Ideally, this post would have been written right after Halloween, when everyone had their carved pumpkins ready to deal with- but American Thanksgiving seems like good timing, too! When you've taken down your cornucopia's and other seasonal decorating, this is what you can do with your pumpkins and other squash. Pumpkin has a plethora of good-for-you reasons to eat it. Here is a great list!
The first (and easiest!) thing to do with your raw pumpkins is to peel the skin off of it (I just used a paring knife), and dice it into small chunks or strips. Freeze these as is to use in cooked entrees such as soups, stews, and casseroles.
And pumpkin seeds- don't forget about those. Possibly the best recipe I've ever found is unfortunately now a dead link. He used a generously salted pot of water to soften the seeds before roasting them. I don't remember how long to boil them for, but I'd say 10-15 minutes before draining and tossing in oil and roasting. The author uses spices other than salt and pepper, but because I have kids with- shall we say- "special" taste buds, I generally stick with plain salted seeds. I use about half the salt he recommends in the boiling water because I found the original amount too salty. They taste and smell a little bit like popcorn, and it's a terrific snack to offer after school with some fresh fruit, or a really tasty alternative to chips when you're watching a movie with your family.
To puree up your pumpkin, you first need to cook it until it's very soft. I cut my pumpkin into pieces because it's easier to deal with that way after it's cooked. The best way I have found over the years is to slow roast it in the oven on a relatively low temperature (300*F-325*F) for a few hours. As it's roasting, it will collapse in on itself, parts may brown, but don't worry about it. I roast it on baking sheets covered with foil, and will take them out a couple of times to flip the pieces over to ensure even cooking.
Once it's removed from the oven, it will need to cool significantly before you can handle it. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh off the peel, and toss it into your blender. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little water to get enough moisture for your blender to puree- and then puree in small batches. It should be a really creamy consistency, not too wet, similar to pureed banana. You can use this puree in soup bases and baking- loaves and muffins. I've used it interchangeably with banana. My second son has been begging me to bake, so I will do some over the next couple of months and post a few photos and recipes for you. A couple of things I've made in the past: pumpkin walnut loaf, pumpkin pie muffins, and pumpkin cranberry muffins.
I hope this has helped give you some practical suggestions on preparing, storing, and using fresh pumpkin. It's a great way to save money and eat well, and to cut down on food waste!
I'll spare you too many details, but I've basically been fighting a cold off and on since we returned home from California, and after a solid 3 weeks of actually being sick with a wicked cough that won't go away, I was prescribed antibiotics.
Normally I'm not the type to go running to the doctor for medications. I grew up in the age of the miracle of antibiotics, and I know I was prescribed antibiotics far more than necessary as a child, so I'm very aware of the horrifying future of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Still, this cough has been really awful. It's kept me from sleeping soundly for several weeks now, which makes it hard to fight the infection, not to mention function well on a daily basis. The diagnosis...bronchitis. Normally this is a viral infection, so I'm a bit leery, but my doctor told me after this long, if it was viral it would be done with already. I've almost finished my dose of antibiotics, but they haven't really made any difference at all, so I'm going back today to ask to get swabbed for whooping cough. The only symptom I don't have is the "whoop", but I've read that's not uncommon in adults, and there's been an outbreak around my city.
Over the last few weeks I've stayed the course, mostly, in cooking dinners. In 4 weeks we've ordered in or taken out 3 times. Which isn't great, because pizza, for example, doesn't have a lot of nutrition- but not bad, considering how terrible I feel. I'm so glad I started stocking my freezer with freezer meals. Those have really helped.
I actually enjoyed a #testkitchen night last weekend. I discovered that pumpkin can be frozen raw. Our halloween pumpkins became 12 cups of (cooked) puree for loaves, and 4 cups of raw diced chunks (for entrees), plus a few cups of roasted seeds. I experimented with a coconut lentil and pumpkin curry dish served over basmati rice. It was delicious, and only the second son didn't enjoy it. Pictured above.
So over the last few weeks these are some of the foods we've eaten. A lot of soups...I think at least twice a week. I doubled a recipe of minestrone and filled up both my slow cookers one day, which was delicious, and gave us another couple of freezer meals. And a harvest vegetable soup, top right, which was really delicious. The pasta bowl is olive, tuna, and tomatoes with fresh parmesan, bottom right was pumpkin chips with chicken and asparagus/fresh tomatoes. A balanced snack one morning with white cheddar, whole wheat crackers, and grapes. And the ultimate comfort food...beef stroganoff.
I wish you a wonderful week. Peace and health to you! I hope to be on the mend soon to get posting more regularly.
My first son is in Junior High this year, which blows my mind. It seems like yesterday he was this tiny squalling person who wouldn't rest unless he was held and rocked for hours at a time. However, he's growing up, and despite his younger years being known as the pickiest kid in the class, he now has a great appetite and appreciation for food.
It's almost winter, and hot school lunches mean so much more when it's frigid outside. Our school has a single microwave in the hallway for students to heat their lunches. I personally don't want him to have to make use of it, because there are a lot of students at school, and if he can just eat his lunch without waiting, so much the better. Like most schools around here, there are restrictions about what kinds of foods can come to school, and because he's older I like to provide him with more than just a snacking lunch.
My favorite hot school lunches combine a bunch of food groups into one handy thermos. The food stays hot, stomach gets filled, and it can't be easier because I use leftovers from a night or two before. If I get organized in advance, I can freeze individual lunch-sized portions and thaw them out overnight when I'm down to nothing in the fridge the week before payday.
Some favorite all-in-one thermos lunches?
Some of my favorite cold school lunches also combine leftovers. For example, If we have an extra chicken breast cooked at dinner, he'll have a chicken sandwich with baby carrots and a cheese string. If the main lunch doesn't include at least 3 food groups, I'll add a side of whatever's missing, usually fruit or vegetable.
Some favorite all-in-one cold lunches?
There is a place for snack lunches in our home. Sometimes it's easier to toss a few random foods into the lunch bag and call it done, especially when I leave him to take care of it. Some foods do better in lunch bags than others- bananas tend to get too bruised and beat up to send to school, so those don't usually make the cut.
Some favorite snack lunches?