Pumpkins provide a vast array of opportunities for healthy and appetizing meals.

Pumpkins provide vast culinary delights

The following recipes are favourites that you are sure to enjoy.

I was wandering around Davison Orchards recently, taking in all of the colours and sights of the fall season, and couldn’t resist taking a photo of one of their gigantic piles of pumpkins.

Pumpkins and fall always go hand in hand with Thanksgiving and Halloween. The trouble is, that while a few pumpkins may be eaten at Thanksgiving, Halloween’s crop is usually tossed to the compost pile.

I use fresh ones left over at our local farms and stores following Halloween. There are so many great recipes for fresh pumpkin.

First though, if you’d like to use your pumpkins for baking,  do not peel, chop, or boil them as there will be far too much moisture in the final product. Cut your pumpkin in half. Clean out the seeds and pulp and then place both pieces, cut side down, on a parchment line cookie sheet. Bake at 325 to 350 F. until the pulp is soft and dry. Scoop out, puree, and you’re set to bake or freeze in measured amounts for a later time.

The following recipes are favourites I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Beef Stew In A Pumpkin

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 cup water

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

4 medium carrots, sliced

1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 pumpkin (10 to 12 pounds)

In a Dutch oven, brown meat in two tablespoons oil. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for two hours. Stir in bouillon and tomatoes.

Wash pumpkin; cut a six to eight inch circle around top stem. Remove top and set aside; discard seeds and loosen fibers from inside.  Place pumpkin in a shallow sturdy baking pan. Spoon stew into pumpkin and replace top. Brush outside of pumpkin with remaining oil. Bake at 325 for two hours or just until the pumpkin is tender (do not overbake). Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Yield: eight to 10 servings.




Pumpkin Carrot Soup

with mustard

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 cups  cubed peeled pumpkins or squashes

8 carrots, cubed

1 cup cubed and peeled potatoes

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 cups chicken stock

2 tbs.  Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp  pepper

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil; cook pumpkin, carrots, potato and onion, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 10 minutes.  Add stock and 1 cup  water; bring to boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Using immersion blender or in food processor or blender in batches, puree soup. Whisk in mustard, salt and pepper; cook over medium-low heat, stirring, just until heated through. (Make ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes Refrigerate until cold. Transfer to air-tight container and refrigerate for up to two days.) Garnish with parsley.



Pumpkin chocolate cupcakes

with pumpkin whipped cream

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup canned pumpkin (or baked and pureed)

1 tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cups softened butter

4 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

2/3 cups cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoons salt

Heat oven to 350 F.  In a small bowl combine buttermilk and pumpkin. Just mix together until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a mixer, beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Alternating, add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture.

Mix for one minute on low until fully combined. Using an ice cream scoop or one-quarter measuring cup, place batter in prepared cupcake pan.  Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Whipped Cream

1 cup pumpkin puree

1-2 cups powder sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all-spice

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Add heavy cream to a stand mixer and whip on med to medium high speed until soft peaks. (usually about two minutes).  While the cream is mixing, place pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and all-spice in a bowl. Stir until combined.

Once cream is at soft peak stage, add powder sugar in one-half cup at a time. After one cup, turn off mixer. Gently fold in pumpkin puree mixture to cream. If the consistency is not firm enough, add more powder sugar, about one-quarter cup at a time until you reach desired consistency. Pipe on to cupcakes. Wonderful.




Pumpkin sheet cake

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 cups solid-packed pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Creamy Cheese Frosting

2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, pumpkin, oil and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Pour into a greased 15-inch-by-10-inch-by-one-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting:  in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar. Spread over cake. Cover and store in refrigerator.


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