The Pumpkin at the Bottom of the Freezer
Maybe you’re imagining a whole pumpkin. Maybe, in your imagination, it was one that had been carved for Halloween and it now has icicles hanging out of its eye holes. Well, if you are imagining this, please know that my freezer is not that exciting–especially at this time of year. I have a confession: I think I like winter squash and pumpkin more than I actually like it. I think it’s mostly bland, unless it’s cooked with sausage or a roast. And I can manage it in baked goods.
In the fall, like all other falls, and with a heart full of good intentions, I purchase a box or two of winter squash at the Farmer’s Market. And every year, without fail, some (3? 5? 7?) of those squash end up in our compost. Thank God we compost, or I would keep this my dirty little mouldy squash secret. Sometimes squash seeds start growing in the compost in the spring.
Also, without fail, I take the rest of the squash, bake it, scoop out the insides, and freeze it. This is the pumpkin at the bottom of the freezer. And it will behoove me to say that it I am using the royal “I” here. My husband, much to his chagrin, often helps with this chore. And he has made it very clear to me that he is even more ambivalent than I am about winter squash.
“So,” you ask, “Why have you waxed so eloquently about squash in the past?” Well, maybe I was doing what I thought was good: encouraging vegetable consumption. And I do like squash, I just don’t love it. It’s like that friend that you always know will be there, but sometimes they’re just not that fun. (Maybe we’re all like squash at times. Maybe it’s the realization that we’re not all hot-shot fancy tomatoes.)
But I am using the pumpkin at the bottom of the freezer to make food and have been trying quite a few new (and old) recipes. Here are some we’ve particularly enjoyed.
Cider Pumpkin Bread
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 9×5-inch loaf pan. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, apple cider and egg; mix well.
- Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and cinnamon; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into greased and floured pan.
- Bake at 350°F. for 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar (I usually reduce this to 2 cups.)
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin OR 2 C. frozen, thawed & drained pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup peanut butter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Substitute up to 2 C. with white whole-wheat flour.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and peanut butter; beat well. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture; mix well. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
Delicious Pumpkin Cake
- 4 eggs
- 1 2/3 Cups sugar
- 2 Cups pureed pumpkin (Libbys in a can is good)
- 1 Cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 Cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
- 3-4 oz. cream cheese (about half a small size package)
- 1/2 Cup butter (room temperature)
- 3/4 Cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, pumpkin, oil, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nuts, mix gently to combine. Pour into an ungreased 9″ x 13″ pan, bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. It should be pulling away from the sides of the pan a bit, and will spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and let cool at least an hour before frosting.
To prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and room temperature butter with powdered sugar and vanilla extract until well blended and fluffy. Add a bit more powdered sugar if a stiffer frosting is desired. Spoon the frosting onto the center of the cake and spread toward the edges until the cake is evenly frosted. If you want to be really decadent, the frosting recipe can be doubled for extra thick icing, a real kid pleaser. (I have not done this, but let me tell you, I am tempted.)