Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkins…The Why

Not only does pumpkin make such awesome treats to eat and enjoy, pumpkin can also be enjoyed as a treat to help you feel pampered and relaxed.

Why should you consider using pumpkin in your “beauty routine” in the first place?

Pumpkin is packed with vitamins—such as vatima B, vitamin C, and vitamin E… as well as beta-carotene. This means that it helps promotes healthy skin and hair.

Other ingredients commonly found in these products…or used when you’re making your own…include…

 

1.Coconut or Olive Oil…These both moisturize the skin, act as an antioxidant, and keep your skin looking younger.

2. Spices…Not only is the “aromatherapy” of the spices rejuvenating, awakening, warm, and comforting…cinnamon also stimulates better blood circulation all over the body and brings blood to the surface of the skin…resultting in plumper skin with a healthier glow, as well as healthier hair.

3. Sugar…Sugar helps the skin retain moisture and gently exfoliates dead skin away.

4. Vitamin E…Vitamin E not only benefits your skin, but also extends the shelf life of your ingredients.

 

 

Not only that…these cosmetics and concoctions will enable you to enjoy the sweet, nostalgic aroma of pumpkin all year long.

 

 

So first let’s look at what I call OTBC products…those Over the Beauty Counter products…and then we’ll talk about a few ideas that you yourself can make at home.

 


Acure-Energizing Body Wash,,,availabile at Target or Kroger…ungredients iunclude organic Argan oil, sea buckthorn oil, Moroccan Argan stem cells, coq10, and pumpkin seed oil

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Desert Essence Organics Hand & Body Lotion–Pumpkin Spice—…available at Sprouts…other fragrance options—Island Mango, Italian Lemon, Tropical Coconut, Coconut Lime, Bulgarian Lavender, and Spicy Vanilla Chai

 One Love Organics,,,available at Nieman Marcus…ingredients include pumpkin seed oil, sunflower seed oil, green tea seed oil, kelp extract, sea buckthorn oil, chia seed extract, rosemary leaf extract, and rooibos tea extract

 

 

 

Other OTBC products containing pumpkin in some form of fashion include…

 

—Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Super Smooth Body Lotion…available at Bath and Body Works…(go figure)

 

—Burt’s Bees® Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, Pumpkin Spice with Beeswax, $2.97, available at W-almart

—EcoLove Shampoo Orange Collection

Ecosevi Pumpkin Seed Shampoo-

—Good Earth Beauty Shampoo Pumpkin Chai Natural…available at Amazon

—Hempz Pumpkin Spice & Vanilla Chai Body Moisturizer…available at Ulta

—Native Deodorant Kit…available at Native

—Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer…available at Sephora

—Sara Happ Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub Kit…available at QVC

 

 

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Now as far as DIY ideas…

Pumpkin Body Scrub…Combine…

    • 1C brown sugar
    • 1/2C coconut oil, room temp
      1Tbsp cinnamon
      1 vitamin E capsule
    • ½C pumpkin puree

Scoop body scrub into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to four days. Before using, let the mixture come back it warm up to room temp and stir if needed.

This scrub is best when used immediately because the longer it sits, the more the sugar will dissolve and the less exfoliating the body scrub will become.

The scrub will last for about two months as long as the airtight container hasn’t been opened.

 

 

Pumpkin Hair Conditioner…Combine the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4C yogurt
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil

Pumpkin Hair Serum…This hair serum helps repair dead ends and control “fly-away” hair.  Using apricot seed oil instead of pumpkin oil keeps the pumpkin oil from making your hair feel so weighted because the oil is so much lighter.

To use the serum, lightly spritz water in your hair…and then comb the pumpkin serum through your hair.

Pumpkin Hot Oil Treatment…Combine equal amounts of coconut oil and pumpkin puree. Heat on top of your oven over low heat. Let cool slightly. Apply to soaking wet hair, working from the ends to the roots. Wrap hair in a hot towel, Wait twenty minutes. Rinse well.

Pumpkin Oil Hair Vitamin Mist…Fill a spray bottle with two ounces of pumpkin seed oil and 1Tbsp coconut oil. Fill the bottle with distilled water. Shake before each use.

