It's Pumpkin Time

by Clarissa Camus

Only one week left until Halloween and one month until Thanksgiving and there are pumpkins all around us. I recently took my kids to the local Pumpkin Patch to buy a few pumpkins. What is it about pumpkins that makes kids love them? Is it there vibrant orange color...their unusual shapes and sizes..their sweet taste?

I did a little research on pumpkins and found that:

*Pumpkins are extremely good for you. Pumpkins contain the antioxidant, beta-carotene. They're rich in vitamin A and potassium and high in fiber.

*The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word "pepon" that means large melon.

*Pumpkins originated in Central America. Native Americans roasted pumpkin strips to eat, used pumpkin for medicine, and wove dried pumpkin strips to make mats.

*Pumpkins are a fruit and are part of the cucurbita family that includes squash.

*The largest pumpkin ever grown was over 1,000 pounds!

*American colonials hollowed out pumpkins and filled them with milk or cream, sugar or honey, and spices, then baked them (sort of the first pumpkin pies).

Try these pumpkin recipes and serving ideas:

Pumpkin Pie

8 small pumpkins (each the size of a softball)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups (1 16 ounce can) pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grown cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Carve the small pumpkins, hollow out center, and remove all seeds. Wash pumpkins thoroughly with warm water and pat dry. Set aside the lid. Lightly salt the pumpkin and cover with oil.

Mix pie filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Place pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pour filling into each small pumpkin. Bake in a 325F degree oven for 1 hour or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Make sure you don't overcook the pie or the pumpkin shell will not hold. Cool slightly and serve one little pie per person. Kids will love having their own little pumpkin pie.


Pumpkin Tip:
Never leave pumpkin pie out on the kitchen counter overnight. Pumpkin pie has plenty of sugar, eggs, and milk so always refrigerate your pumpkin pie to avoid getting ill.




Quick and Easy Pumpkin Soup

4 small pumpkins (each the size of a softball)

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste 1 tablspoon flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 can chicken broth
2 cups pumpkin

Carve the small pumpkins, hollow out center, and remove all seeds. Wash pumpkins thoroughly with warm water and pat dry. Set aside the lid. Lightly salt the pumpkin and cover with oil. Place pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 325F degree oven for 1 hour making sure the pumpkin shell is not too soft. Let cool.

In a saucepan add oil, nutmeg, and a dash of salt and pepper. Add milk and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Add pumpkin and chicken broth. Cook for 2 minutes more until thoroughly heated (do not boil).

With a ladel, spoon soup into baked pumpkins. Serve with lid on or off.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
2 cups pumpkin
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

Mix together dry inredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and add oil, milk, and pumpkin. Then add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just enough to get rid of most of the lumps. Add a little extra milk if batter is too thick. Stir in nuts.

Pour a large spoonful per pancake onto a greased griddle or skillet. cook until pancakes get bubbles on top and edges are slightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Then flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.


Cooking Pumpkin Tip:
To make your own pumpkin puree, first wash the pumpkin. Then carve and hollow the pumpkin removing all the stringy stuff and seeds. Cut into chunks. Boil until soft. Drain and cool. Remove the skin (it's easy to do because it is so soft). Put in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. 2 cups of pumpkin are equal to 1 16-ounce can of pumpkin.

Note: Pumpkin puree makes great baby food!




Happy Kid Cooking!

Clarissa, mom chef
Easy Kids Recipes

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