Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creative ways to use your leftovers: Pumpkins & Pumpkin Bread

Remove the skin. It's really easy--it just peels right off when the pumpkin is still warm. Place pumpkin pieces in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water and puree. You may have to do this in a couple batches.

Part Two: Pumpkin Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée (prepared above)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light margarine
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together the flours, salt, sugar and baking soda in a small bowl.
2. Mix the pumpkin, oil, margarine, eggs, water and spices together in a large bowl. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Fold in the nuts.
3. Pour into two 9x5 inch loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean (mine took 70 minutes). Gently turn out of the pan, using a knife for assistance, and let cool on a rack.

This recipe makes two loaves. The product was fantastic and it refrigerates and freezes very well. Mini loaves would make an excellent holiday gift! 

Leftover pumpkins? Sure they made excellent holiday decorations, but they can be much more than that! If you've never cooked with fresh pumpkin, that would make two of us. But this year I decided to give it a whirl (I'm always up for something new with food!). Here's two easy and delicious ways to use your fresh pumpkins: pumpkin bread and toasted pumpkin seeds.

In the past, my focus in cooking has not been baking (and I've never made pumpkin bread before), so I searched the internet for a recipe and discovered an excellent blog: Simply Recipes (love this site, by the way!). I modified the author's recipe slightly to cut down on some of the fat, so you'll see my version below. This was the first time I've made baked goods with olive oil and now it's something I will be sure to do again in the future. Why make the switch? Olive oil apparently provides a similar buttery taste in your product and its a fantastic source of monounsaturated (heart healthy) fats versus its counterpart, butter. Use extra virgin olive oil so that the olive flavor is less potent.

Start by preparing the pureed pumpkin. Don't worry; it's not difficult, but it does take a little time. So save this recipe for when you've got at least an hour to work in the kitchen (most of your time will be spent on the pumpkin puree). I pureed two pie pumpkins and ended up with 6 cups of pumpkin puree. That's enough for 6 loaves of bread! I used 2 cups in my recipe and froze the remainder in 2 cup portions for later. I'll be looking forward to more bread :)

Part One: Pumpkin Puree
If you remember what it's like to carve a pumpkin, you'll know it takes a little strength and a sharp knife. I found that it was easiest to make the first slice alongside the stem, then cut around the stem to remove it. Then I cut the largest part of the pumpkin into three sections and the smaller part into two, ending up with five sections.
Take a metal spoon and scrape out the seeds and "guts." Place them in a bowl to sort through later (will be used in toasted pumpkin seed recipe).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place pumpkin sections so they're not touching. Roast for about 45 minutes until the meat of the pumkin is soft (a fork should easily poke through). Remove from the oven and cool, just long enough for you to be able to handle it.