What? Pumpkins aren’t just for jack-o-lanterns?

Pumpkins are a plenty! October is a fun time for many of us. The beautiful colors of fall, the scent of spices, Halloween and of course pumpkins. Did you grow your own pumpkins this year? Or maybe you love going to the local pumpkin patch. They are always fun for the kids with activities and games and fun for mom or dad to buy fresh fall squash.

I have to admit, for years my only use for a pumpkin was carving at Halloween and roasting the seeds. If I was going to make any other recipe that required pumpkin, I always purchased the canned filling. There is nothing wrong with this but this year I grew my very first pumpkin in my garden. It didn’t get very big but upon searching options for cooking it I found a lot of great ideas. It was tough to decide how to use it. My family is a big fan of roasted potatoes so I thought roasting it might be good.

What? Pumpkins aren't just for jack-o-lanterns?

Cutting the pumpkin is pretty easy. If you cut the pumpkin in half you can easily scoop out the seeds. If you’ve never roasted seeds, I really encourage you to try. It’s super easy and they make an amazing snack. I’m always sad I don’t have more. Check out these tips for roasting the seeds.

What? Pumpkins aren't just for jack-o-lanterns?

As far as roasting the pumpkin, you can cut it however you’d like. Wedges look really cool but I decided to just make cubes. I did not remove the skin. Some squash varieties have a very thick skin but mine did not. Honestly you could use a variety of spice combinations but I read that adding paprika would be a nice balance to the sweetness or richness of the pumpkin. I decided to toss the cubes in olive oil with salt, pepper, dried rosemary and paprika. This turned out great. The pumpkin had a wonderful rich flavor with a spicy kick. It looks beautiful and makes a perfect fall dish.

What? Pumpkins aren't just for jack-o-lanterns?

With half the pumpkin left it was tough to decide what to make. There were so many recipes I want to try. I found pancakes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, soup, muffins, and sweets all made with pumpkin puree or what I’ve always known as canned pumpkin. So I figured I’d get the most uses out of puree. This process is super easy.

Add the pumpkin to a baking pan with sides (to contain water and juices). Put your pumpkin half face down on the pan. Add around 1/4 in of water to the pan and place it in your oven at 325 for 1 hour. Once it is complete, the sugars in the pumpkin will be super hot so let it cool.

Use a spoon to scrape the flesh out of the pumpkin skin. It will come out easily. Next I pureed the flesh in my Ninja food processor. You could also use a food strainer. Once all the pieces and pumpkin threads were pureed I measured out 1/2 cup measurements into a snack bag. I found that most of the recipes called for 1/2 cup of puree so I figured it would be easier use if I freeze it in measured portions. Make sure you label it with the measurement identified. We’ve all had those mystery finds in our freezer where we’re taking bets on what is inside. I use the puree to make Homemade Dog Treats, with only 3 ingredients. Pumpkin, flour, and Peanut Butter. Safe ingredients for dogs and they absolutely love the treats.

Pull out a pack when you’re ready to use it. Because it’s not much volume it will thaw quickly on the counter. I’m so excited to have pumpkin for year round cooking and baking. I can’t wait to use it for some pumpkin pancakes for the kiddo or try this awesome pumpkin bread recipe! I hope you’ve enjoyed my pumpkin adventures!

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