Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my favorite cream cheese frosting.  I use it for chocolate cake, spice cake, carrot cake, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bars and so on.  Occasionally, I will sprinkle some pumpkin spice in it for a little something different.  My new favorite variation, though, is to add the juice and zest of one lemon plus a couple of drops of lemon essential oil to the recipe.  It is delightful on a variety of cupcake flavors.  (A bit more powdered sugar might need to be added to create the proper spreading consistency after adding lemon juice.)

1 8-oz. bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the cheese and butter, then stir in vanilla.  Add sugar to desired consistency.

Putting Up Pie Pumpkins

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Pie pumpkins are those cute little pumpkins you often see piled up in baskets at Farmers’ Markets.  They are usually fairly dark orange and have thick stems.  This variety is very thick-walled and slightly sweet in flavor, which makes them perfect for using in soups, breads and pies.

I like to wash, seed and cut up my pie pumpkins, placing them in a 22-quart roaster for cooking.  You can certainly just cook one at a time, though, either in the oven or in a pot on the stove.  Pumpkins are a winter squash, so you cook them just as you would butternut or acorn–cut side down in a baking dish with about 1/2″ of water, tightly covered with foil at 400 degrees or so for about thirty minutes until soft.  The whole idea is to be able to scrape the pulp from the outer skin.  Sometimes, I will puree the pumpkin pulp with my KitchenAid attachment or even a blender to make it super smooth.  It’s totally up to you.  I don’t mind the added texture in breads and muffins, but I think the smoothness that the pureeing accomplishes is nice for pies and soups.  Once you have the pulp ready, you measure it into amounts that you would like to use for your favorite pumpkin recipes and put it in freezer bags, double-bagging against freezer burn.  Pumpkin is very easy to preserve in this manner.  My only caution is that you do not cook it in a whole lot of water; the pulp can become soggy and lose its thick texture that makes it so nice for cooking and baking.

I was somewhat shocked the first time I did this, because my pumpkin puree was not dark orange like canned pumpkin.  However, the flavor and texture is greatly improved over the store-bought options–even though my breads and pies looked a bit “anemic” to me.

On a side note, if you have no interest in cooking with these early pumpkins, you can always wash the outsides with a diluted bleach solution and cure them in the sun with the hope that they will last for your fall decorations.

My Best Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread

My friend, Natasha, gave me this recipe YEARS ago, and it totally rocks! I have made a few changes to her original recipe to make a prettier loaf, but it still tastes wonderful! And, it freezes beautifully. Make a double batch for your freezer!

Beat the following until well-blended:

1 ½ c. sugar
½ c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 c. water

Sift together the following:

1 ¾ c. flour
½ t. baking soda
¾ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¾ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. cloves

Add flour mixture to first mixture, then stir in:

1 cup of pureed pumpkin
½ c. nuts or chocolate chips, if desired

If you want to make a crumble topping (like I did for the loaves in the picture), mix together 1 cup each of rolled oats, sugar and flour and half a cup of butter until crumbly.  Freeze crumb mixture for at least an hour. (Frozen crumbles will not sink down into the batter as easily.) Gently place crumb mixture on tops of loaves or muffins and proceed with baking.

Makes one loaf—baked at 325 for one hour OR

4 mini loaves–baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes OR

One dozen muffins—baked at 375 for about 15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

Pumpkin Ribbon Cake

Pumpkin Ribbon Cake

This cake is one of our favorite fall treats.  It is beautiful, relatively inexpensive and super delicious.

2 ½ c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. ginger
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. butter, softened
3 eggs
¾ c. pumpkin
½ c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Filling:

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
¼ c. sugar

Garnish: powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 10” round cake pan. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream sugar & butter until fluffy, then add eggs, pumpkin, milk and vanilla; beat well. Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, mixing well.

Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Spread half of the cake mixture in bottom of pan. Spoon filling over batter, spreading carefully over batter. Spoon remaining cake batter over cream cheese, spreading evenly.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Before serving, sprinkle cake with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Roll

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The first time I ever had this delectable dessert was when my college friend, Christine, made it for my husband and me to top off a meal in their home. I have no recollection of whatever else she served that night (though I’m sure it was fabulous). This beautiful pumpkin roll had my undying devotion immediately and is still going strong. I make a double batch of Christine’s recipe almost every single fall—one for now and one for later. I made my traditional two earlier today and—in a rare burst of pumpkin roll self-control–put them both in the freezer to share with relatives.  I’m already regretting it. I guess I need to make another one to enjoy before Thanksgiving.

3 eggs
2/3 c. pumpkin
1 t. baking soda
½ t. cinnamon
¾ c. flour
1 c. sugar

Whisk ingredients.

Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper; pour batter onto paper.

Bake for 15 minutes at 375, immediately turning out onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Pull off parchment paper then roll cake inside towel for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make filling:

2 T. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
¾ t. vanilla

Unroll cake and spread with filling, rolling up immediately afterward.

Wrap well and store in fridge or freezer.

Pumpkin Pancakes

CCPancakes

This recipe makes a nice, big batch with some left over for the freezer.

4 c. flour  (I use 2 c. all-purpose and 2 c. whole wheat.)
4 T. brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 c. pumpkin puree
3 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 T. oil
raisins or chocolate chips, if desired

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients (except raisins or chocolate chips) in a separate bowl; mix well.

Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients; stir until thoroughly moistened.

Drop by 1/4-cupfuls onto hot, greased griddle; sprinkle with raisins or chocolate chips, if desired.  Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, then flip and cook until golden.

Makes about 35 pancakes.

 

Canned Pumpkin

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I wrote this a few years ago, after my first experience with cooking pumpkins…

We had a few extra pumpkins this year–not a lot, but enough that I felt the need to be productive with them. So, we have cut some up to feed the pigs, and we have cut some up for our own use.

Baking pumpkin is very easy, though perhaps a bit time-consuming. I’ve tried it three ways, and I’ve found no way to be superior. My preference is baking because the pumpkin seems to be less soggy, but the crockpot and stovetop certainly get the job done. All you need to do is cut open a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, then cut the fruit into manageable pieces. Put enough water to cover the bottom of a pot, baking dish, or crockpot, and put the pumpkin in. Cover and cook or bake on low until the pulp is soft enough to be scooped out of the rind with a spoon. Smash it if it needs smashing. Then, measure the pumpkin into freezer bags or containers and stick in the freezer. Easy enough.

Since I had all of this excess pumpin, I thought I would make some pumpkin muffins for breakfast today. I had a new muffin recipe that I wanted to try, so I followed the directions and made the muffins. They smelled so good while they were baking! When the timer went off, I turned on the light for a little peek. “Hmm . . . maybe I should open the oven door,” I thought to myself, “These look a little peaked”. I opened the oven door, and was mildly surprised at how . . . um . . . anemic my muffins looked. They looked like cornbread! I tasted them, and they tasted all right, but there was no rich, autumn orange color. I tasted them again. On second thought, they tasted pale. I mean, really, a pumpkin muffin should at least taste orange, right?

I don’t know what the folks at Libby’s put into their pumpkin to make it so orange. Maybe it’s a special type of pumpkin they use. I looked at the ingredients on a store-brand can of pumpkin I had, and it just said “pumpkin”. Apparently, their pumpkin is extra-rich in beta-carotene or something.

Truthfully, the muffins I made tasted like pumpkin muffins. My perception of them was affected by their appearance more than by their actual taste. I don’t know that I should ever make something pumpkin-y for someone with this home-cooked pumpkin. What if they liked their pumpkin foods orange, too? Who ever heard of a yellow pumpkin pie? I think I’d run into some serious skeptics. My dessert would be the one left on the table un-cut at the end of the pitch-in. You know what I’m talking about. How embarrassing to have to take the entire dessert home while everyone pretended they didn’t notice. I’d rather leave it on the table and just walk away.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking. Do I judge the folks I meet by what I think they should look like or by who they truly are? If I do, I may be missing out. There are probably all kinds of yellow folks out there who are truly orange at heart–just like my pumpkin muffins.