NomNoms: Pumpkinpalooza!

Despite the fact that this year Christmas seems to have made its earliest foray onto the scene possibly ever (no lie, I saw decorations go up as early as October 18th), there is both a month or so of autumn remaining to us in the Northern Hemisphere and we would be seriously remiss to ignore the seasonal goodies still available. So this week's post is a full-on feature of a consummate fall favorite: the pumpkin. 
My pumpkins! Mine!
In the vegetable kingdom, the pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse: low in calories but packed with fiber, vitamin A AND flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants (xanthin ftw!). It's highly versatile, capable of taking on either savory or sweet recipe profiles, and features prominently in many a holiday meal here in the states. The color alone will make pretty much any dish featuring this otherwise humble gourd the focal point of the table. Bonus: pumpkin is up there with the most forgiving of ingredients so I included not one, but three recipes for your kitchen experimenting pleasure.  

Pumpkin Pie
Difficulty: Easy
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: Optional, but recommended
Feeds: 4-8 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 90 minutes (30 minutes of preparation and an hour of bake time)

Required Equipment: A large glass or metal bowl, measuring spoons, a spatula, a pie plate (if not using pre-made graham cracker crust), a cookie sheet, an electric hand mixer.
Optional Equipment: A stand mixer

2 eggs
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 cups of pureed pumpkin
1 can of evaporated milk
1 9 inch (22.86cm) round of pie dough OR 1 tin of pre-made graham cracker crust

*Set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232.2 degrees Celsius)*

Crack the two eggs into your bowl, then beat them slightly (until the yolks are thoroughly broken, but not so much that the whites begin to stiffen). Then combine the remaining ingredients exactly in the order listed above, mixing to approximate uniformity with each addition. The resulting blend will be very liquid and will exactly fit a 9 inch (22.86cm) pie plate. If you are using dough, place this into your pie plate and, using a fork, make about a dozen impressions into the dough with the tines (just an impression, not so much as to poke all the way through the dough). Pour the filling into the dough, then place carefully into the oven. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius), then return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 50 minutes.

A few quick notes on this recipe:

  • You want to introduce as much air as possible into the pie filling as you are adding the ingredients. Adding lots of air will result in a sinfully smooth, almost velveteen texture that will have people asking how on earth you did this. For this reason, I highly recommend using a stand mixer if you can get a hold of one. If that's not possible, an electric hand mixer will do. Only use a whisk if there are no other options available to you. The pie will still taste good, but it will be denser and will lack that coveted airy texture.
  •  For easy handling of the pie once it's been in the oven, put the pie plate on a cookie sheet.
  • You can use either canned pumpkin or pureed pumpkin that you've made yourself. Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling.
  • Making graham cracker crust from scratch is actually pretty easy if you wanted to give it a go. I typically use this method and recommend doing so right before you start making the filling, as graham crackers go stale quickly.

Pumpkin Bread

Difficulty: Noob
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: None
Feeds: 3-4 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 75 minutes (15 minutes of preparation and an hour of bake time)

Required Equipment: A large mixing bowl, measuring spoons, a large wooden spoon, a spatula, a loaf pan.
Optional Equipment: None


1.5 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
1 pinch of ground ginger
sprayable cooking oil/cooking spray

*Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius)*

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Stir until the mixture is well blended (it should look like thick orange brownie batter). Using your sprayable cooking oil, spritz the inside of your loaf pan until it has a thin, even coating. Now pour the bread mix into the loaf pan and put the pan into the oven. Let the bread bake for 1 hour. The bread is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan and a toothpick inserted in the center can be removed cleanly.

Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt

Difficulty: Noob
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: Optional
Feeds: 1-4 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 20 minutes if using an ice cream maker, about 60-120 if using other means.

Required Equipment: A large glass or metal bowl, a large spoon, measuring spoons, a spatula (and a whisk if not using an ice cream maker), an ice cream maker.
Optional Equipment: None

1 cup non-fat standard yogurt
2 cups 2% milkfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*

*You can typically find this in your spice section of your local grocer. If there's none to be had, you can substitute 1/8th of a teaspoon of each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger.

Combine the ingredients in your mixing bowl until the sugar is wholly dissolved, then give it a quick taste test. Akin to our friend, peanut butter fro-yo, this recipe is a base that you can modify to your heart's content before setting it to chill.  

If You're Using and Ice Cream Maker: Add your concoction to the chilled drum of the ice cream maker. Turn it on and leave it to churn for 18-20 minutes (time will vary slightly based on the model of your maker). Remove your freshly chilled noms from the drum. Woot for frozen goodies in the fall!

If you're NOT Using an Ice Cream Maker: Using your whisk, mix the ingredients together for 20-30 seconds, then put the entire bowl in the freezer. Wait 20 minutes, remove from the freezer and whisk again. Repeat this process until the yogurt takes on a semi-frozen state (it will be physically resistant to your mixing). Once the yogurt reaches this state then give a woot for frozen goodies in the fall!

A few quick notes on this recipe:

  • Feel free to experiment with other types of yogurt if you'd like, but I highly recommend starting with the 1:2 ratio of standard to Greek yogurt to get a handle on how the dessert is going to taste. Since the pumpkin has an intrinsic sweetness to it, the tartness of the standard yogurt tends to counter it nicely.
  • If you didn't want to use vanilla extract for any reason, golden spiced rum serves as a perfect substitute. However, just as with our peanut butter frozen yogurt, some sort of alcohol base is required to prevent our dessert from turning into a solid brick once we chill it.

Happy kitcheny experimentation and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating this week!

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