Pumpkin Puree Hair Mask…Mix together…

  • 1tsp argan oil
  • ½C pumpkin puree
    2tsp coconut or olive oil (unrefined)
    1tsp cinnamon
    1 Vitamin E capsule

Apply the concoction on your hair, making sure to cover your strands from tip to roots. Put on a shower cap to keep the goop from dripping all over while you wait. Wait at least 25 minutes before shampooing your hair. Use this mask once or twice a week to help make your hair soft, shiny and silky.

Pumpkin Seed Oil Hair Mask,,,Another option as far as a hair mask would be to use…

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
1/2 apple puree
1 tbsp. shea butter
1 egg

Process half of the apple in your blender. Add shea butter and pumpkin seed oil. Whisk egg by itself. Stir the egg into the mixture. Apply to freshly washed hair. Leave in for twenty minutes. Rinse out.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Perfect Pumpkin Treats To Please Peter Piper Pumpkin Eater

Now for a collection of pumpkin recipes that I have posted previously on my blog…just in time for pumpkin season…

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Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1/4C pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2C wheat germ
  • 1/3C honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3C white chocolate morsels

Combine all ingredients. Chill 30min. Roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge.

 

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Pumpkin Muesli

Making your own muesli is more of a math formula…4C grains…to 1-1/2C nuts/seeds…to 1/2C  dried fruit.

 

The Grains…4CGrains make up the base of your muesli. Typically rolled oats are used to make muesli because they have a nice texture and thickness, but you could also use any other grain—including wheat bran, whole rye, whole barley, sorghum flakes, quinoa flakes, millet puffs, and millet flakes. The grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt.

The first thing that you will need to do when making your muesli is to toast the grains in your at 350 for a few minutes. This will make your oats more aromatic and crispier.

 

 

The Nuts/Seeds…1C,,,Nuts not only give your muesli a delicious crunch,. but also make your muesli healthier because of their omega-3 fatty acids and protein content..

Choose any nut, seed, or combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

The more nuts you throw in, the crunchier (and more expensive) it will be.

Not only do you want to toast your grains before stirring all of your ingredients together, you also want to toast the nuts to give them extra crunch and flavor.

As you are toasting them, never add oil, butter, or any other liquid to the pan. Toasting the nuts will release the natural oils in the grains…so adding anything extra will make your muesli greasy.

 

Nuts and seeds that you might consider using include…

  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

The Dried Fruit…1C…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli….

The more fruit you add, the sweeter and chewier it will be. Add only enough fruit to make your granola taste sweeter…but not so much that your granola is too sweet.

Do not add fresh fruit to your muesli because this will make your muesli too soft and make it “turn bad” faster. Use only dried fruit at this point. Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.

Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like. A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

The Spices…If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices—such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.

Once you finish making your meusli, add some spices—such as a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vanilla bean—in the container with your muesli to infuse your meusli with even more flavor.

 

Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.

 

Stirring Your MuesliNow that you have chosen your ingredients, put all of them into a container. Close the container. Shake until everything is combined.

 

Storing Your Muesli…Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

 

Serving Your Muesli…Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli with 2/3C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

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Pumpkin Bread

  • Flour…2C…
  • Baking Powder……2tsp
  • Salt…1tsp
  • Sugar…1C granulated or brown sugar (or combination of both)
  • Eggs…2…
  • Fat….1/4C  butter, olive oil, or vegetable oil
  • Milk…1C milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Line one 9″x5″ loaf pan or three 6″x3″ mini pans with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides so that you can easily remove the bread from the pan once it finishes cooking. Coat well with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center.

Combine liquid ingredients. Add them into the well that you made in the dry ingredients.

Mix the ingredients together. Mixing the ingredients by hand gives your bread batter better texture and appearance than using a mixer…but be careful not to over mix your batter so that you bread won’t turn out tough. Your goal in whisking is to to break up any clumps in the flour and aerate the mix for a lighter loaf….so leave the batter lumpy and even with a few streaks of flour still showing.

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Pumpkin Seed Brittle

  • 1C sugar
  • 1/2C water
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3/4C green pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4C bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4C chopped pumpkin seeds
  • large-flake sea salt

Bring first three ingredients to a boil. Cook until candy thermometer reads 238ºF. Remove from heat. Stir in green pumpkin seeds with a wooden spoon. Stir 5min.  Return pan to medium heat. Cook stirring constantly, 5 minutes.

