Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - Roasted Pumpkin and... Pumpkin Pie

Pic by katerha

Today's "Whatcha Cookin' Wednesday" is a 2-fer  - roasted pumpkin AND roasted pumpkin pie - because it's high time we shift the pumpkin paradigm.

It seems to me that when it comes to pumpkins folks rush to carve them into jack-o-lanterns or use as porch and mantle adornments but when it comes to using it as an ingredient... most reach for the canned stuff.  

“It’s easier!” Maaaaybe, but it's also full of BPA, sugar, preservatives and other added stuff.

”It’s cheaper.” Nope. Not by a mile.

“It’s what I know!”  Shift the paradigm!

I invite you to do your taste buds (and wallet) a favor. Allow real pumpkin into your life and on your table.

A can of organic canned pumpkin will run you about $2.40-3.00. It’s enough for ONE pie. A whole, organic pie pumpkin costs about $1.25-2.50., depending on where and when you buy it, and will yield enough pulp for TWO pies. That's HALF-OFF, folks. Buy late-season pie pumpkins at your local farmers market to get the best deal. (Offer to buy in bulk and see the prices really go down…) I buy up all the inexpensive pumpkins each season and do some bulk cooking, a  bit of a roasting fest if you will. My kitchen smells wonderful for an afternoon and I have enough roasted pumpkin to last until mid-summer, sometimes longer. This is how it looks when I'm done:

I stack them in my freezer, like edible books.

I usually preserve my bounty by freezing flat in freezer bags in 2-cup increments so it's easy to pull out for my favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

You’ll be delighted to find out how easy it is to cook real pumpkin that can be used in a wide variety of recipes including quick breads, muffins, soups and yes, pies. When ripe, pumpkins can be boiled, baked, steamed, or, my absolute fave, ROASTED. Total hands-on time is about 5-10 minutes. Easy.

Roasty goodness by Rachel Tayse

Roasted Pumpkin
-Preheat oven to 400.
-Cut pie pumpkin in half or quarters (top to bottom from stem) and scoop out seeds.
-Place pumpkin on cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
Tip: For easy clean-up, line cookie sheet or jell roll pan with parchment paper or foil before roasting.  
-Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a fork can be easily pierced through skin.
-Cool and scoop out pulp from skin.

And now....  PIE. Lovely PIE. Perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner, says me and my kiddos. And especially Thanksgiving. I usually refer to this pumpkin pie recipe as "blender pie" since the only kitchen tool needed is a blender. It's easily the tastiest and easiest pie I've ever made. Hands down.

Roasted Pumpkin Pie
Pie pic by pbody

3 c. roasted pumpkin (about one 3.5 lb sugar pumpkin)
1.5 c. light brown sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
6 large eggs
3 cups of evaporated milk

-Assemble all ingredients in blender and mix until slightly frothy.
-Pour into favorite pie crust.
-Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and no longer jiggly in the middle.

Organically yours,


What's your fave way to cook pumpkin?  I'd love to hear about it...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whatch Cookin' Wednesday - Applesauce

You've heard me preach it, folks:

Buy seasonal food in bulk.  

It's a smart way to get real food at the best prices while at it's peak flavor. I'm over the moon that apples are in season right now. (Seriously, this morning I woke up thinking about rustic apple tarts. No joke.) That means those delicious red/gold/yellow/green/pink fruits are in abundance. And inexpensive.

In my area (East TN), organic apples are about $1.10/lb., which is down from about $2.25/lb in the off-season, and maybe even less expensive if a local farmer has a surplus they want to unload.  What does this mean for my family?  Copious amounts of applesauce!  And yes, rustic apple tarts.

A 25 oz. jar of organic applesauce at my local market costs about $3.60 - 4.00. Ouch. If I ration it carefully (or mix it with yogurt to make it last longer), I might get a jar to last about a week.  I use it in baked goods, we pack it in school lunches, it makes a great ice cream topping... We typically go through about 2-4 jars a month. That's approximately $14.50.

A month...

For applesauce.

Per year? About $175 buckaroos. Super ouch. 

Now, when I make homemade applesauce the cost goes down to about $1.35 for same-sized jar. Sweeeet. And yummy. That's about $3.50 for about 64 oz. of organic, delicious, good-for-you, proud-to-serve, tunny-pleasing, HEALTHY, applesauce.

Another bonus: It's easy! You can make a humongous batch of applesauce in your Crock Pot with very little effort. (Save for the peeling part but it's not too bad if you've got some tunes goin'. I found that Lily Allen is darn near perfect apple peeling music.) Get the kids in on the act. Let your munchkins measure the spices, how many cups of apples needed, and more. A great math lesson, plus they get the eat the fruits of their labor.

Store your sauce in Mason jars in the freezer (be sure to leave at least 1/2" of headspace) or use the super-easy water bath canning method for long-term preserving.

Crock Pot Applesauce
(Yields about 64 oz. For you bad-at-math canners, that's two quarts or four pints or a quart and two pints.)
-3 lbs. or about 12-15 medium-sized apples - peeled, cored, and chopped. (I use a mix of tart and sweet varieties such as a Gala and Granny Smith)
-4 tsp. lemon juice
-sweetener - sugar, honey, agave - to taste (we skip the sweetener since most apples are sweet enough on their own)

Tip: Use non-stick spray on inside of Crock Pot before adding apples.  Makes clean-up a breeze... 

Add lemon juice and apples to Crock Pot. (UPDATED 5.1.13 - please note that I no longer add lemon juice! We didn't see any notable difference when we omitted it so now we just leave it out.)

Stir to combine.

Sprinkle cinnamon on mixture, just to cover lightly.

Set on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.


THAT'S IT.  (Told ya it was easy.) We eat as-is -- a little on the chunky side. If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend to desired consistency in blender or Cuisinart. A hand blender used directly in the Crock Pot works great too. (Use water as needed to get the right texture.)

By the way, this applesauce makes great a Christmas gift.  Can it in a lovely Mason jar, add a fun tag and you're good to go.

Organically yours,


Do you have a fave seasonal Crock Pot recipe?  I'd love to hear about it.  Please post in comments!