Pumpkin Stew baked IN the Pumpkin!

A small pie pumpkin has been sitting in my kitchen awaiting its destiny for about a week. I purchased it at Giant with no plan or recipe in mind. I knew only that I wanted to cook or serve food IN the pumpkin. I pictured a stew of sorts, with sausage and white beans (two of my favorite foods), plus fresh sage and, of course, pumpkin. I scoured the internet in search of such a meal and came up empty. How has no one made this feast before??

Real recipe or not, I was determined to give my lonely little pumpkin a purpose. I found two separate recipes – one for a stew, another for how to bake a different dish in a pumpkin – and combined them into my own pumpkin creation. I sent a cell phone picture of the finished dish to my mom just before digging in and she texted back “You need to put this in your blog!!” so here ya go, Mom, this one’s for you. Continue reading

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Farewell Summer Flowers, Hello Pumpkin Beer!

Happy October!  I love this time of year.  Cool, crisp mornings, changing leaves, lots of apples and, soon, pumpkin-flavored everything.  Call me crazy, but I like to wait until it really feels like autumn before going on pumpkin overload.  (My one exception is pumpkin beer… Southern Tier Pumking is the best!)

The only thing that I don’t like about fall is that my once-lush summer garden inevitably wilts and dies as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter.  Luckily it appears that my garden hasn’t yet gotten the memo about it being October because everything is still vibrant and perfect as of today.  It’s hard to believe that in a few weeks I’ll be tearing out those zinnias, dahlias, pepper plants and other summer growth as I prep the garden for winter.

I took numerous photos of the flowers in my garden over the summer and thought that October 1st would be the perfect day to share their summer beauty before the garden transitions to fall.  Farewell, summer flowers, and hello, pumpkin beer!!

Is there anything about autumn that you don’t like?
Does the arrival of pumpkin beer make up for it?  🙂
What’s your favorite pumpkin-flavored item at this time of year?

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Happy Autumn!  Last Sunday Matt and I celebrated the arrival of Fall by making pumpkin soup.  And this wasn’t just any pumpkin soup… it was THAI pumpkin soup with fresh ginger, coconut cream and jalapeños in it… yum!  We topped it off with a dash of hot Sriracha sauce, a few salty peanuts and some sprigs of fresh cilantro and it was delicious!!

Thai Pumpkin Soup

I discovered this recipe in the cook book that came with our glorious Vitamix blender.  The Vitamix (predictably) made quick work of pureeing the soft ingredients for this soup but you certainly don’t need a Vitamix to make this… I’m pretty sure that an immersion blender would allow you to whip up a pretty tasty Autumn soup as well.  🙂  Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Thai Pumpkin Soup (adapted from the Vitamix ‘Create’ Recipe Book)

You will need…
Olive Oil
1 Onion, choppedThai Pumpkin Soup
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
2  1/2 cups Canned Pumpkin
2 tablespoons fresh Ginger, chopped
1 clove Garlic, chopped
3 cups Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth, for vegetarian soup)
1 teaspoon Green Chiles, chopped (we used Jalapeños)
1 cup Lite Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Cream of Coconut
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Optional Garnishes:
Chopped Peanuts
Cilantro
Sriracha
Sour Cream

Directions:
In a large pot, saute the onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent.  Add the tomato paste, pumpkin, ginger, garlic and broth and stir well.  Bring the mixture to a slow simmer then remove from heat.

If using a VItamix or other high-powered blender, pour the pumpkin mixture into the blender and add in the green chiles, coconut milk, cream of coconut and lemon juice.  Blend on high power for 25-30 seconds, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

If using an immersion blender, add the green chiles, coconut milk, cream of coconut, and lemon juice to the warm pumpkin mixture.  Use the immersion blender to puree the mixture into a smooth soup.  (Note:  I did not use an immersion blender so I don’t know how long this will take, but I’m sure it’s doable!)

Transfer the pureed pumpkin soup into bowls and garnish.  Our favorite combination of garnishes was a dash of Sriracha with a sprinkling of peanuts and a few sprigs of cilantro.  The Vitamix book recommended a dollop of sour cream with peanuts and cilantro… choose whatever sounds good to you!

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Above: Our favorite garnish combination of Sriracha, peanuts and cilantro.
Below: Garnished according to the cook book with sour cream, peanuts and cilantro.

Thai Pumpkin Soup

What’s your favorite Fall pumpkin recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments or post a link!

Volunteer Vegetables!

Guess what?  All of these veggies came from “volunteer plants” in my garden.  Volunteers are plants that grow on their own, either from the wind or a bird dropping a seed or, in my case, from compost.  Seeds aren’t normally supposed to sprout out of your compost so, judging by the huge quantity of volunteers that are growing around my house, I think I must be doing something wrong!  (Or very right, depending on how you feel about volunteer mystery plants!)

The squash and pumpkin plants sprouted by our front door and quickly took over our pink cosmo/dahlia flower bed.  By mid-August the crooked-neck gourd vines were completely out of control and could be clearly seen from the street so we picked the mature squash and ripped out the vines.  The pumpkin vines were growing across our front walk so today I finally decided that the pumpkin looked ripe enough to pick it and pull out the plant.

The tomatoes are the most exciting volunteers because we’re actually getting to eat those.  We have about a dozen volunteer tomato plants and the campari-sized tomatoes are just starting to ripen on their vines.  This is perfect timing because my “planned” tomatoes are pretty much done producing.  Can’t wait to each some of them for dinner tonight!