It’s Pumpkin Time!!!!!!

Nothing speaks October and harvest season like pumpkins. Their beautiful orange color and “easy to squeeze” shape make them the perfect decoration and delicatessen for this time or year! I love having these cute “fall favorites” around my house and I really love turning them into yummy treats with my kids! This month I have been food styling on a fun Food Network project here in Oklahoma! It’s put a little damper on my normal cooking and experimenting with food schedule. Nonetheless I did have a few moments to snap these fun recipes and when we wrap Friday……… I’ll be back in my “Busy Kitchen”!

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Most of us take these friendly familiar squash for granted as we rush through our crazy fall calendars. However, pumpkins are definitely worth getting to know. The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon”. They are rich in antioxidants as they boast high levels of both alpha and beta carotenes. They have a slightly sweet comforting flavor and incredible culinary versatility.

When I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York I had the great pleasure of meeting ………. Amy Goldman. She is passionate gardener and “vegetable rights activists” that written three gorgeous books on heirloom vegetable growing! My favorite book The Complete Squash : A Passionate Grower’s Guide to Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds is a true work of art.


I met Amy during a presentation at The Culinary Institute of America where she did a heirloom melon and squash tasting! During her introduction they mentioned that she obtained her doctorate at Oklahoma State University. After the tasting at the book signing I played the “Oklahoma Girl” card and was able to obtain her contact info.

Several years later when I returned to the valley for some training, I contacted Amy and she invited me to her farm to view her prize-winning heirloom vegetables. Amy was so gracious and full of precious knowledge about these beloved fall treats. Her work has inspired me and she remains one of my culinary heroines for the work she has done to protect seed and agricultural diversity! You can visit her website at www.rareforms.com to find out more. I highly recommend her beautiful book as well! It will get you super excited about planting these beauties in your own garden next year!

I start shopping for pumpkins in early October because I like to get my money’s worth. The first several weeks they adorn my home with their “easy accent” personalities and beautiful autumn hue. They make the house feel warm and really help create the perfect mood for throwing a harvest or costume party. By now though, all I can think about is what kind of delicious recipes can I come up with to put these “squatting squash” in my tummy!

I love to get my kids involved during pumpkin cooking time. They are a super kid-friendly ingredient. My kids not only love carving them but they enjoy helping me turn them into tasty treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert! I have four recipes to share with you this week! They cover all the bases for having pumpkins highlighted on your menu no matter what kind of food mood you are in.

There is one ingredient, besides the pumpkin itself that unifies these four recipes………….. it’s “Pumpkin Pie Spice” I love this simple mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice! It has all the great flavors that compliment the perfect pumpkin flavor without having to purchase four separate spices.

We will start with breakfast! I love waking up in the morning and having a nice refreshing smoothie. It’s fun to see how many different varieties you can come up with. Children love to create their own brand of smoothie to meet their favorite flavor combinations. I always keep frozen fruit around for the last minute smoothie idea but this time of year I want to enjoy all the flavors of the fall. This pumpkin pie smoothie reminds me of being a kid and sticking my finger in the pumpkin pie filling before my mom baked it. Of course I always got in trouble but it was worth it to have that creamy wholesome little smidgen of filling hit my palate. Ahhhhhhh I still remember it. That’s why I love this recipe. It has all the flavor and scrumptious appeal of a pumpkin pie without the baking time.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Yield 6 Portions

1 Cup Frozen Pumpkin Puree (Fresh or Canned)
1/2 Cup of Vanilla Yogurt
3 Cups of Whole Milk or Almond Milk
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
1-2 Cinnamon Graham-Crackers
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Combine pumpkin puree, yogurt, milk, honey and spice mixture into blender.
Blend on medium speed for about a minute.
Serve with crumbled crackers and a small sprinkle of the pumpkin pie spice.
*You can substitute pumpkin pie filling (sold next to the pumpkin puree) in the place of the puree and honey or agave nectar.
*To freeze: simply place in an old-fashioned ice-cube tray or in a plastic storage container and freeze for 2 hours or the night before.

The second recipe not only makes a beautiful table accent but also serves as a great conversation piece during any meal time. I love to entertain and since I’m always having someone over for breakfast :) at “The Grandview” , pumpkin butter is the perfect table decoration this month. It’s super simple to make and the results are divine!

Pumpkin Butter

Yield 6 Small Pumpkin Pots

1 Bag of Small Pumpkins (about the size of a baseball)
1 Pound of Salted Softened Butter
1/2 Cup of Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
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1.) Using a sharp knife, cut the top portion off of the small pumpkins. The goal is use the top as a lid for your butter container.
2.) Scoop the seeds and pulp from the small pumpkin using a spoon. Make sure to get all the strings! Save the seeds for the pepita recipe.
3.) In a medium bowl mix together softened butter and pumpkin puree. Use a whisk to combine. If mixture looks separated use rubber spatula to smooth.
4.) Add pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup to combine.
5.) Using a clean spoon, fill hollowed out pumpkin shells with butter mixture. Place pumpkin top on filled shell and refrigerate until service.
*This pumpkin butter is great on toast, muffins or bagels. You can also use these on your holiday party or buffet table.

In a “busy kitchen” there is no time for idle snacking. Twinkies and dingdongs need not apply! I like to keep my kitchen stocked up with loads of healthy alternative that are seasonal, nutritious and fun! This snack is also very functional and practical. When you carve or roast pumpkins there is always the question……. what do we do with the seeds? Here is my prescription for these little pepitas. I hope you enjoy!

Pepitas de la Poetitas
*Pepitas are Spanish for “little seeds of squash”. My kids love this recipe. It’s sweet, sassy and satisfying! They make great snacks and are a good source of protein as well. I ran out of day light before I could snap these puppies with the camera this week! When I am finished with the Food Network project……. I’ll get it posted!

Yield 2 cups

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 cups Cleaned Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
1/3 cup Unbleached Sugar
1 Large Egg White (beaten to frothy consistency)
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle olive oil onto baking sheet. Mix pepitas, sugar, egg white and spices in small bowl. Spread pepitas in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake until pepitas are golden and dry, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Use a pair of tongs to separate pepitas if they become stuck together. Cool and serve for an afternoon snack or in little baggies to your trick-or-treaters.

Last but not least is my favorite hurry up dinner during this time of year. It’s pumpkin ravioli with brown sage butter. Now literally you could have all of the ingredients (except the fresh sage) hanging about your kitchen all the time. If you used canned pumpkin puree or frozen fresh puree you could throw this together in a matter of minutes. I also like this recipe because it get my kids in the kitchen assembling little raviolis for me! They have a blast and I enjoy the help.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Sage Butter
Yield 35-40 Ravioli

2 Cups of Pumpkin Puree (Canned or Fresh)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Tbsp Breadcrumbs or Finely Crumbled Crackers
15-20 Small Fresh Sage Leaves
1 Package Round Wonton Wrappers
1/4 cup of Water in a small bowl
8 Tbsp Salted Butter
Salt and Pepper
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Fill a large pasta pot or stock pot with water and bring to a soft boil.
In a medium bowl combine pumpkin puree, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pumpkin pie spice and breadcrumbs into a paste. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 pepper.
On an open counter space lay out wonton wrapper and place 1 Tbsp of the pumpkin filling in the center of the wrapper.
Using your index finger dip the tip in the water and brush a small amount around the edge of the wonton wrapper.
Place second wrapper on top of the base wrapper and seal around the edges of the ravioli. Make sure there are no air pockets in ravioli as it will cause the pocket to rupture during the boiling process.
Using a fork, press the edge of the wrappers between the fork tines to secure the two wrappers together.
Repeat process until all the filling is used and all ravioli is assembled.
Once ravioli are assembled, place 4-5 at a time in soft boiling water.
When the ravioli are cooked they will float to the top of the pot. This takes approximately 2 minutes. Once they have floated to the top remove from pan with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place on a plate or platter.
Once ravioli are cooked off you can begin the sauce.
Place butter in a medium non-stick sauté pan.
Melt butter slowly and continue to allow butter to brown on low heat. The butter solids will turn light brown and become toasty.
Place fresh sage leaves in butter and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add cooked ravioli to pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes to coat butter over ravioli. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
To serve top with more parmesan cheese and spoon additional butter and sage over ravioli on plate.

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