When choosing a pumpkin at the market, look for soft spots, mold, wrinkles or open cuts that would indicate damage or early spoilage. Choose a pumpkin with a solidly attached stem. A green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin. Choose pumpkins between 4 to 8 pounds and labeled “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” Some specific names are Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina (which are white), Cinderella and Fairy Tale. Pumpkins have a long shelf life and can keep for months at cool room temperature.
- 2 ½ pounds pie pumpkins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pumpkins into 5×5-inch pieces. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Arrange pieces in a single layer, skin sides up, in a foil-lined baking pan.
Cover with foil. Bake about 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from rind. Place pulp in food processor or blender.
Cover and process or blend until smooth. Measure out what is needed for a recipe. Transfer remaining puree to an airtight container.
Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw frozen puree in the refrigerator.
Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12 – 15 depending on the size of your muffin tin.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup applesauce
- ¼ cup reduced fat milk or almond milk
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- Vanilla sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-15 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Combine the remaining (wet) ingredients in another bowl.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture until just moist. Fill the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
Let rest for 10 minutes.Remove the muffins and cool on a wire rack.
Apple Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin butter is a delicious addition to waffles, pancakes, banana bread, oatmeal or as a spread for toast. It also makes a great and healthy topping for ice cream.
- 4 cups pumpkin puree or two 15-oz. cans pureed pumpkin
- 1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
In 5-quart Dutch oven combine all ingredients except nuts. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, about an hour until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.
Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.
Acorn squash can have orange, dark green, or tan skin. To pick a good-tasting one, press it all around to make sure it’s devoid of soft spots. Don’t refrigerate-just store the squash in an airy dry spot for up to 3 weeks.
Roasted Acorn Squash Slices
- 1 medium acorn squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven 350°F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and membrane. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices; discard ends.
Place slices in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the maple syrup. Dot with butter.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 3 large acorn squash, halved crosswise, seeds and fibers scooped out
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk, sliced thin
- 12 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups of 1/4-inch cubes of lightly toasted sourdough bread
- ¾ cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Oven 400 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice off the bottom of each squash half so that they stand flat, being careful not to cut into the flesh.
Place in a baking dish large enough to hold the squash halves and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, until no traces of pink remain, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the thyme, salt, pepper, bread cubes and chicken broth until well mixed.
Divide the stuffing mixture among the squash halves. Add enough water to the roasting pan to make a depth of about 1/4 inch. Cover the squash loosely with aluminum foil.
Roast for 45 minutes.Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until the squash is tender. Place 1 squash half on each of 6 plates, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.