Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 19: Pumpkin-Pecan Pie with Whiskey Butter Sauce


I'm a light weight. There's no question about it. Other than the sip of wine I have, three times a week, for communion... I drink about two times a year and that drink usually includes an umbrella or a chunk of tropical fruit lounging on the side of the glass for effect... so we're not talking, the hard stuff. In fact, I usually enjoy the tiny umbrella more than the actual drink itself. (Picture reenactments of Gene Kelley's iconic performance from "Singing in the Rain," only with a teeny tiny umbrella. Whew. Funny stuff.)

So, if you're like me, and you consider that box of Merlot in your fridge, sort of over the top, you might find this pie a little... er... strong. I'm pretty sure I was drunk after the first bite. That however, did not stop multiple family members from pouring whiskey straight from the bottle into their plastic SoHo cup "just to try it." Now granted, I did use the best of the best.

(I hand dipped that bottle myself, back in 2000, while at seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. The irony of it all, does not escape me. But I'd like the record to note, that of the group of seminarians -- future ministers of mainline protestant congregations that generally frown upon excessive drinking -- that went to the distillery, I was the only one that still had an unopened bottle left!)

What you'll need:

For the Pumpkin Filling...
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, beaten until frothy
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg

For the Pecan Syrup...
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 small eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
3/4 cup pecan pieces

For the Good Stuff (otherwise known as Whiskey Butter Sauce)...
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon very hot water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey

Pumpkin Filling... Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl; set aside.
Pecan Syrup... Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325*. The original recipe in New Tastes from Texas (though "new" is relative... this recipe is from 1993), calls for making your own crust, and baking it in a spring-form pan. That sounded like an awful lot of trouble, so I used a store bought (deep-dish) crust and it worked just find.

Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the pan, spreading evenly to distribute. Gently pour the syrup on top. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cool and serve with Whiskey Butter Sauce.

Whiskey Butter Sauce... Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water. Beat the sugar and egg in a small bowl until blended. Stir the egg mixture into the butter. Add the hot water and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Remove from the double boiler and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the cream and whiskey. I might mention, that glancing at the recipe when adding the whiskey, might not be a bad idea. I didn't... thought I'd wing it. Added half a cup (mind you, at an Aunt's bidding) and need I say... it was a little much. For instance:

Here's a picture of my Dad, getting ready to try his first bite of pie. He's excited!

Here's my Dad, having JUST taken his first bite of pie. In about thirty seconds, the whiskey's gonna hit him.

Here's my Dad, and the whiskey hit him. We found him later, sprawled out back, licking the bowl that the sauce was in. He liked it!

I think the heavy hitters in my family would give it an A. I'd give it a B-... as it turns out, I'm not much of a whiskey fan. And I sort of wish I had my unopened bottle back. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 18: Happy Thanksgiving

No sarcasm. No cynicism.

Just a day of feeling thankful for...

*My husband, my parents, and the family that reminds who I am and where I come from.
*My animals... especially Wywy, Abby, and my old lady bunny, Shuffles.
*My friends, near and far, who promise not to take offense, when they are listed after my animals.
*My relative good health, and even when it's not good, access to doctors and medications.
*My good looks, fat wallet, and perfect smile. (Oh, that's right... no sarcasm.)
*The privilege of working in the church, for a God which I hope, can take all our "being church" in stride.
*For children who, though not my own, I cherish as if they were.
*The ability to laugh and those around me, who see humour in life.
*Our home which protects my head, houses my memories, and feels warm even when I'm not.
*For full tummies and thirst that is quenched.
*For light at the end of every tunnel, no matter how dark they are... because people around me care for me, laugh at me, and hold me accountable.
*For safety.
*For memories that carry strong emotion.
*For a life lived well most days... and all the daily thanksgivings that go unnoticed. The smell of dog breath, the fact that my car starts every morning, a running washing machine, good books, bedtime under a great big comforter, a closet full of nothing to wear, overstuffed chairs, brand new Yahtzee pads, a clean kitchen... Oh, the list is endless.

And in gratitude, I give you Paula Deens Pumpkin Pie. Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's what you'll need:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese softened
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 pre-made pie crust or one of your own making

Preheat the oven to 350*. Precook the pie shell for about ten minutes, or just until it starts to brown.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger (I left this out... though I said I was getting tired of pumpkin in my last post, I wonder if it's really all the spices that I'm getting tired of? Ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. Over and over and over again.), and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

I made this pie early, Thanksgiving morning. It was served at around 3:30ish... and it was gooooooood -- like A- kind of good.

Took the leftovers home and like any thankful pilgrim, the next morning pulled out the pie plate and called it breakfast. Not good. Not good at all -- like D+ kind of not good. The half tub of Cool-Whip piled on top, was great. The pie, not so much.

So if you decide to make this recipe, make sure you make-serve-and-eat it, all in the same day. You'll enjoy the custard-y kind of texture with mild spice, that plays well with the crisp crust and creamy whipped topping. I promise! Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 17: Pumpkin Cake Truffles

Cake balls. Cake truffles. Little drops of heaven. Sweet goodness.

Whatever you wanna call them... they'll respond.

I'm in a bit of a time crunch. So I did that which is deplorable. That which might get me kicked out of the cooking blog-o-sphere. That which causes me to hang my head in shame (but not too heavily)...

I used a cake mix. *gasp*

I know. Let the flogging begin.

