I'll admit -- I don't love the flavor of pumpkin. I love the look of them. I love the smell of them. I love the "seasonal" factor about them. But not so much the taste.
When Sassy was on baby food, I made almost the entirety of what she ate. She very seldom had the store-bought stuff, not because I'm against it, but because I had been hearing for months about how easy it was to make your own babyfood. And it was -- and cheap, too! I figured out that I spent HALF what I would have had I bought the regular stuff on the shelves at Walmart.
Pumpkin was one of the foods I was really excited for Sassy to try, and although she didn't love it at first, it did grow to become a favorite. It's a fairly versatile food, actually, and we tried all different combinations. For a while, pumpkin and blueberry was a hit, though it doesn't sound appetizing to me!
Now that she's almost two, she's significantly more picky with what she will and will not eat. I was really curious to see if she'd groove on pumpkin again this year or not. And since I really cannot STAND the smell of canned pumpkin, and since I remembered the ease of making my own pumpkin puree, I tried it again this week. Seriously, the hardest part is cutting through the pumpkin. Once you accomplish that, you're golden!
If you've never tried it before, all you need to do is cut the pumpkin in order to scrape out the seeds (which I saved for later and roasted, if you like that kind of thing). Put the pumpkin face down (though I've heard face up works just as well) on a lined baking sheet. (The natural sugars caramelize in the oven, so unless you want to be standing at the sink scrubbing pumpkin juice off your baking sheet, break out that aluminum foil!) It's not a terrible idea to prick the skin with a fork or a sharp knife a few times, just to let some of the steam escape if you're roasting skin-side up. Roast at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until you see that the skin is puckered. The "meat" of the pumpkin literally will fall away from the skin when it's done. Throw it in a food processor, add a little water for consistency if needed, and voila! Homemade pumpkin puree that is ready to go into any number of fall recipes!
Coincidentally, I made pumpkin spice muffins with some of my puree.
One pie pumpkin yielded approximately 35 ounces of puree... definitely cheaper than buying it canned!
And as an aside... letting your toddler play with a pumpkin awaiting its roasting fate? Good idea.
Letting your toddler get so attached to said pumpkin that she runs screaming in the other direction when she sees THIS come out of the oven?
Bad idea. Please note this accordingly.
Anyway. Ice cube trays are a great way to store the fallen comrade -- uh, pumpkin puree.
I found these nifty trays last year that came with lids. They're made by Oxo. When your food cubes are frozen, just pop 'em out...
...and store them in a freezer bag.
And here's a helpful hint: it's easier to write a label on the bag before you add the contents. Next time I'll follow my own advice. See? You're smarter already just from reading this blog post. I should write a book.
I pulled out a couple of cubes to defrost in the fridge overnight to add to Sassy's oatmeal for breakfast the next morning.
And the best part about the trays? Dishwasher safe!
I wanted to use some of the fruits of my labor (is it still considered "labor" if it's really no effort at all?) by trying it out in pumpkin spice muffins. Now, I told you -- I'm not big on pumpkin flavor. But stick with me. Oh, and for super easy measuring, each cube is one ounce. I needed a cup of pumpkin puree, so eight cubes went into this cup to defrost in the microwave.
Dry ingredients included flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar (that was kind of an accident), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
By that time, the puree was defrosted.
Add the pumpkin, along with some milk.
I beat them in the measuring cup I used for the pumpkin. Because I'm a fan of not dirtying more dishes than are absolutely necessary.
Crisco and vanilla go in also.
The batter was a little runny...
...so I added a little more brown sugar. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I love experimental baking.
Muffin cups. Because, again, the dirtying dishes thing. This way, all my muffin pan needs is a quick wipe-down. By the way, does anyone else's muffin pan (or baking sheet, or casserole dish) look like this? Oh, for the days when everything was nice and new and perfectly clean. So anyway... fill the muffin cups with the batter.
And then some of the batter goes and does this. So much for the clean pan, right?
It's a really good thing I used those muffin cups so my pan didn't get messy, huh? Sprinkle some cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg (or whatever combination of seasonal spices you like) on top, and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
And they come out beautiful, golden brown, and smelling YUMMY! My oven smelled like a giant Yankee candle.
And then there's this one. How interesting. But he was delicious!
Pumpkin spice muffins... even if you don't love pumpkin flavor, try them out! I've had three.