Thanksgiving is just around the corner, time to bake those pumpkins!
And before you dismiss the idea completely for its difficulty, I urge you to try it once if you haven't already. You just might become hooked once you eat a made-from-scratch pumpkin pie.
You need a pumpkin. Mine is a pie pumpkin, or small sugar pumpkin (photo 1), they are darker in color and sweeter than the large decorative pumpkins.
Cut the pumpkin in half, and remove all the seeds and strings. This is the hardest part. See the gooey, grimy, gopher guts (photo 2). Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Save the seeds if you want to rinse, dry, and roast them or if you want to dry them for planting next year. I roasted mine. Half of the seeds were seasoned with paprika and chili powder, the other half were tossed in cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice) and sugar. Get creative! Bake the seeds in one layer on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Back to the pumpkin: Place your pumpkin halves face down in a baking dish and fill the dish with a little bit of water. This helps keep the pumpkin flesh moist (photo 3). Bake at 375 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes, or until its easy to pierce with a fork.
Once cool, scrape the flesh out of the pumpkin and puree in a food processor (photo 4). This pumpkin yielded about 2 cups pumpkin puree.
Now we're talking! Lets bake!
One of my favorite pumpkin recipes is Harvest Loaf Muffins. Beware, though, they are addicting! See the recipe over on Jessica's blog.
This pumpkin puree, however, is going in a pie - a caramel-pecan pumpkin pie to be specific.
Are you in charge of pies this year for Thanksgiving? Here's a yummy variation to the traditional pumpkin pie:
Caramel-Pecan Pumpkin Pie
1 pie crust
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 15-oz can pumpkin, or about 2 c. pureed pumpkin
1/4 c. half-and-half, light cream, or milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
In a large bowl stir together eggs, pumpkin, and half-and-half. Stir in the granulated sugar, flour, lemon peel, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Pour pumpkin mixture into your pastry lined pie plate. To prevent over-browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together the brown sugar, pecans, and butter until combined. Remove foil. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over top of pie. Bake for 20 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and topping is golden and bubbly. Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours.