From Halloween to home baking

Pumpkins can be roasted when Halloween is over — save the puree for delicious fresh pumpkin straight from the freezer all year long

After Halloween, save those pumpkins from the landfill or compost, roast them in the oven and stock your deep freeze with fresh pumpkin purée.

After Halloween, save those pumpkins from the landfill or compost, roast them in the oven and stock your deep freeze with fresh pumpkin purée.

Tomorrow is Halloween and pumpkins abound everywhere one looks. However, of the tons of pumpkins sold, carved and painted, by far the majority will be tossed out come the first of the week. Some will be composted, some will hit the trash, others will be smashed onto the roads or just left to rot. Very few will be eaten.

For several decades, I confess I’d leave my pumpkin where I could see him shrivel into an old pumpman, his top hat slowly sinking into his belly until the snow came and topped off what was left of him. It seems the pumpkin’s glory day is over, come Monday.

But hey, folks, this is a very good vegetable; how about cutting it in half, cleaning it a bit, spraying the inside with oil and roasting it in the oven. The pulp is perfect for muffins, cakes, cookies, squares and chilies, soups and countless other delights.

The recipes below all need some of your pumpkin before being tossed. Give it a try.

Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups quick oats

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1-3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin purée

1-3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for 30 seconds, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (occasionally stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout entire mixing process). Blend in egg then blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin purée.

With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans (if you want some chocolate to show through, set some aside to press into tops before baking). Let batter rest 5 – 10 minutes (this just gives the oats some time to absorb the liquids so batter isn’t so sticky and cookies don’t spread so much).

Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp. at a time (I used a 1-1/2-inch cookie scoop, which I recommend using for evenly shaped cookies, and fill it heaping), and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart.

Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Waffles

1-1/2 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin purée

1 egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

3-1/2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin

6 cups chicken stock

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

5 whole black peppercorns

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon fresh parsley

Wash pumpkin, cut in half lengthwise and clean out and roast at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes until soft. Measure out 3-1/2 cups.

Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Purée the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender.

Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.



Vernon Morning Star