Monday, September 29, 2014

All things Pumpkin

This morning - in about an hour, on Good Day Columbus (Ch 28 FOX) I'll be talking about the health benefits of eating pumpkin, the pitfalls of eating pumpkin and what to make with pumpkin...all in 4 minutes or less.

I'd like my own food show.  I mean, pumpkin deserves more than 4 minutes, don't you think?

Pumpkin Energy Nuggets

Combine in a large bowl:
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds*
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds*
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
     *I "toast" this small amount of seeds in a non-stick skillet over medium to med-low heat for a few minutes - watch carefully and stir often.

In the bowl of a food processor to high powered blender (Vitamix!) combine:
1 cup dates
3-4 cup pumpkin (unsweetened puree from a can or fresh that's been cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup agave syrup
You may have to stop the processor and scrape down the sides.  This is where a smaller processor would be really handy...I should get one!

Add the date mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined completely.  You'll need a little patience here - think of massaging the ingredients with your spoon to get it all to come together.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Roll into balls - I use my 1 oz ice cream scooper and then my hands.  If the mixture is too crumbly, add more pumpkin.

I like to store my balls in the freezer.

Pumpkin Pudding and tarts
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 cups milk
1 large egg
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned unsweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
pinch of nutmeg

Set 4 small ramekins out on counter, or small shortbread tart shells, or both! (I found these in the baking isle at my local grocery store).  I put mine on a small sheet pan to make transferring from the counter to the fridge easier.

In a medium heavy saucepan whisk sugar and corn starch.

In a medium bowl whisk together egg and milk.

In yet another bowl, combine pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, alt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Slowly whisk together the milk mixture into the sugar mixture.  Over medium heat and whisking almost constantly (as soon as you are tempted to turn away this is the exact moment when the mixture will thicken and boil:)) until boiling.  Stir and let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Add pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.  Return pan to low heat and stir for 1-2 minutes more until the mixture is evenly warm.  At this point pour the mixture into the ramekins and tart shells.  Cover in placates and refrigerate.  I have to admit that I really like the pudding when it is warm, so do as you please, eat immediately, or chilled.

Top with what you like.  I like toasted and or candied pecans and whipped cream.

Quick Candied Pecans
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tablespoons sugar
Flake sea salt (optional)

Get a sheet pan ready with either a silicone sheet or AL foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Place ingredients in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When the sugar begins to melt, stir to coat the nuts.  When the sugar turns a golden brown, remove the pan from the heat.  Spread nuts on prepared pan** and cool completely.  **This is the time to sprinkle with sea salt if desired.

Whipped Cream 
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
vanilla extract (optional)

In a stand mixer or bowl if you are using a hand held mixer, whip ingredients on med-high until desired consistency.  I like a loose whipped cream that forms pillows rather than stiff mounds.  Top pudding and serve.  This holds well in the fridge; just re-whip or stir vigorously to regain desired consistency.

Pumpkin Pie Spice You can make this to suit your taste.  If you don't like cloves, leave them out completely!  A little cayenne adds some kick.

3 Tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Whisk together in a small bowl.  Keep in an air tight container.  Use to dress-up oatmeal or yogurt.  Try this on toast for pumpkin pie toast in the morning.  Use this blend in your pancake and waffle mix and in the egg mixture for French toast.