Category Archives: pumpkins

Jack-o-Lantern Extravaganza

In the spirit of this spooky season, I’m re-posting one of the more popular posts from over the years. It’s from 2012. Have a spooktacular Halloween, everyone!

 

Pumpkin Obsession: Extreme Edition

My brother gets a little crazy every autumn. Brice is always buying pumpkins in October, and he carves them all, or as many as time allows. Gourds aren’t even safe from him at this time of year.

As of Monday he said the current count was 26. That was nine pumpkin-shopping days before Halloween, so he may have even more by now. (I think he’s regretting not following through on his idea of planting a pumpkin patch this summer.)

It all started way back when little Bricie won a ribbon in a pumpkin carving contest. Not that lots of actual carving was involved – his creativity caught the judges’ attention.

Every Halloween season, Brice & I wind up talking about pumpkins. When I carve jack-o-lanterns, I only do one or two. I carve slowly, but add special touches like freckles (by plunging a metal skewer through the shell) or scars (by scraping skin and a little flesh off the pumpkin). Brice? He uses power tools.

Use extreme care when using power tools – especially on round objects.

Brice’s carving isn’t completed yet for this Halloween, so let’s take a tour of their yard from a Halloween past. (The great photos are by my sister-in-law, Jeanne.)

Hmm, doesn’t that white jack-o-lantern way back there appear to be eating something? Let’s take a closer look….

This last one looks a bit Seussian, don’t you think?

All right. It’s time to admit my role in my brother’s autumnal obsession. A couple years ago I gave him two Extreme Pumpkin Carving books by Tom Nardone.

Hey, Bri, it seems Nardone has an annual pumpkin carving contest. Enter it, and maybe you’ll repeat your childhood success with another win!

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? How many pumpkins do you plan to carve this year?

 

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Extreme Pumpkin Obsession

In honor of the season, I thought it would be nice to revisit a popular post from 2012:

 

My brother gets a little crazy every autumn. Brice is always buying pumpkins in October, and he carves them all, or as many as time allows. Gourds aren’t even safe from him at this time of year.

As of Monday he said the current count was 26. That was nine pumpkin-shopping days before Halloween, so he may have even more by now. (I think he’s regretting not following through on his idea of planting a pumpkin patch this summer.)

It all started way back when little Bricie won a ribbon in a pumpkin carving contest. Not that lots of actual carving was involved – his creativity caught the judges’ attention.

Every Halloween season, Brice & I wind up talking about pumpkins. When I carve jack-o-lanterns, I only do one or two. I carve slowly, but add special touches like freckles (by plunging a metal skewer through the shell) or scars (by scraping skin and a little flesh off the pumpkin). Brice? He uses power tools.

Use extreme care when using power tools – especially on round objects.

Brice’s carving isn’t completed yet for this Halloween, so let’s take a tour of their yard from a Halloween past. (The great photos are by my sister-in-law, Jeanne.)

Hmm, doesn’t that white jack-o-lantern way back there appear to be eating something? Let’s take a closer look….

This last one looks a bit Seussian, don’t you think?

All right. It’s time to admit my role in my brother’s autumnal obsession. A couple years ago I gave him two Extreme Pumpkin Carving books by Tom Nardone.

Hey, Bri, it seems Nardone has an annual pumpkin carving contest. Enter it, and maybe you’ll repeat your childhood success with another win!

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? How many pumpkins do you plan to carve this year?

Bake your own doggie treats

Anyone with a dog knows a lot of dog treats have been recalled in recent months. Why risk your pet’s health on pre-made, processed by-products when making treats from scratch isn’t any harder than baking cookies?

That, and I have been looking for an excuse to use these cool doggie bone cookie cutters….

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When a neighbor passed along this recipe her sister’s dogs loved, I asked Doggie Lily’s vet if it sounded like a healthy treat. She said pumpkin is really nutritious, good for digestion (it’s great for cats, too), then asked me to let her know how they turn out.

This weekend Doggie Lily and I broke out the rolling pin and started baking.

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Measure and mix as directed, then use your hands to knead it into shape. Then roll out the dough and start cutting.

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They don’t need much space for baking, so you can pack them fairly closely.

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Bake as directed (flipping the treats half way through), and this is what you get.

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Yield: 20 small, 18 medium and 12 large, crunchy treats.

Lily’s verdict?

Lily didn't stay still, and had most of this treat down before I could get a photo.

Lily didn’t stay still, and had most of this treat down before I could get a photo.

That's my girl. She didn't miss a crumb!

That’s my girl. She doesn’t want to miss a crumb!

She’s already had two medium sized treats and is still sniffing around for more.

With lots of leftover ingredients, we just might bake some more when Doggies Finn and Stella are here for their spring vacation next week.

What are some of the crazier things you’ve done or made for your furry babies?

Pumpkin what?

No guesses on what I planned to make from my homemade pumpkin puree? Not one of you? Then it looks like I’ll have to show you.

I used it to make a big, delicious pot of pumpkin chili.

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Yes it sounds weird, but it’s really good. I promise! The secret recipe I used came from one of my cousins, but you can turn almost any chili recipe into pumpkin chili simply by replacing some (or all) of the tomato sauce or puree with the same amount of pumpkin puree. You don’t have to make your own pumpkin puree, canned works just as well.

Not only does substituting pumpkin for some of the tomato products add nutritional punch to an already pretty healthy dish, it lowers the acidity of chili, making it a nice alternative for people who have problems eating acidic foods.

The recipe I used is particularly colorful since it uses red kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans and has red, green and yellow peppers – plus lots of jalapenos.

I’ve heard of people adding anything from chocolate to whiskey to chili, so pumpkin really isn’t that strange. What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve added to chili, and how did it turn out?

Homemade pumpkin puree

I loathe pumpkin pie, but that doesn’t mean I hate pumpkin.

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cookies. All good. It’s the slimy texture of pumpkin pie that I can’t stand.

You might remember this cute little pie pumpkin that adorned my dining room table this fall.

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I kept it out through Thanksgiving. As long as the skin isn’t damaged, pumpkins will last a long time. Once the Christmas decorations went up, my intention was to cook and puree the pumpkin and freeze it for future use. I was a bit busy making Christmas gifts, so I didn’t get around to it until now.

Here’s how simple it is to turn your decorative pie pumpkin into a healthy puree ready to use in your favorite pumpkin recipes. (This works with pretty much any type of winter squash, too.)

  1. Wash the pumpkin.
  2. Remove stem and cut pumpkin into quarters.
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  3. Remove seeds (you can save those to roast) and cut pumpkin into large chunks.IMG_1067
  4. Steam for about 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. (Roasting is another option.) IMG_1072
  5. Cool slightly and remove skin.
  6. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth. Add a little water if the machine seems to struggle to start processing. I added about 1/4 cup of water to this batch.IMG_1073IMG_1074

Since I’m not always sure what I’ll use the pumpkin for, I measure it out before freezing.

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This pumpkin yielded roughly 4 cups of puree (the yellow dish holds 2 cups, the red one holds 1 cup and the bowl in back holds 1-1/2 cups when full) .

The recipe I’ll be making calls for 2-3 cups of pumpkin, so I’ll freeze the remainder for future use. When freezing puree, I always note on the container the date it was made and how much there is.

Care to guess what I plan to make with my pumpkin puree? One hint: It won’t be pumpkin pie!

What’s your favorite pumpkin-flavored food?

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