When I was a little kid, I loved when Fall rolled around. I’d be grocery shopping with my mom and we’d carefully pick out cans of Libby’s canned pumpkin off the freshly stocked seasonal end caps. I knew that those cans of pumpkin would be turned into something delightful that would certainly be shared with the company. I loved having company over, still do.
Flash forward to 2009, the year of the pumpkin shortage. Canned pumpkin was nowhere to be found. Sure we’re used to this now with the supply chain issues and what have you, but in 2009 this caused an uproar. My friend's grandma saved the day when she cooked me a pumpkin and it came delivered in a mason jar. How did she do it? I wondered to myself.
Well, I’ve learned a lot since 2009 and I’ll be darned if I’m forced to go without pumpkin desserts. This year my pie pumpkins didn’t survive. Raccoon? Deer? Rabbits? Mower? No one is fessing up, so it's a good thing our very own Alyssa at IFM had a stellar pumpkin crop this year. She knew just who to share with- me.
So, let me show you how to take those fall pie pumpkins you've been decorating your house with, and turn them into something edible.
First, wash the pumpkins thoroughly with warm water and dish soap. Since they grow on the ground, its just a good practice.
Then cut them in half with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds. Seeds can be saved for baking. Then place them cut side down in a baking dish with an inch or so of water. Bake at 400 degrees until soft. When the pumpkin is soft, let it cool slightly and scoop out the orange flesh, avoiding the skin
Your cooked pumpkin can then be mashed by hand or run through a food processor to smooth it. I’ve found that the food processor is helpful if you intend on making a pie or soup. For coffee cakes or bars- hand mashing works just fine. Excess pumpkin can be frozen to use later.
Let's turn that orange mash into some pumpkin bars, here’s my mom’s recipe that she’s been making since I was little.
1 ⅔ Cup Sugar
1 Cup Non GMO Oil (I use Avocado or Coconut)
2 Cup Cooked Pumpkin (or 15oz Canned Pumpkin)
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Cup Flour
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1 8oz Brick of Cream Cheese
1 Stick Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Cup Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8in x 12in baking dish. Beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda with an electric mixer. Sir the flour in by hand. Spread the batter evenly into greased baking dish.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs.
To make frosting, beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.
Cool the bars and frost with cream cheese frosting.
You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to cook with fresh pumpkin instead of using store bought canned pumpkin. It really does taste better and is a fun activity to do with children, showing them where their food comes from.
Sara Lynn, RN, BSN
“If you don’t invest in your health, no one else will. “