Foodie Nation: Pumpkins Turn Humdrum Holidays into Fabulous Foodiedays

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Vanessa Piña/San Jacinto Times

Once the Jack 'o Lantern is carved, leftover guts make tantalizing treats.

Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts, and breads that so many of us love. However, many do not know pumpkin, a member of the squash family, is actually a fruit made up of 90 percent water. There are 50 types of pumpkins and all of their flowers are edible.

Whether decorating the house or the dinner table, pumpkin has many delicious uses for the season.

Pumpkin Pie

Colonists made pumpkin pie differently than we do now. They sliced off the pumpkin tops, removed the seeds, and filled the pumpkin with milk, spices, and honey, and then proceeded to bake it over hot ashes.

In modern times, you can find a pumpkin that’s about the size of an average person’s head. Simply crack off the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out all the guts and fibers and place the pumpkin halves on a baking pan for one hour and 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Once they cool, flip the pumpkins over, scrape out the flesh, and put it into a bowl. The flesh should be about three cups. Add the flesh to your blender, and now you have pumpkin pie filling like the one sold in the cans.

For the classic pumpkin pie, take the beaten pumpkin, add one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, half a cup of brown sugar, one third cup of sugar, two eggs, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and one-fourth teaspoon of nutmeg. Preheat your oven to 425 while everything mixes together. You can use either homemade pie crust (I’m sure there’s a recipe on Pinterest) or you can just go to Kroger and buy some like I did. Line your pan with the crust and fill it with the delicious pumpkin pie filling. An hour later in the oven, you should have a homemade pumpkin pie fit for a king.

Trivia sidebar: The largest pumpkin pie was made in Ohio in 2005. It weighed 2,020 lbs, containing 900 pounds of pumpkin, 155 dozen eggs, and 300 pounds of sugar.

Seeds

Don’t throw away the seeds you took out of your pumpkin for the recipe above. You can make salty pie spiced pumpkin seeds in less than 20 minutes. Place the clean seeds in a bowl with one tablespoon of salt, two tablespoons of olive oil, maple syrup, and brown sugar, and one teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place the seeds on baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes until brown and crispy. Let them cool and enjoy.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is simple. Kroger sells $0.99 holiday pumpkin bread mix. Mix that together and cover it with butter cream and drizzle it with Hershey’s caramel syrup and you have a definite winner for a sweet tooth.

Now, let’s branch away from traditional holiday meals, and turn them into Foodieday meals.

Pumpkin Donuts

Open up a tube of Pillsbury Grahams, and cut a hole in the center with a small round cutter. In a skillet, heat oil to a medium heat and place three biscuits in the pan until golden and then flip with tongs. Once the donuts are golden on either side, place in the pumpkin glaze. The pumpkin glaze consists of half a stick of butter, two cups of sugar, and half a jar of pumpkin pie seasoning, mixed, melted and glazed graciously over each donut on both sides. Wait a few minutes to eat, but not too long because donuts are best served hot.

Pumpkin Chili

I know mixing chili and pumpkin together doesn’t sound appetizing. But remember we are branching away from traditional this season.

You need one pound of ground beef, 15 ounces of kidney beans, 14 ounces of pure pumpkin, 48 ounces of crushed tomatoes, four cups of beef broth, one onion, and one diced green pepper, one teaspoon of chili powder, salt, and pepper simmering for at least one hour first, and then stirred frequently every 15 minutes. And to finish, place chili on high for four hours to cook thoroughly. The flavor of the pumpkin is very subtle yet delicious in the chili. The pumpkin’s main addition to the chili is how amazingly creamy it is. Preferably, it is served with cornbread.

Branch out from your traditional holiday foods and make something that will make your inner foodie shine. Happy Foodiedays!