Pour hot mixture onto parchment paper covered surface. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll mixture between these two sheets of parchment paper as thinly as possible with rolling pin.

Let cool until firm. Break into pieces. Cool brittle completely.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Dip cooled brittle in chocolate.  Sprinkle with 1/4C chopped pumpkin seeds and large-flake sea salt. Let cool until chocolate is firm.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Collecting the Seeds…As you are carving or cutting the pumpkin to use for whatever else, collect the seeds of your pumpkin in a colander as you get them out. Once you have collected the seeds, rinse them under cold running water to remove any pulp and fiber. Pat them dry with paper towels as you spread them out on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Seasoning the SeedsToss the seeds with salt and either melted butter or olive oil.

A few more ideas for adding even more flavor to your pumpkin seeds are….

  • Italian…2Tbsp melted butter, ¼C grated Parmesan, ½tsp Italian seasoning
  • Savory…2Tbsp melted butter, 1tsp seasoned salt, 1tsp white vinegar (add vinegar after roasting)
  • Spicy…2Tbsp olive oil, ½tsp Cajun seasoning, ½tsp fresh lime zest (add zest after roasting)​
  • Sweet…2Tbsp melted butter, 1Tbsp brown sugar, ½tsp cinnamon

Prepping the Oven…Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pre-boiling…Many people boil their pumpkin seeds before roasting them in order to make them extra crispy, but this can be skipped if you need to.

Baking…Roast the pumpkin seeds at 200 degrees for 20min…until light golden brown and crisp, stirring once.

Cooling...Cool at least 10min before serving.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Great Pumpkin…and What’s So Great About It?

So are pumpkins merely for setting by your door every Halloween…and perhaps using a can of pumpkin to make pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving?

Actually no…they have far too much nutritional value to keep on the back burner…or out of your oven…

Pumpkins are actually packed with vitamins and minerals such as…

 

 

 

1.Antioxidants.…Pumpkins contain antioxidants—specially the carotenoids alpha-carotene and beta-carotene—as evident by their bright orange color.

Beta-carotene is especially important because it is easily converted into vitamin A…which in turn triggers the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.

As far as health, antioxidants may reduce your risk of developing certain illnesses, such as…

  • age-related macular degeneration
  • asthma.
  • certain types of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer
  • degenerative damage to the eyes
  • diabetes
  • heart disease

As far as beauty, antioxidants help reverse UV damage and improve skin texture.

 

 

2. Calories...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 49 calories.

 

3. Carbohydrates...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 12.01 grams of carbohydrates.

 

4.Cholesterol…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains no cholesterol.

 

5.Fat…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 0.17 g of fat..

 

6. Fiber…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 2.7 g of fiber, while canned pumpkin provides over 7 grams of fiber….helping you reach the recommended daily allowant for fiber intake of between 25 and 30 grams.

Fiber is important for slowing the rate of sugar absorption into the blood…promoting regular bowel movements…and supporting the digestive system in general.

 

7. Protein…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 1.76 grams of protein.

 

 

 

8. Vitamins

Vitamin AOne cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains more than 200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A….whicv is very important if you don’t want to grow bald before you’re fifty.

Vitamin B…Pumpkin is a good source of most of the B vitamins—such as niacin, riboflavin, B6 and folate. This makes pumpkin great for treating acne, improving circulation, and increasing cell turn over and renewal.

Vitamin C…Vitamin C helps prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, promotes collagen production, and improves skin tone and elasticity….also strengthens hair follicles….

Vitamin C...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 19% of the RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the immune system, especially important on days like today when the temperature is lunging from 85 degrees today to about 50 degrees tomorrow….

Vitamin E…Vitamin E stimulates blood circulation in the scalp, which then promotes hair growth also.

 

 

 

9. Minerals…Pumpkin contains extensive amounts of two vital minerals—potassium.. and zinc.

Potassium helps promote healthy hair and regrowth….while zinc prevents and treats flaking, irritation, and itching scalp.

Other Nutrients…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 10% or more riboflavin…and 5% of thiamine, folate, and pantothenic acid,

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkins…The Which

Ghosts and goblins, squash and pumpkins

Found on every aisle

As the shippers rush home with their treasures

Hear the whispers, see the costumes

Sitting there on display…

And above all this bustle you hear

 

 

Halloween, Halloween…

It’s creepy time in the city.