Now that you're over it, this is how I got it done (and on a holiday, none the less!).

What you'll need:

1 Yellow cake mix and everything it calls for (like the oil and eggs) but NOT the water
2 Cups of pumpkin puree
1/2 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 Cups vanilla or buttercream frosting
Dipping chocolate

Bake cake until the top bounces back. Turn the cake out and crumble it up. While it's still hot, add one can of premade frosting or approximately 2 Cups of your favorite homemade stuff. Mix this together until you can't see any of the frosting left. Seal it in an airtight container and let it cool completely; you can even throw it in the freezer if you're getting impatient.

When you're ready and the cake has cooled, shape the cake into balls and throw them back in the freezer. I suggest using a plate, rather than actually throwing them.. but you do whatever tickles your fancy. While they sit in the freezer (and think about what they've done), melt some dipping chocolate.

Now the fun begins! Dip your pumpkin cake balls into the chocolate and let harden. You might want to double dip them for that great, extra crunch!

I give these a B... I think you'll start to see a trend with the B's. I'm beginning to tire of pumpkin. I hate to say it, but it's true. Brett would give these a B-/C+... he's actually more tired of pumpkin, than I. But my Dad gives them a B+... and that makes me smile, on this Thanksgiving eve, as I sit in my parents home with a full tummy, Mom clanking away in the kitchen, and my Dad munching on my Pumpkin Cake Truffles/Cake Balls.... Rest well turkey lovers! And may you dream of pumpkin pie!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 16: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I must be distracted today. I left the eggs out of my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. Made myself an egg-less bread. Your welcome, vegetarians. (Because of course, that's totally what I was going for.)

I'm nervous I guess, about the highly anticipated pumpkin pie... THE pumpkin pie... that I'm bringing to the Thompson's Thanksgiving dinner down in West Plains. (A shout out to my hommies in the WP! Let's get our Thanks-shivel on!)

I shouldn't try to pull that off, should I? Anyway...

Here's what you'll need:

4 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
2 Cups sugar
3/4 Cups softened butter
4 EGGS... don't leave these out, okay
1/2 Cup water
2 Cups pumpkin puree
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because it's what I had on hand)
Handful of chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix all dry ingredients (except pecans and chocolate) together and set aside. Whip butter and sugar until smooth. ADD THE DADGUM EGGS one at a time until fully incorporated. Add water and pumpkin puree and mix on low until fully incorporated.

Add your dry ingredients and mix until wet. Add chocolate chips. Pour into pans (2) that are greased only on the bottom. I learned today, that if you only grease the bottom of your pan and not the sides, you won't get a "lip" on your bread. Interesting.

Top with a sprinkle of chocolate chips, crushed pecans and a teaspoon of sugar for each loaf. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This is the picture of the bread still in the pan.

Because I couldn't get it out of the pan. And that's because I only buttered the bottom. But hey, at least my bread didn't have a "lip."

At first taste, I would have given it a B, B-... but this evening, following dinner, I tried it again and the flavours seemed to meld, bumping its rating up to a B, B+. Not bad for an unintentionally eggless bread without a lip.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Apologizing in Advance...

So, I've gone back and forth about posting these pictures... and normally, I don't take the cheap "potty humour" shot. I'd rather my humour be classically cynical and demoralizing. But I'm all out of material today... and having just gotten home from work and multiple stores, I don't have the energy to cook. And you know, the fans and groupies need something. (Geeze, it's like the Twilight premier outside my door... I'm always "No autographs from the pumpkin lady today... go home Punkards. Nothin' to see here." And yet they persist.)

So if you find the suggestion of poop offensive... please, avert thine eyes. Otherwise, carry on.

What makes these photographs even funnier (at least to me), is that BOTH my Mother and my Father sent me separate emails containing these guys... unbeknownst to each other (I'm assuming). Now my Dad, I can kind of expect this sort of thing... but my Mom?! Yeah! That threw me for a poop... I mean loop!

But in the spirit of the season of giving thanks... and spending two days cooking a meal that lasts 15 minutes... and seeing family you love and tolerating the others... and the baking of more pumpkin pies in one day than most countries bake in one year...

Here is how your pumpkin pie was made...

I love that spectacular grunt-face!

And the fact that this one is reading a Better Homes and Gardens type magazine cracks me up!!!

Now see... didn't you at least crack (Ha, ha, ha! Everytime I say crack... ha, ha, ha!) the tiniest of smiles?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Take That, Libby's.

The Wall Street Journal and just about every other news outlet, has reported a version of the article found below. I find it almost humorous that my freezer "overfloweth" when there is apparently a shortage among the great pumpkin giant, lovingly known as Libby's (via Nestle foods). Note that places like Whole Foods, HyVee, Trader Joes, and other smaller brands of regular and organic pumpkin puree are still available. So, take that, great pumpkin growing, conglomerate farming, corporate meanies. Or something else, a little less insensitive...

Here's the story as written in the Wall Street Journal:

By Kelly Evans

It’s every baker’s worst holiday fear: you head to the grocery store (last-minute, despite your best efforts) for ingredients to whip up your famous pumpkin pie — but there is no pumpkin left on the shelves.

That nightmare is now becoming a reality for shoppers across the country — and for companies like Nestle, which owns the Libby’s brand of pumpkin pie and announced this week that heavy rain has hurt its pumpkin farms in Morton, Ill., to the point that it will not pack any more pumpkins this year.

“Our calculations indicate that we may deplete our inventory of canned Libby’s pumpkin as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Paul Bakus, vice president and general manager of Nestle Baking, in a press release.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Nestle controls 85% of the pumpkin crop for canning. Grocery stores believe they will have enough pumpkin on their shelves through Thanksgiving, but caution supplies could run out before the rest of the holiday season — particularly if shoppers begin hoarding the canned fruit.

The New York Times notes it could be a boon for the organic pumpkin industry, which makes up only 3-4% of the total market but had a good crop this year in places like Oregon and could help fill the gap. (Some of their commenters, by the way, suspect the whole shortage is a marketing ploy.)

“We had the wettest October in history and that made for a bad harvest season,” John Hawkins, spokesman for the Illinois Farm Bureau, told Newsday.

According to the Census Bureau, Illinois led the country in pumpkin production last year, producing 496 million pounds of the orange gourd, followed by California, Pennsylvania and New York. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states in 2008 was $141 million, Census reports.

There are a couple alternatives for those who can’t get their hands on pumpkin this year: they can make their own, get their pumpkin fix in beer form, or try their hand at sweet potato or pecan pie instead. As the Consumerist blog notes “If you can’t get any canned pumpkin, you can also go to your farmer’s market and buy some butternut squash. Roast it in the oven and use just like the good ol’ canned stuff.”

According to the Labor Department, the cost of other ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner — such as turkey — are lower this year than last, which perhaps leaves some room in the budget for experimentation.
On another note, the pumpkin I once couldn't GIVE away... is now in high demand. How much SHOULD I charge per cup? ;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 15: Pumpkin Waffles

Came across a blog today, called Pumpkin Waffles Blog. The whole blog is about waffles, specifically, pumpkin waffles. There's history, photography, and recipes. Can you imagine... a whole blog about one thing? I mean really, how lame is that? Like you've got nothing else to think about except waffles. Like anyone would really care... *cough* Uhhhhh... so...moving on... kettle.

Woke up this morning and decided it was time... time to conquer the waffle iron. If you'd like to join me in my battle, this is...
What you'll need (per the Pumpkin Waffle guy):
1/4 Cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoons salt
1 3/4 Teaspoons cinnamon
2 Teaspoons ginger (used 1 Tsp)
1/4 Teaspoons cloves (bleah)
1/2 Teaspoons nutmeg
2 Large eggs
1 Cup whole milk (only had half and half on hand -- seriously, you know you live in a health conscious environment, when the only dairy product you can find in your fridge, is half and half!)
1 Cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (used my puree, of course)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm

Lightly oil the waffle iron with vegetable oil, and set it to the desired temperature. Go ahead and melt your butter in the microwave. Combine brown sugar and cornstarch and remaining dry ingrediants in a large bowl and whisk to blend.
Separate eggs: yolks go in a medium sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl. Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.

Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form – about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.

Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added. Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.

Once the waffle iron is heated, you’re ready to pour the batter.

Yummers. So good you'll wish you had a second stomach. Cakey and sweet (no real need for syrup) but not heavy. Lovely. I give these an A, and Brett gives them a very solid B.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Brett, how can you possibly give these a B?
Brett: It's a solid B. A good solid B.
Me: But these are so yummy.
Brett: But that's above average.
Me: (mumbling under my breath) Can't believe you give them a B.
Brett: Can I put them up there with the lasagna or the cheesecake? No. We can't just be throwin' A's about, willy nilly.
Me: Well, call me willy... cause I give them an A.

Enjoy... and have a happy Saturday morning!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 14: Pumpkin Scones

I could so, be British.

Let's face it... I'm like Victoria Beckham (aka, Posh Spice), except without the great shoes. Or free wardrobe. Or personal trainer, smokin' body, and perpetual tan. Or the chefs, nannys (even though I don't have children, sure would be nice to have one), maids, or chauffeurs. Or the paparazzi. Or the accent.

But other than that... I'm practically Victoria Beckham. For instance.... I like tea. And once, when I flew home from seminary, when I got off the plane, my Mom took a picture of me. Oh, and every now and then, I watch soccer.

See.. we're just alike.

But I think what really makes me want to call upon the Brits and question my heritage, is my love of scones. And in particular, Pumpkin Scones.

Unfortunately, these didn't turn out perfectly. They have the texture of a soft, cake-like cookie. What I'm finding is, that when you use the homemade pumpkin puree, it tends to have more moisture in it, thus, textures aren't true to the recipe.

How do you fix this? Am I an errant blogger to admit, that I have no idea? I've found that the excess moisture tends to separate from the puree when it's in the refrigerator -- so I pour that "juice" off right away. And I read somewhere, that if you let your pumpkin drain in a dish towel overnight, it will take care of the moisture. Huh, yeah. That sounds a little tedious. I've tried to throw the pumpkin puree in the microwave, but that just sort of made it tough. So... all that's to say, I don't have any real solutions, other than adding more flour to your recipes. And, you're welcome.


What you'll need:

2 1/2-3 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
6 Tablespoons cream cheese, cut into chunks
3/4 Cup pumpkin
1/2 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 345*. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the butter chunks and blend until pea-size crumbs form. Just get in there with your hands and rub them around. Add the cream cheese and do the same thing. In another bowl, whisk pumpkin and other wet ingredients together. Add this to the flour mixture and stir just until dough is evenly moistened.

Scrape onto a lightly floured counter, turn over to coat, and gently knead just until dough comes together, 5 or 6 turns. Pat dough into a 6-inch round 1 1/2 inches thick; cut into 6 equal wedges with a pizza cutter. Separate wedges and bake for about 13-15 minutes.

I give these a B- and my husband gave them a B-ish. If I hadn't been wanting to make scones... and had wanted a cake-like cookie... they would have gotten a B+. But as it stands, it wasn't a successful recipe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 13: Pumpkin Biscotti

My Life in Metaphor:

(Note to the males out there - namely, my Dad - this "metaphor" will be referring to under-garments. Specific reference will be made to braziers. So proceed with caution.)

I need to do laundry. But because I've chosen to bake, instead of washing and drying the 10 loads of laundry waiting for me, my choice of undergarments are limited. Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. The granny-pants, the holy socks, the bra you wore back in '87, tucked in the back of the drawer... we've all got that drawer.

This morning, I pulled out that 1987 beauty (who am I kidding... '97... in '87 I was still reading Judy Blume). In a whirl I threw it on and flew out the door. It wasn't until I was 20 minutes into my drive to work, that I realized...the underwire of my bra was poking me. Such realizations do not bode well, for the day.

It continued to poke into my side for six straight hours. At hour six, I finally reached in and yanked that sucker out. Instant relief. This is a metaphor for my life.

But then I was lopsided. You know what I mean, right. So I had to forcibly cut the other underwire out, though it was working perfectly. Needed symmetry. This is a metaphor for my life.

Now I sag. Not a lot... I AM still in my thirties. But a little... and my underwire-free bra is bragging. This is a metaphor of my life.

And so I sit... coffee in one hand, biscotti in the other, sagging for the world to see, wondering why it takes me so long to yank those suckers out when they bother me? I dip one end of my Pumpkin Biscotti in to my coffee and inhale... life is good. Not so much a metaphor, but my reality.

What you'll need:

3+ Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup of sugar
1 Teaspoon of baking powder
1 Teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon ginger
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of salt
2 Eggs
3/4 Cup of pumpkin puree
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Stir just enough to generally incorporate the ingredients. You may need to add some more flour here... it ought to have a nice crumble to it.

Flour your hands and knead the dough either in the bowl or on the counter. Line your baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease. Shape the dough into a large log, roughly about 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches. The loaves should be relatively flat, only about 1/2 inch high. Bake for 22-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch. Let biscotti cool for 15 minutes and then using a serrated knife cut into 1 inch wide pieces. Turn the oven to 300* and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Separate the pieces and drizzle with chocolate. (Biscotti may be chewy initially, so don't be afraid to leave it uncovered, overnight, in a dry space.)

I give these an A... my husband gives them a B+. This is a metaphor for my life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 12: Pumpkin Roll

Day three. Still no end in sight, to my dishwasher-less plight... (Hey! That rhymed!)

The days are bad - I won't deny it - but the morning light helps shed a little hope on our situation. We can turn our heads, play like the dirty dishes aren't there... walk out the door to our day jobs.

But the nights... oh, the nights... they are the worst. The dishes teeter precariously on the edge of the counter. The evenings milk glasses taunt me from the dinner table. And then... there's the sound of hot running water, the soap bubbles in my eyes, the pruned hands that no longer look like my own... *sniff*

This, I come home to.

I find some comfort in knowing that others before me, have overcome these deplorable conditions. I shall live another day to see clean dishes and a working dishwasher. When that day will come... I do not know... but I SHALL, see that day. (Picture me, standing in a dress made from curtains, holding up a radish...yeah, that's how sincere I am.)
Yeah, so things have been a little rough around here lately. I kid of course... I KNOW I'm blessed to have water, let alone hot water that comes on when I want it to and is clean enough to drink straight from the tap. All sarcasm aside, I do know how lucky I am.

But it has made me consider using copious amounts of butter and/or oil in everything that I cook -- you know, so that things don't stick. Not because it makes things so yummy.

So today, I decided to try my hand at a Pumpkin Roll. Ironically enough, the recipe came off of a can of Libby's pumpkin puree! AND doesn't use a single drop of oil or butter!


What you'll need:

1/4 Cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground cloves (yuck.)
1/4 Teaspoon salt
3 Large eggs
1 Cup granulated sugar
2/3 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


1 Pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan (I don't even know what a jelly roll pan is... so just use a rimmed cookie sheet); line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. I always wish there was a camera on me, when I do this. I have no doubt, that my facial expressions are priceless. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Let cook completely.

Filling: Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in mixer bowl until smooth. Fold in your chopped nuts. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

What grade do I give this Pumpkin Roll? It's a classic... a solid B.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 11: Coconut-Pumpkin Bisque

I hate to say it... but this might be another fail. Bleh.

I don't profess culinary savvy. I don't know the difference between icing and frosting. I don't even really know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, even though I love both. I don't own a baster or know when to use those horse hair paint brushy things that you can buy from Williams Sonoma (I own two). And I can't tell you the difference between a soup and bisque.

What I can tell you is this: I won't be making Coconut Pumpkin Bisque again. It had the consistency of cat puke and smelled a little like it, too. Not good. I mean that. Maybe if I couldn't smell it or see it, it would have been okay. But apparently, part of the culinary experience, is using all of your senses to experience food. I did not like this experience.

But if you've lost your sense of smell (and if you have, I'm sorry) and eat with the lights turned off, you might like this, so...

What you'll need:

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 1 /2 cups (about) canned unsweetened coconut milk
Ground nutmeg

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice and crushed red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. Sometime during the simmering process is when it starts to smell like a cat. Thin with coconut milk to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with nutmeg. I did all of this. And it still wasn't good.

I found this recipe on I give it a D. I don't give food a D. I love food... even bad food. But this... I give a D. And I think that's generous.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 10: Pumpkin Yeast Bread... FAIL.

Epic. Failures.

That is the theme for today.

You know those super-cool spicy pumpkin marshmallows I made? I tried to make those into rice crispie treats last night. One trip to the store, one full box of rice crispies, and 35 wasted marshmallows later...FAIL.

Decided I'd had enough and went to bed, but not before turning on the dishwasher... which apparently is broken and in the night, decided it was the perfect opportunity to showcase it's ineptness. Two hours, fifteen tools, and a couple of under-the-breath "praise Jesus'" later (or something decidedly less holy)... FAIL.

That's fine. That's okay. I'll redeem myself with Pumpkin Yeast Bread. It's a family recipe... Mom's been making this yeast bread (minus the pumpkin) for years. What could go wrong? Well, I'm pretty sure dough isn't supposed to be runny after six cups of flour. FAIL.

This is a picture (albeit, a poor one) of how it turned out:

Before I write out the recipe, read now, the reviews...

"It has the consistency of a brick," said my loving husband. "But the flavor is yummy!."

My Father replies, "That's okay, Jethro used to use Ellie May's rolls to take down opossums." Insinuations abound.

And my Mother, ever supportive, says "This is your first time making a yeast bread... maybe you should have started with something easier." The confidence that my family has in me, is overwhelming.

But the flavor really IS yummy, and if your neighborhood is overrun with rodents, you might thank me later. So I'm going to go ahead and print the recipe as I made it, and will preface it to say, that it is a work in progress.

What you'll need:

1 Packet of yeast
1 Cup warm water
1 Cup milk
1 Cup sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
1/4 Cup oil
1/4 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Egg
6 Cups flour
2 Well buttered bread pans

Preheat your oven to 375*. Add together the first five ingredients and let stand about five minutes. Using a hand mixer, add oil, egg, and three cups flour until smooth. (By this time, you should be feeling some major resistance with your hand mixer. I did not. In fact, I added three more cups of flour, and it had the general consistency of cake batter.)

You should: Add three more cups of flour by hand and knead on flour covered counter top. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a large bowl, and cover it with a towel. Let it sit until it doubles in size. Punch it down, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide into two pans and cook at 375* for 25-35 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 9: Spicy Pumpkin Marshmallows

Many months ago, I saw Martha Stewart make marshmallows. My first thought… why? Why, would anyone take the time and the effort to make their own marshmallows, when Jet-Puffed puts out a perfectly good bag of sweet treats that are not only convenient, but taste yummy in hot cocoa and rice crispy bars? I mean really, only Martha Stewart could make something as simple as the marshmallow, difficult.

But then I got to thinkin’ this morning, wouldn’t it be great to make pumpkin marshmallows? Honestly, I don’t know what came over me… it’s like I was abducted by aliens. It’s ridiculous.

But yet, here I go.

What you’ll need:

About 1 cup cornstarch
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce Packets unflavored gelatin
3 Large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 Cup cold water
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ginger
Pinches of nutmeg and allspice

Before you even get started: Line a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper (NOT for sissies) and dust the paper generously with cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer ready.

I had started the process – sugar, water and corn syrup were ready to go – when I realized I didn’t have a candy thermometer. I do, however, have three (THREE!) meat thermometers. It’s good to know that there will be no undercooked meat in my house.

So, I took my unshowered, no makeup, sweatpant wearin’ self to Target and bought one. I’m pretty sure the “guard” (who was like, nine years old) at the front of the store, thought I was there to rob the place. He followed me to cookware and ducked not-so-discretely behind the roasting pans… who knew that candy thermometers where such highly pilfered items? Let’s continue…

Whisk together 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, you will fold in the spiced pumpkin with a rubber spatula. Set aside.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265* on the candy thermometer or about 10 minutes.While the syrup is cooking, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in the microwave for 30 seconds to liquefy it.

Working with a dry bowl and a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy. As soon as the syrup reaches 265*, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring slowly between the beaters and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another few minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Add the vanilla. Don't worry, this marshmallow madness is coming to an end. Add the pumpkin mixture and incorporate it by folding it in with the rubber spatula.Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the baking sheet. Then spread it into the corners.

Dust the top of the marshmallows with cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pizza cutter. Have a big bowl with the remaining cornstarch (and maybe some powered sugar mixed in) on hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like. As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got several marshmallows in the bowl, turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then one by one, toss the marshmallows to shake off the excess starch.

These were good. They really were. I give them a solid A; tasted like really spicy marshmallows, which is what we were going for. But I've just got one more thing to say...

That Martha Stewart... she's nuts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 8: Italian Night

Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think, “Italian?”


Meatballs (which always reminds me of the Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler).

Al Dente (i.e. undercooked) noodles.

The Tower of Pisa (otherwise known as home to the worlds most original “look ma, I’m holdin’ up the tower of pizza!” photograph).

Shoes (of which I own, not one pair. I mean, yes, I own shoes... I may live in Missouri, but we DO wear shoes… just none of them are of Italian descent).

