2.02.2011

An Abundance of Pumpkins

by guest blogger Meghan P.

photo: Wikipedia Commons

There are a lot of pumpkins in my house. A LOT. Why? It all started in October when my coworker and I compared our favorite Thanksgiving foods. We kept circling back to pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes, yum… and it put me in such a holiday spirit that I picked up a bunch of canned pumpkin and some real ones to decorate the house.

Since then, I’ve had fun experimenting with various pumpkin-based recipes. Here’s a brief list of what I tried (no links given to protect the innocent. If you really want to try them, you’ll have to find them for yourself):

1. On Allrecipes.com, I found a recipe for a pumpkin cupcake made with applesauce and oil instead of butter. (I love butter, but I can only read so many recipes for 12 cupcakes that start with “Blend five sticks of butter…” before becoming completely grossed out).

2. Isaiah’s Pumpkin Cupcakes from the New York Times holiday roundup. The recipe is gluten free and dairy free. I tried three times: once with whole wheat flour instead of GF, one egg and some applesauce instead of two eggs; once with whole wheat flour, applesauce and no eggs; and once exactly as the directions said.

3. Trader Joes Pumpkin Mix. I broke open the box and followed the directions. Like most boxed mixes, it’s got lots of sugar, some preservatives, stabilizers, and “natural flavors” in addition to the real spices. On the whole, though, most of the ingredients are readily identifiable - it’s nothing like what you’d find in a Kraft product.

How did they turn out? The Allrecipes.com one was plain. I couldn’t tell that there was pumpkin in it at all. Isaiah’s Pumpkin Cupcakes were plain and slightly dry with the whole wheat flour used in place of the gluten free blend. They were absolutely terrible when I used applesauce as a sub for both eggs (note to self: keep eggs in stock at all times). When I followed the directions they were passable, if you like vegan food. (I think a big piece of butter would have improved them greatly. A recent Cook's Illustrated recipe used beer to make a moist, flavorful gingerbread. Perhaps something similar is needed for pumpkin breads.)

That brings us to…. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin mix. The cupcakes I made with it were hands down the best of all of them. Alone of all the recipes, they were pumpkin-y with hints of spices that the other recipes could only dream of. I’ve got some theories as to why that could be: A. More sugar. B. “natural flavor” additives. C. super cute seasonal cupcake liners (Kidding!... kind of).

Truth time: I usually like homemade foods over store-bought ones, and since you’re reading this blog, I bet you do too. Homemade is just so fresh and flavorful, and it’s nice knowing that it’s made of real food ingredients and not a million chemicals. Ok, enough already. In this case, friends, save yourself the hassle and break open a box of the prepared mix. You’ll thank me later.

Now it’s time for a reader poll:
What should I make next? It's cold outside again, so I'm willing to bake. I’ve still got one medium pumpkin, one squash, five mini-pumpkins, and one can of pumpkin puree left. Pumpkin-patch soup? Carmelized pumpkin and apple slices? Pumpkin soufflĂ©? A zillion pumpkin spice lattes? Leave your vote in the Comments!

3 comments:

delwin said...

Voting on the "Carmelized pumpkin and apple slices" but I want to see you make "a zillion pumpkin spice lattes"

HEALing Foodie said...

The TJs pumpkin bread mix is real winner! I added half a can of pumpkin puree to the loaf I made last time for extra pumpkin-ness. How about pumpkin curried bisque as seen on the post "A Mindful Thanksgiving"? http://healingfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/11/mindful-thanksgiving.html
Or a zillion pumpkin spice lattes would be fun, too!

j said...

I am a HUGE pumpkin fan! Being born and raised in the northeast, it's like a biological clock, I cannot go through autumn without a serious dose of orange! Even if it's just making pumpkin "pie" smoothies at home with cinnamon and nutmeg something has to tie me through to winter. Speaking of TJ's they still have pumpkin ice cream at the location near me...anyhow, I'll be on the lookout for pumpkin updates from you, and maybe pitch in some of my own :)

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