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Pumpkin – More than Just a Jack-o-Lantern


Autumn brings to mind thoughts of brightly colored leaves falling from trees, days growing shorter and football games at the local high school. For children, autumn means Halloween and the fun of carving jack-o-lanterns. Historically a sign of fall, pumpkins are an integral part of the season and adorn school classrooms and front porches. There is more to a pumpkin than a scary faced jack-o-lantern however. Inside each chubby, brightly colored shell lie the beginnings of many delicious and tempting dishes and desserts.

When faced with the dilemma of selecting the right pumpkin for cooking or baking, how do you know which to choose? Although perfect for the best possible jack-o-lantern, the biggest may not always be the best for cooking. Usually, smaller pumpkins have less water and more yummy pumpkin flesh and less waste.

What is the best technique for preparing a fresh pumpkin for cooking or baking? Start by slicing the pumpkin in half crosswise. Put the halves, cut side down, on a pan and bake for 45 minutes at 325 F or until tender. When the pumpkin has cooled it can be peeled and easily mashed. Most 5 pound pumpkins will give you around 4.5 to 5 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. A pumpkin will keep for two months if refrigerated.

Here is a delicious pumpkin recipe to try at home:

Baked Pumpkin

3 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin

2 eggs, beaten

½ c pecans, chopped

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp butter, melted

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground mace

Dash of pepper

½ c pecan halves

½ c firmly packed brown sugar

¼ c maple syrup

Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well. Pour pumpkin mixture into a lightly greased 1 ½ qt casserole. Arrange pecan halves on top of casserole. Combine brown sugar and syrup in a small saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Cool slightly. Spoon glaze evenly over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 40 minutes. Serves 6.

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Source by Sherry Frewerd

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