Maybe you picture the beautiful, dark haired, smouldering eyed men and women of the country (of which I have absolutely NO relation to, evident by my neon white skin, mousy brown hair, and close set eyes).

Or like me, your mind went first, to pumpkin.

Uh-huh. That’s right. I got in touch with my inner-Italian and made myself some Pumpkin Lasagna. Now strap on your apron, crank up Andrea Bocelli, and start crushing some tomatoes… cause we gots to make'a some'a da lasagna!

(Yes, I’m ooooozing sarcasm. In no way, am I assuming that all Italians look beautiful, talk like sitcom New Yorkers, or listen to the Victoria Secret soundtrack .)

Now seriously, strap on that apron… I’m wearing a white t-shirt, that looks like it was in a bar fight, ‘cause I didn’t take my own advice…

What you’ll need:

1 Cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Medium onion, chopped
4 to 6 Cloves garlic, sliced (I used minced)
1 Pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (I used ground turkey sausage)
1/2 Cup red wine
1 28-ounce Can tomato sauce (I didn't have any in the house, so I combined a can of tomato paste and a can of diced tomatoes and threw it in a blender.)
1/4 Cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
Ground pepper
1 16-ounce Box lasagna noodles
1 Large egg
2 1/2 Cups ricotta cheese
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 Cup shredded romano cheese
1 Large zucchini, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 more minutes. Add the sausage/turkey and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Throw back the rest of the bottle and see if you care what comes next. Stir in the tomato sauce and herbs and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Since I'm on this health kick, I used whole wheat noodles. Add the lasagna noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and toss with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.

Mix the pumpkin puree with the egg in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and the romano. By now, after a bottle of wine, you may just want to sit down to a nice big bowl of cheese. Don't worry, no judgement here.

Build your lasagna in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish: Start with a layer of sauce, then top with a layer of noodles. Evenly spread half of the pumpkin filling, then half of the zucchini, over the noodles. Top with half of the cheese mixture and cover with some of the sauce. Repeat the layers, finishing with noodles and sauce; sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

This was my first hand-made lasagna. And to be honest, I was a little leery... I'm one of those people who actually likes the "28 pounds of meat and cheese we call lasagna" that you can get at Sam's for $9.89. So starting with a lasagna made of pumpkin gave me pause, but....

That thing was GOOOOOOOOOOD! Definitely an A from both the hubby and me...the sweetness of the pumpkin plays off of the spice in the turkey sausage, so that you forget that there's pumpkin in it. A delightful dish from Robert Irvine of the Food Network. Apparently, they know what they're doing over there! Yum!

A Little Background

Me, 1981. This is when it all began... (don't you just love the dark paneling!)

Having a hard time finding cooking inspiration today... thinking maybe pumpkin lasagna or a pumpkin yeast bread, but my motivation to dirty my very clean kitchen, is diminishing. And I find myself dreaming about garlic and porkchops, thick crusted pizza and simple dinner salads. None of which, include the use of pumpkin puree. Hummm...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 7: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tire quickly of health food... thus, my model good looks, that I referenced earlier.

I mean seriously, who really wants a whole wheat muffin, when you can have two sticks of butter and a cup and a half of sugar (I'm pretty sure we call that a cookie)?

I used to babysit a kid who liked to gnaw on sticks of butter.

Now before you contort your face in disgust, judging this baby's mother mercilessly, and consider shutting down your computer to fix yourself a wheatgerm and spinach smoothie (just so you can feel better about yourself) consider this...

There are approximately 91 grams of fat in a stick of butter. Yes, I know... that's a hefty number (in more ways than one).


A hot dog has approximately 18 grams of fat. Times that by 8 in the package... you do the math. I'm tired. A side note: On Halloween, Sonic had their corndogs for 50 cents... (yes, you read correctly; a whole 50 cents cheaper than normal!!!) Do I really need to go into detail about how excited I was, or can I leave it to your imagination?

And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which I ate for lunch today -- what AM I? A five year old?) has 14 grams of fat (average sandwich). Times that by 5 school days...

Suddenly, a stick or two of butter doesn't sound so bad. So the next time you're in a hurry and have to get little Johnny off to the school bus... consider sending him out with a stick of butter, wrapped in festive saran wrap... all the other kids will be jealous, and it's really quite a time saver.

Send him with half a dozen of the best cookies EVER! I give you...Pumpkin Chocolate Chip.

What you'll need:

2 Sticks of butter (room temperature) -- stealing from little Johnny is bad, but it's totally worth it to make these cookies.
1 Cup white sugar
1 Cup light brown sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Cups pumpkin puree
3 Cups all-purpose flour (none of that whole-wheat patooey, here!)
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ginger
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon ground cloves (Yuck. Left this out.)
2 Cups mild chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. For the love of Pete... do this. I didn't. I thought, "parchment paper is for sissies." Well, as it turns out, I'm a sissy. I spent the greater part of the morning, trying to get 12 cookies off of my favorite cookie sheet, and was left with a pile of lifeless cookie parts and crumbs which, thankfully, my dogs devoured. So, line your pans with parchment paper. And I promise not to call you a sissy. Moving on.

Beat butter until fluffy, adding sugars until the mixture is light in color. Beat in the eggs then mix in vanilla and pumpkin. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter. Fold in the chocolate making sure to set aside a handful for yourself. Just sayin'.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies have browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let the cookies "rest" for about two minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

These cookies will turn out nice and soft... almost cake-like. I give them an A, and my husband shared them with church folks last night... and considering they ate all the cookies AND the containers they came in... I'm assuming they'd give them an A as well. They're full of flavor and simply yummy. So wrap a few up in festive saran wrap and call it day. Your job, as a parent or caregiver, is done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 6: Pumpkin Pomegranate Muffins

Dear Pomegranate,

Let's face it, you were an impulse buy. By the register. Worse, you were on sale.

Before I knew it, we were in my hand basket -- I was grabbed by your beauty, your shiny exterior, your promise -- and the fine folks at Whole Foods were asking me if I'd like a "how to" manual. I scoffed. A "how to" manual? Do I look like a novice?

I hurriedly stuffed the manual in my coat pocket and bolted for the door.

Now you sit on my counter... and we are at an impasse. I'm cooking with pumpkin now. Not pomegranate. You somehow, must be married to pumpkin... because that's all I know. So do me well, dear Pomegranate, and I will return the favor...

Peace, t


After my exceedingly glutenous previous posts, I figured it was time for something that has at least an iota of nutritional value. I give you... Pumpkin Pomegranate Muffins. These guys are made with whole wheat flour, no butter or oil, one little egg, and lots of pumpkin and pomegranate avrils. Not bad for a muffin.

What you'll need:

1 Cup all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1/4 Cup Grape-Nuts cereal (or similar cereal)
1/2 Cup sugar (or Splenda - I used organic raw sugar)
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
(I added a teaspoon of vanilla)
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1 Cup fat-free buttermilk
1 Egg, beaten
Seeds of one pomegranate

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Combine all the wet ingredients and whisk together (another great thing... don't have to drag out the mixer!). Add the baking soda and powder, whisk. Add sugar, cereal, and whole wheat flour and whisk to combine. Put the all-purpose flour in bowl, but before you combine, pour your drained pomegranate seeds on top and lightly coat them with flour. Then gently combine the seeds and flour with the rest of the ingredients. Bake in a well greased muffin pan (or use cupcake papers) for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I found this recipe at the but can't figure out who to attribute it to, other than "picclo".

They're good. Not great, but good. They're sort of what you expect when you use whole wheat flour and no butter. The pomegranate gives a lovely crunch to the muffin, and despite the fact that there aren't a ton of spices, there's quite a bit of flavor. I'd give it a B, B+.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Feeling a Little Too Skinny Lately?

How many times a day, do you say to yourself... "Geeze, I'm getting skinny."

Or, "Golly, my cholesterol's a little low... better work on that."

And if I had a penny for all the times I've caught myself thinking, "I'm too healthy... I better not work out today..." well, you know, I'd have some change in my pocket (let's face it, pennies don't add up very quickly).

So if you're like me, and people are constantly coming up to you and asking if you're a supermodel or a yoga instructor...

I've got the perfect answer.

Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Cheesecake Balls (on a stick, so they're more fun!)

Yep. Took the Pumpkin Cheesecake, and MADE IT EVEN MORE FATTENING... er, I mean delicious... by covering it in chocolate! (Does it matter that I used dark chocolate?!)

If you've never been to Bakerella, you're missing out. She has one of the most creative and inspiring blogs that I read. She is, The Cakepop Master. And after spending two hours this afternoon, trying to force cheesecake into a ball, I have much respect for the master. Believe me. Let's just say, I had one lonely cheesecake pop to photograph... because that's the one lonely cheesecake pop that turned out. So I threw a bow on it, and called it Fancy.

If you wanna give it a whirl, I'm going to direct you over to Bakerella and let her explain how to make it happen. I'd give these a C just for the labor intensive nature of it all; but my husband gave it an A+! They DO taste good.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 5: Pumpkin Cheescake

Some foods look lovely, but don't taste very good. Example: fruit filled jello molds.

Some things don't look great, but taste like heaven. Example: any casserole that involves cheese and sour cream.

And then, there are those dishes that look great, taste great, and make you wanna put elastic wastebands in all of your pants.

Example: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thank you Paula Deen.

What you'll need:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar (Didn't have any, so I used Raw Sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used more like 1/2 Tablespoon)
1 stick melted salted butter (I only used 6 Tablespoons)

3 (8-ounce) Packages cream cheese, room temperature (I used two packages reduced fat, one regular)
1 (15-ounce) Can pureed pumpkin (or in this case, 2 1/4 Cups puree)
3 Eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 Cup sour cream (I used reduced fat sour cream -- NOT fat free)
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon ground cloves (you know how I feel about cloves, so I used 1/8 Teas. allspice)
2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*.

For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. To prevent butter drippage, I suggest covering the bottom with foil, like so:

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Then strap on the sweat pants and dig in!

Here's my husband, trying his first bite (you know, because everybody likes to have their picture taken, when they're eating):

We both give this cheesecake a standing A-vation! Great texture (smooth and creamy), mild pumpkin flavor (with a bit of tang from the sour cream), and yummy crust. Try this... and invite me over... I'll wear sweats so you won't feel bad. Or maybe I'll wear sweats, 'cause nothing else fits. Whatever.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 4: Pumpkin Pi with Walnut and Brown-Sugar Topping

A six year old at my church, told me the following joke:

Question: What's the ratio of a pumpkin's circumference to its diameter?
Answer: Pumpkin Pi

Let's forget about the joke for a minute, and wonder.... when you were six, were you using words likes circumference and diameter? Seriously? Or was I just THAT far behind everyone else?