Hslloween, Halloween…

Soon it will be Halloween.

 

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

See the kids walking by

At each door they will ask for some candy.

Hear them all say “Please” and “Thank You”

As they say “Trick or Treat”

Soon it will be Halloween.

 

Halloween, Halloween…

It’s creepy time in the city.

Halloween, Halloween…

Soon it will be Halloween.

(Original poem written by yours truly…think of it as corny or creative…your choice)

 

 

This is the only time all year that you will see the color orange plastered everywhere you look. Suddenly you look up, and there’s almost as much orange to be as you look around as there is green.

I personally love this time of year because pumpkins are about the only food out there with such a sweet, cinnamon-y taste…a taste that reminds of us Halloween and Thanksgivings as we were growing up.

Read the next few posts for some ideas for great homemade gifts to give your  neighbors, teachers, and whoever gives me an unexpected gift during the upcoming holiday season.

These posts will highlight ways to cook with pumpkin…make awesome coffee…decorate…and stir up your own DIY beauty concoctions, such as hair masks and facials.

But first let’s take a brief look at which pumpkins to buy so that you don’t end up leaving the produce section with a lemon.

Going to the closest pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkin(s_ can actually end up being more stressful than you would think.

Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by all of these small round spheres in all  sorts of colors and sizes…

Which one should you actually buy?

Let’s take a quick look at your options, and your best bets.

 

 

 

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The Gray Ones

Kakai...These are the gray ones with orange stripes or ribbing…even though these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted.

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The Green Ones

Fairytale…These are the flat, dark green ones with deep vertical ribbing that are about 15″ around and 6″ high and weight anywhere from twenty to thirty pounds. Use these for cooking, especially for baking pumpkin pies.

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The Orange Ones

Baby Bear…These are the flat orange ones out of this grouping…and are best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and using as a bown to serve soupf, stews, and chili.

Baby Pam…These are the deep orange, ir yellow if immature. .very smooth ones. These supposedly have a sugary, starchy, string-less, and dry flesh…choose these if you are willing to spend the extra time prepping the pumpking.

Long Island Cheese…These are the pale yellow or orange ones that .have light vertical ribbing on their exterior.

Musee de Provence:…These are the yellow-orange ones with deep and distinct vertical ribbing. These are great for snacking on because they have a rich, sweet, creamy, taste. In fact slices of this pumpkin are often sold in French markets.

Tiger…These are the flat yellow ones that have orange mottling that are about 5″ around and 3″ high in size. They have a recessed stem and deep vertical ribbing the top that fades at the bottom

Winter Luxury…These are pale orange round ones with a unique netted-looking

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The Red Ones

Lakota…These are the red ones with green and black markings and light ribbing…and supposedly they taste like butternut squash.

 

 

 

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The White Ones

Baby Boo…These are the bright white palm-sized ones out of the group. Supposedly their flesh is inedible…so use these only for…decorating.

Casper…These are the bright white ones that are .more round than squat…and have slight ribbing on their exterior.

Lumina…These are the bright white., smooth ones.

Marina Di Chioggia…These are the squat green ones that have a thick and warty​ skin. They are actually a favorite for cooking because they have such a sweet flavor.

White Ghost…These are the pure white, squat ones.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect French Toast Casserole

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The Ingredients


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Instructions

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkin, Pumpkin…Good for Your Skin

I’m sure that I’m not the only one disappointed that Pumpkin Season has alreadty come and gone…

Soon to be replaced with Turkey Season and Peppermint Season…

Not to mention deer season, right?!…or make that Deer Season Widow season for many of us…

But anyway, what’s a woman to do while her husband is out shooting Bambi…yeah, I know that if I have any vegan or vegetarian readers out there, even the very thought of shooting Bambi has probably made you hurt…but I AM from Mississiippi and am being read.

Anyway, one thing that I do while he is out hunting or fishing or whatever it may be at this time of year is start to think of and make homemade Christmas gifts to give to neighbors, teachers, and whoever gives me an unexpected gift.

This year I have embraced the pumpkin season totally and completely, as you can probably tell by recent posts.

So to kill at least two birds with one stone I have decided to make jars of body scrub to give away as gifts this year.

I wrote a blog a while back about making your own body scrub…called   Rub-a-Dub-Dub…Why Use a Sugar Scrub?! with several different ideas as far as scents to use.

But this time, I wanted to focus only on pumpkins so that those of us who are watching our Most Wonderful Time of the Year—PSL season—walk away  could continue to enjoy the sweet aroma of pumpkin all year long…

And in a much more intimate way…

 

Homemade sugar scrubs are very inexpensive.

And not only that…

Homemade sugar scrubs contain ingredients that you actually know what are…and ingredients that offer benefits for your skin.

 

 

Ingredients such as…

Pumpkin Puree…Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. When used topically, it promotes healthy skin and hair.

Coconut or Olive Oil…Coconut oil and olive oil moisturize the skin, act as an antioxidant properties, and keep your skin looking younger.

Spices…The aromatherapy of the spices are rejuvenating, awakening, warm, and comforting. Not only that, cinnamon stimulates blood vessels, brings blood to the surface of the skin, results in plumper skin with a healthy glow, and is an excellent natural treatment for eczema, and acne.

Sugar…Sugar helps the skin retain moisture and gently exfoliates dead skin away.

Vitamin E…Vitamin E not only benefits your skin, but also extends the shelf life of your ingredients.

 

Ingredients

  • 1C brown sugar
  • 1/2C coconut oil
    1Tbsp cinnamon
    1 vitamin E capsule
  • ½C pumpkin puree

 

Combine ingredients. Note that the coconut oil will be easier to mix if it is at room temperature. Scoop body scrub into an airtight container with a lid to store.

Storage…This scrub is best when used immediately because the longer it sits, the more the sugar will dissolve and the less exfoliating the body scrub will become.

The scrub will last for about two months as long as the airtight container hasn’t been opened. Store in the fridge and use within four days after opening.,

Before using, let the mixture come back it warm up to room temp and stir if needed.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Senoritas with Pepitas and Margaritas

Fresh pumpkins, like fresh coconuts, can often be a “pain in the butt” and is something that most of us are going to do very rarely…like probably once a year at Halloween.

So the very few times that we do actually chop the head off and then dive into its “skull” with a metal object, let’s be sure to take full advantage of this moment.

By gathering the seeds and roasting them.

(Sure, I know you can buy pumpkin seed all year long, but we are trying to progress into a zero-waste country, so how dare you simply throw them away?)

Those pumpkin seeds that so many of us simply throw away actually make a healthy, delicious snack…not to mention a key ingredient in many gourmet entrees—especially in countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

1.Choosing Your Pumpkin…You can roast the seeds of any pumpkin, but if you’re actually going to cook with the pumpkin, be sure to read my previous posts.

2. Finding the Rest of the Stuff That You Will NeedIn addition to the obvious pumpkin, you will need a sharp knife, an ice cream scoop, a colander, and a towel..

3. Prepping the PumpkinHow you get your seeds out of your pumpkin depends on what you are planning to do with the pumpkin itself.

Attack the pumpkin from the top If you’re planning on carving your pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern. Slice the pumpkin in half if you’re planning on roasting it.

Regardless of how you dive into your pumpkin, now use an ice cream scoop to start scraping out the pumpkin guts. In order to get all of the seeds, you’re probably gonna have to actually get your hands into the gooey mess also.

Collect the seeds in a colander as you get them out.

Once you have collected all, or at least most, of the seeds, rinse your seeds under cold running water to remove any pulp and fiber.

Pat the washed seeds dry with paper towels as you are sreading them out on a ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan.

Toss the seeds with melted butter, Himalayan or other natural salt, and pepper.

If you want youtr pumpkin seeds to have more flavor, you could also sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, cinnamon, Cajun seasoning, and/or whatever else you want.

Stir to coat.

4. Prepping the Oven…Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Pre-boilingMany people boil their pumpkin seeds before roasting them in order to make them  extra crispy, but this can be skipped if you need to.

6. Baking…Roast the pumpkin seeds at about 200 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp, stirring once. You could also “roast” your pumpkin seeds in the microwave . To do this, place them in a single layer in a glass pie plate. Microwave them for about two or three  minutes, stirring after each minute, until the seeds are dry and crunchy.

