Pumpkin Perfection

By Melinda J. Hill, CFCS, CFLE
Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
OSU Extension, Wayne County

Warm days in October have lengthened our fall produce season by a couple of weeks for everyone to enjoy, but we all know that our fall harvest will soon be over when we have a killing frost.  The pumpkins and squash along with apples and cider bring fall aromas from the kitchen.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a couple of new things to add to our family meals and these fall fruits and vegetables are wonderful additions.  As you look for recipes, try to find those that have low fat ingredients and use methods of preparation that roast, bake, grill or microwave to limit the necessity of adding fat like breading and frying.  Here’s a recipe I’m going to try from the University of Illinois Extension, to give a little variety to weekend breakfast with the family or snack/dessert to take to the next family gathering.  Hope you will try them too! Pumpkin (or Squash) Pancakes
These pancakes can be prepared Butternut Squash, Hubbard Squash or other variety of winter squash. Use canned pumpkin puree, freshly prepared puree, or frozen puree which has been thawed. Cold leftover pancakes are an appetizing snack.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans or hazelnuts, optional
Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, beat egg slightly. Add pumpkin or squash puree, molasses or syrup, milk or buttermilk and melted butter or margarine. Mix until smooth.
  3. Blend in the dry ingredients all at once. Mix until batter is smooth. Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes or more.
  4. Stir nuts into batter, and add additional tablespoon of buttermilk or milk if batter is too thick.
  5. To make pancakes, spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter onto a lightly greased preheated griddle or heavy skillet. With the back of the spoon, flatten batter to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cook slowly until bubbles appear on top and bottom is golden brown. Lift edge to check. Turn and cook until other side is golden brown.
  6. Place on a platter and set platter in a warm oven. Continue making pancakes until all batter is used. Makes about 24, 3-inch pancakes. Serves 4 to 6 people. Garnish with powdered sugar or serve with corn syrup, maple syrup or your favorite pancake syrup.

Pumpkin Nut Bars

1 cup cooked pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
2 cups oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup chopped salted peanuts, pecans, or almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat egg whites slightly; add pumpkin and melted butter or margarine beat until smooth. In another bowl combine oats, brown sugar, coconut, wheat germ, and nuts. Fold oat mixture into pumpkin mixture to form stiff dough. Press dough into a lightly greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch jelly roll pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. While still warm, cut into 2×3 inch bars. Yield about 30 bars. Serve warm or cool completely.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I always get questions this time of year on how to roast the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are especially good, but squash can be done too.  Wash and drain them well.  Spread on a jelly roll pan in a single layer and spray lightly with vegetable oil.  Season as desired with salt, chili powder, seasoned salt, etc.  Roast in a low oven (250 degrees) for about an hour or until they are crisp and dry.

These are a great snack or you can even save them for an art project on a rainy day.  They are a wonderful small muscle task for young children.  They can play with them in a bowl or glue them to a paper plate along with dried leaves, acorns, pine needles, corn kernels, or anything else they may gather on a nature hike.

We all have a daily routine that we follow to some degree.  We also have a diet routine or food habits that we also get into.  I urge you today to try something new.  Treat your family to one of these fall vegetables and maybe it will become a family favorite.  Here’s one of ours:

Terra Cotta Bread Pans
Terra Cotta Bread Pans

Pumpkin Bread

1 16-oz. can pumpkin
3 ½ cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
½ cup oil
2 tsp. Baking soda
½ cup applesauce
½ t. salt
2/3 cup orange juice or cider
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice until well blended.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture; beat until smooth.  Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until bread tests done.  Remove bread from pans and cool on a wire rack.

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