Now as far as the joke goes.... I'm not sure it's the funniest one I've ever heard from this particular kids mouth... but it DOES make for a great lead into today's post!

Pumpkin "Pi" with Brown Sugar-Walnut Topping

What you'll need:

1 Deep "pi" crust (I don't judge... use a store bought one.)

For "pi":
1 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 Large eggs
1/2 Teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 Teas)
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves (I can't stand cloves, so I used 1/4 Teas Allspice)
(I also added 1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg)
1 Cup pureed pumpkin
1 Cup heavy whipping cream

Heat your oven to 350*. Prebake your frozen crust for about 15 minutes or until golden brown; I suggest putting it on a cookie sheet for easier handling down the road.

For your "pi" -- combine sugar, eggs, and all the spices on low with your hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and the whipping cream and beat on high for about a minute. Pour filling into crust. It will be FULL (hence, the need for the cookie sheet). The recipe says to bake for 30 minutes. That's a funnier joke than what the six year old told... I had that baking for about an hour and 35 minutes before I put the topping on it.

For the topping:

Combine 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. When your "pi" has cooked long enough to be firm, sprinkle your topping evenly over the top. Return to the oven and reduce the temperature to 325*. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the "pi" is set and slightly puffed up in the center.

If at any point, your crust begins to burn, you can cover the edges with foil.

I didn't love this "pi." I'd probably give it a B, B- and my husband would probably give it a solid B. The pumpkin "pi" filling part, was delish! But I wasn't a fan of the brown sugar topping... too sweet (a gasp fills the room... never did they imagine that Trish would name something "too sweet"). I suspect the theory is, that the brown sugar melts into the "pi" (is that getting old yet? No?) like this:

See that dark area in the middle... that's yummy. The crunchy, grainy, brown sugar on top... not so much.

But alas, it did not keep me from eating my pi...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 3: Southwest Pumpkin Soup

You know you live in Arizona (and I can say this, cause we used to live there) when:

The best parking spot is determined by shade instead of distance. You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron. The temperature drops below 95 and you start to feel a little chilly. You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car. You break into a sweat the instant you step outside... and its only 7:30 a.m. The idea of running out to the car without putting your shoes on... is absurd. And when you need to cool down, you stand behind the motorcycle exhaust for some reprieve. And then...

...there's this soup. It's hot. It's Arizona hot.

And spicy... like J.Lo spicy. The recipe was originally printed in Bon Appetit in the most recent issue... but I've made so many changes, that I'll just write out how I made it, and let you look up the original yourself!

What you'll need:

5 Cups organic chicken broth
2 Cups half and half
2 Teaspoons brown sugar
3 Teaspoons cumin
2 1/4 Teaspoons chili powder
1 Teaspoon coriander
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg (don't leave this out!!)
1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
2 Chilpotle peppers (chopped) in adobo sauce plus 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce

2 1/4 Cups pumpkin puree!!!

Sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro (for garnish)

Bring chicken stock, half and half, sugar, and all spices (including peppers and adobo sauce) to a boil. Whisk in pumpkin and reduce head to simmer. Cook about 25 minutes, whisking every five minutes or so. Ladle into bowls and serve with sharp cheddar cheese and cilantro.

Note: If you don't like things spicy, reduce the chili powder to 1 1/4 Teaspoon and cut down to one chilpotle pepper.

I give this an A for flavor and texture. It's a little thin, but dunk some crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich in it, and it's Divine! My husband would probably give it an A- because the spice gave him the undereye sweats. And that made his makeup run. (I'm kidding! Geeze!)

What Does It Take To Puree A Pumpkin?

If you've never pureed a pumpkin, let me be the first to say... the "can" is a lot easier. And I hate to admit it, but it pretty much tastes the same too.

But now honestly, do you feel as accomplished? As connected to your forefathers and foremothers? As "salted to the earth?" As domestic? When you simply lift the lever on your automatic can opener and wait 30 seconds for the tell-tale click of readiness? No. I don't think so.

So pull your sleeves up... and let's get started.

First, pick out pumpkins that are small. The most recommended pumpkins, are called Sugar Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins. Pick ones that are deep orange with few blemishes and no soft spots. Remove the stems and slice them in half. Clean out the guts with an ice cream scoop or a metal tablespoon:

They should look a lot like this:

Line them up on a cookie sheet with a lip, and add one or two cups of water. Just pour it right on top of the pumpkin halves. Stick them in an oven that's set at 350* like so:

These guys will cook for about 55 minutes, and when you take them out, they'll be floppy and soft, and look a little something like this:

Scrape all the goodness out of the middle and throw it all into a very large bowl. You'll need all that extra room to control the splatters. And yes, I use the word "control," loosely. Make sure you don't get any of the rind... and if you find some of the pumpkin to be tough, just pull it out.

Using a hand mixer, puree until smooth... you shouldn't be able to see the fibers anymore. I hand mixed for about 3-5 minutes depending what type of pumpkin was being pureed.

You can freeze pureed pumpkin for up to six months! And if you're wondering what 80 some-odd pumpkins looks like after its been whipped into submission and stored away like last years fashions? Well, it looks a lot like 50 some-odd cups of orange goo, crammed into every plastic container I own: