern). 

Cut the seeds/gunk off the top of the pumpkin.  Clean out the seeds/guts of the pumpkin.  (you can save the seeds for later, if you like).
One pumpkin cleaned and ready to cook, one with seeds still inside waiting to be cleaned.

Put the top back on the pumpkin.   Place on your foil-lined pan.
These are the biggest size I'd recommend for baking. I prefer tiny pumpkins, but the taste is the same - just a longer cooking time.  My friend Linda gave me 6 of these delicious sugar pumpkins from her garden, so I've been cooking up a storm of pumpkins!

Bake ~45 min - 2 hrs, until the pumpkin feels soft when you poke the side of the pumpkin.  The skin should be much darker, and you make notice the pumpkin seems to be caving it on itself a tiny bit.  *The baking time depends on the size of pumpkin.  Small ones that fit in your hand tend to be ~ 1 hr, bigger sized (like I've done here) tend to be more like 2 hrs.
One of these pumpkins was perfectly soft, but the other had to go back in and cook another 20 minutes.  Just remove the lid and poke the flesh with a spoon to see if it's nice and soft. If not, pop it back in the oven and keep baking! These big ones took a good 2 hrs to cook.

Remove from oven. Let cool, at least until you can handle it, but you can let it cool all the way. 
Scoop out the flesh (which should be easy to scoop out), mash up a bit, if needed, and use in recipes like you would canned pumpkin!!!  Enjoy!

To store:
If you're not using your pumpkin puree right away, you can:
1. Put in a tupperware in the refrigerator for up to a few days
2. Put in 1 cup measurements (this makes it easy to defrost and use later) into ziplocs in the freezer.  I tend to measure out 1 cup sizes, put into individual ziplocs, and then place multiple 1 cup sizes into a larger ziploc that is clearly labelled.

Pumpkin Seeds
I don't know WHY all pumpkin seed recipes say they're SO quick. I think they're ignoring the whole cleaning and washing the pumpkin seeds, and then thoroughly drying the pumpkin seeds part of the recipe. These always take way longer than I think they will, but if you like oven roasted pumpkin seeds, this is a good way to use up those seeds from your pumpkin.
Make sure you thoroughly wash AND dry your pumpkin seeds.

Preheat oven to 375F. 

Mix and toss in a bowl:
1 heaping cup cleaned AND dried pumpkin seeds (I dry by patting on kitchen towels)
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil - use a flavored oil, if available for extra tasty seeds!
salt and pepper

Spread on a cookie sheet. 
Ready to bake!

Bake 7-10 minutes, until light brown and crispy.
 I'd say this is the lightest you'd want your pumpkin seeds, I prefer mine a little darker. It's easy to pop them back in to roast a bit more, if you decide you want them darker.

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