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10.20.2014

Pumpkin Dumplings


You guys, I have dropped the ball on #30DaysOfPumpkin. I have recipes ready to go, but no time to get online and post the darned things. 

I remember thinking when my kid were younger, "Just get through these years, as they get older life will be less chaotic." Boy was I wrong. Somehow now that I have one kid in school full time, one in half day and just one at home full time, I'm busier than I ever was. So much has changed in just the last year it is crazy. Last year I was able to make the time to blog and to bake for thirty days straight, my house was relatively clean, and my family was happy. Today, the family is still happy, but my house is a whole lot messier and I have less time to blog and bake. What the heck?!

I figure, even if I don't post 30 recipes in 30 days like I did last year, I have still blogged more in the last couple of weeks than I did in the three months prior. So Who cares? I may not reach the goal, but I'm still challenging myself and having fun in the process. 

A couple of weeks ago, I made what most Italians would call Pumpkin Gnocchi, I however being the American I am, just call them dumplings. Served with bits of shredded meat, thick and creamy gravy these dumplings are the epitome of comfort.

Dumplings start out like most pastas, liquid (or in this case pumpkin puree) and some flour. Knead it into a pasta or "dumpling" dough roll into what my kids call snakes, cut in to pieces and then boil and serve with your favorite shredded meat and gravy. In my case, I chose to use some leftover turkey, carrots and turkey gravy. These dumplings are a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers!


Pumpkin Dumplings 

Ingredients: 

1 lb pumpkin puree ( I used fresh, but you can also used canned) 
About 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Directions:

In a mixing bowl, add pumpkin puree, salt and about 1/4 of a cup of the flour and mix. 
Add in more flour until it comes together into a slightly sticky dough. 

Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead (adding more flour as needed) until it is no longer sticky.

Divide dough into four pieces, and roll each into a long "snake" that is about 1/2 inch thick. Using a sharp knife cut into  3/4 inch long pieces. 

Lay dumplings in one layer on a baking sheet until ready to cook.

Toss dumplings into your favorite soup and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until they float to the top. OR just toss dumplings (about 15-20 at a time) into boiling water until they float to the top. Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon and serve as desired. We like ours served with gravy and meat. 

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10.13.2014

How to Make Pumpkin Puree in the Slow Cooker


Once you start baking with fresh pumpkin puree you will never go back to the canned stuff. Not only is it way cheaper, it tastes better, it is fresher, moister, and SO easy to make yourself. 
Below you will find a few easy steps so you can start stockpiling your pumpkin puree just like I do. 
Step 1: Pick your pumpkin. I like to use sugar pie pumpkins. 
Step 2: Split said pumpkin in half. 
Step 3: Using a spoon scrape seeds and stringy junk from the center of the each pumpkin half. 
 
Step 4: Place pumpkin halves cut side down into the bottom of your slow cooker. If you can not fit them both in, quarter the pieces (or more cuts if needed) so you can fit the whole pumpkin in.  Place slow cooker on high for about 2-3 hours. Or until a fork can easily be inserted through skin of the pumpkin. 
Step 5: Allow pumpkin to cool a tad so you can handle it easily. Scrape pulp into a bowl and discard pumpkin skin. 
Step 6: Use a fork to mash pumpkin until it is lump free. 
Store pumpkin puree in freezer proof dishes or bags and keep up to a year in the freezer. Thaw when ready to use. 
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10.12.2014

Pumpkin Pretzel Sticks




My oldest son is a carbaholic. That boy will eat any fresh baked bread product that comes his way. The excitement in his voice when he comes running up the stairs shouting, "Do I smell rolls baking?!?!" Makes my time in the kitchen so worth it.

Though who can blame him? Fresh bread IS the best. He is also a huge fan of warm pretzels, but I rarely make them at home. So this past rainy weekend, we were all home staying warm as the kids get over nasty colds, and mom makes batch, after batch of pumpkin pretzels.


Keeping the oven going all weekend helped me get on top of some baking I needed to do for the blog, however, the dark dreary days are less than stellar lighting conditions for shooting photos of food. So  can I just talk about how obsessed I am with taking photos with my iPhone rather than lugging out my DSLR? I'm finding it much easier to create the style photo I love using the vscocam app, and it is SO much easier to get right during these darker months.



Now as for these pretzel sticks,  most people would opt to add cinnamon and sugar to their pumpkin pretzels, most recipes I have seen have gone that route. However I opted for traditional sea salt because I have big plans of dipping my warm pretzel sticks into buttery and sweet caramel sauce. The salty sweet mixture is just too good.

Pumpkin Pretzel Sticks

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup warm water
1 packet of Red Star Platinum Yeast
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs kosher salt
4-5 cups high gluten flour (something like King Arthur's Sir Lancelot Flour. If you can't find that, use bread flour or AP)
Large pot of boiling water
1/2 cup baking soda
Sea salt for topping

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 425, and bring a large pot of water and the baking soda to a boil.

 In a small bowl, mix yeast, 1 tbs sugar and 1 cup of warm water and allow to sit until the yeast starts to bubble (about 5 minutes).

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine slightly cooled melted butter, maple syrup, yeast mixture, pumpkin puree, salt an 4 cups of flour.

Mix on medium/low speed with your dough hook.

Continue mixing until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If it is too sticky, add additional flour.

Turn dough out in to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll into a long "snake" about 18 inches long.
Fold in half and twist dough creating a rope like appearance.

Cut each "rope" in half and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Drop 1-3 pretzels  into the boiling water (make sure they each have enough room) for about 30 seconds.

Remove from boiling water, place on a paper towel to dry just a bit. Transfer boiled pretzels to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown all over.

Remove from oven, and serve warm.



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