Close your eyes for a moment and think about pumpkins. What comes to mind?
Was it jack-o-lanterns burning brightly on your front porch? Or did you imagine a colorful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table?
What I want to know is who thought of food?
Pumpkins are delicious and nutritious and can be made into any type of dish. Pumpkins can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and, of course, as dessert. By making a simple pumpkin puree, we can integrate pumpkin into all of our baked goods and even in soups. The thing about pumpkin is, once you’ve had fresh, you will never go back to canned. If you have been eating canned pumpkin your whole life, get ready for the true magnificent taste of pumpkin fresh from the vine.
Before I give out the essential recipe for the puree, I want to mention that pumpkins are an excellent source of fiber and beta carotene. Beta carotene, which is usually associated with carrots, is responsible for the vitamin A levels in the body. Vitamin A is important for healthy vison and skin. Eating pumpkins is a great way to get some extra fiber in your diet while boosting your vitamin A. Now you have an excuse to make some pumpkin treats : It’s good for you.
What better way to get people to try fresh pumpkin recipes than with chocolate involved? I present to you: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. These pumpkin muffins are so irresistible that you will only be bringing home the empty tray from the Halloween party because the muffins will all be gone. Kids and adults alike love these. You can even put them into cute Halloween or Thanksgiving muffin cups. They are perfect for mini-muffins, which will make double the quantity for a crowd. So, instead of candy, bring these healthy yet heavenly goodies to your next party.
1 lb pumpkin (or larger), seeded
Steam the pumpkin upside down for 15-20 minutes in an inch or two of water. I use the pumpkin top as a stand to keep the pumpkin itself above the water level.When tender, remove and allow it to cool. When it’s ready to handle, remove the skin. Puree in a food processor. This can be used fresh or can be frozen for later use.
Pumpkin puree can be used in lieu of canned pumpkin in any of your favorite recipes. I have found that one cup of puree can be used for one 15 oz can of pumpkin.
PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
2 c. unbleached white flour
2 t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
½ c. packed brown sugar
½ t. salt
½ t. ground cinnamon
½ c. chocolate chips (mini-chips are great for mini-muffins)
1 c. pumpkin puree
½ c. milk
¼ c. melted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin cups and then grease. Mix dry ingredients flour through cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, milk and butter. Fold into the flour mixture until just combine. Do not over-mix.
Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups or 24 mini-muffin cups. Only fill each cup just over halfway. They will rise. Bake 20-25 minutes for full-sized muffins or 10 minutes for minis. Remember to check your muffins for doneness because all ovens vary. You want a toothpick to come out clean when inserted into the middle.
Let these muffins be an introduction to the world of cooking with fresh pumpkin. Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors of fall. What is your favorite fall flavor? Send me an e-mail with a fall recipe that I can include in my next article. Please include your name and a brief biography as well. I want to find out what recipe is a tradition for your family during our autumn season in Evergreen.
Amy Heiden is an Evergreen resident who writes about food, recipes and gardening. Send her your recipes at email@example.com.