7. Cooling…Cool at least ten minutes before serving.

8. Storing…Once you have roasted your pumpkin seeds and allowed them to cool, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The seeds are usually best within the first two months, even though they may stay edible for several months.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkin Seeds…The What

Pepitas actually differ from regular pumpkin seeds in that they have tender, greenish, soft shells unlike regular pumpkin seeds.

“Pepita” is the Spanish word for pumpkin seeds, but true “pepitas” are very different from what comes out of your traditional jack-o-lanterns.

The word “pepita” in Spanish actually means “little seed of squash”,

These edible seeds of pumpkins and certain other cultivars of squash are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval and flat,, light green in color, and have a white outer hull, or no hull at all.

In fact, true “pepitas” only come from certain types of pumpkins—such as thin-skinned Styrian or oilseed pumpkins—which have shell-free seeds.

Pumpkins, and their seeds, have been traced at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD. From their .having once been a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties, to now being a gourmet ingredient in many key restaurants.

Roasted pumpkins seeds are so delicious and nutritiou, that they should be enjoyed throughout the year, not only during the Halloween season.

In fact, today pepitas are a trendy ingredient, found on just about every hgh-dollar restaurant in America.

The countries that produce the most pumpkins, and so obviously the most pumpkin seeds, are China…and then followed by  India, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, and the United States.

In the United States, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins,…followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York.

Today pumpkins are commercially grown in pretty much every state. In fact, over one thousand acres of American farmland are planted with pumpkins.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Peter Piper Pumpkin Picker

So this is the one and only time all year that all of us, or perhaps most of us at least, buy a pumpkin.

But how many of us would actually recognize the Great Pumpkin if we actually did see it?

1.PassionHalloween should be as fun as possible for your entire family. Don’t be like the lady that we all hate on the movie The Grinch who gets out her tape measure and actually measures the pumkin before buying it.

Never forget that the holidays—not only Halloween, but also Thanksgiving and Christmas—are supposed to be fun, Be passionate about spending time with your family, not spending more money than your neighbors did on the orange globe sitting on your front porches.

2. PerfectionThe pumpkin that you choose doesn’t have to be perfect. Choosing one with bumps and lumps have character.

3.Personal Preference…The perfect pumpkin is that one pumpkin that you or your child could never imagine leaving the PSL without—even though it isn’t the shape or size that everyone else is attracted to. Follow your heart, not the crowd.

4. PigmentationIt is okay if your pumpkin is not a bright orange like the ones that you see on children’s movies and books.

Even though many will say, “the darker the color, the better the pumpkin,” use your common sense here…most of us can tell if a pumkin is the “ugly duckling” of the pumpkin patch.

Just make sure that the top of the pumpkin, specifically around the stem, is not dull, because this indicates frost damage.

5. PitchThe pumpkin that you choose should have a deep, echoing sound when you pick it up, hold the pumpkin next to your ear, and knock on its side with your knuckles.

The louder the sound, the better the pumpkin.

6. PostBy “post” I simply mean the stem, but couldn’t come up with another synonym for the word “stem” that didn’t seem vulgar.

Anyway, the pumpkin that you choose should have a hard, dark green or black stem.

Squeeze the stem to test its firmness. If the stem is soft to the touch, it’s not an ideal pick.

The stem should not bend and break when you pick it up…that would be about like the trunk of the just-chosen Christmas tree snapping in two before you get out of the Christmas Tree lot.

7. Potholes…Gently press on the pumpkin with your finger to make sure that there aren’t any soft spots that indicate that the pumpkin has already started to decay and won’t last much longer.

The pumpkin should be firm all over.

Even though the pumpkin may look perfect from the outside, you do not want to start carving your pumpkin, only to find that it’s rotten.

8.  Profile…Choose an oblong pumpkin, as opposed to a round one. Round or oval pumpkins are easier to carve, have more workspace, and a bigger cavity filled with more seeds.

Choose a pumpkin with a flat bottom that sits well.

9. ProportionIf you are going to be using your pumpkin for baking and cooking, avoid those big pumpkins that are typically sold to be carved into jack-o’-lanterns, regardless of how appealing they may seem.

Those bigger pumpkins are definitely not the best when it comes to cooking and baking. In fact, bigger pumpkins are typically very stringy, bland, and watery.

Instead look for pumpkins that weigh from four to eight pounds and that are labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”—such as Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina , Cinderella, and Fairy Tale.

If only big carving pumpkins are available, choose a winter squash like butternut squash instead, if you will actually be cooking or baking with it.

10. Punctures and Pimples…Choose a pumpkin that has no scrapes, brown spots, bruises, cuts, or holes on its surface. Any of these “punctures and pimples” will make your pumpkin rot faster.

11.Purpose…Choose the thickness of the walls of your pumpkin according to what you will be using for. If you are going to be making a jack o’ lantern, choose a pumpkin with thin walls. If you are going to be cooking with it, choose a pumpkin with thicker walls.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Other PSL

By now if you’re anything like me, you’ve already spent half a paycheck on PSL’s, and your Starbucks membership has jumped from silver to platinum, completely hurdling over silver status.

But today I want to talk to you about another trend of this season…the other PSL…

 

…the Pumpkin Sales Lot…

The first time that I ever went to a “pumpkin patch” worth even mentioning was back when my girls were about five and seven…

That was about twenty years ago.

Up until that day I assumed that all pumpkins were orange and round, maybe even plastic since neither my parents or my husband for some strange reason never bothered to buy and carve the expected jack o’ lantern each Halloween…

We were doing good to simply put the tree up before New Year’s Day and take it down by Easter, right?!

Anyway, there I stood in that great big field of all shapes, colors, and sizes of pumpkins…and there I was with them wanting one of each different type…a white one, a green one, a blue one, a tall one, a squat ones, and obviously an orange one…

I felt the same way that I did when I lived in Germany and would travel places where the only words that I knew were numbers and the only phrases that I could say were…

“Where is the bathroom?”

“How much does it cost?”

Actually that’s the only three things that we need to know if it gets right down to it, right?

Anyway, here I was standing on American soil, speaking my native language, and all I could do was say “two” and point out what I wanted and ask how much it cost?

Flash forward thirty years…

Here I sit, fifty years old, getting ready to take the “resident four year old” to a huge pumpkin patch in the morning.

Hoping not to feel like a foreigner in my own country out in the country looking totally stupid by thinking that all pumpkins had to be orange and round…

So this year I’m brushing up on my pumpkin recognition skills, or at least taking this “cheat sheet” with us.

To keep things simple, I have grouped the most common pumpkins into three obvious, or at least obvious to any true PSL, categories—the tall, the grande, the venti, and the trenta.

And made a quick list of the characteristics of the most common varieties of each size that you are likely to see…

(I had originally planned on doing this as one post listing pumpkin varieties within each size group, but that article would have been longer than the “resident four year old”‘s  Christmas wish list and that of my two college aged daughters…so doing this in three segments)…

So looking at the smallest group of pumpkins first, let’s see what your options are…

  • Size
  • Skin Color
  • Shape
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

The Tall (2 to 8 pounds)

This category—the smallest available “cup”— probably are best suited for decorating the porch or front steps. even though these smallest pumpkins have a great tasting, buttery flesh that makes the very best pies, cookies, baked treats, soups-, and almost any other recipe originally calling for squash.

But if you don’t feel like taking the time to prep two dozen different pumpkins, you could always simply carve it, paint it, or hollow it out and stick a flower into it…

1.Baby Bear

  • Best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds…also makes an attractive bowl for serving soup, stews, and chili
  • Size…one to two pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange
  • Shape…flattened

2.  Baby Boo

  • Best for…decorating because it’s supposedly inedible
  • Size…typically the size of your palm
  • Skin Color…bright white; which tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep

4.  Baby Pam

  • Best for…pies because of its sugary, starchy, string-less, dry flesh
  • Size…three to four pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange, yellow if immature
  • Texture…very smooth

5. Casper

  • Best for…pies and baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Shape…more round than squat
  • Vertical Ribbing…slight ribbing

6.  Kakai

  • Best for…Although these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted
  • Size…five to eight pounds
  • Skin Color…gray with orange stripes or ribbing

7. Lakota

  • Best for…its butternut squash-like flavor.
  • Size…five to seven pounds
  • Skin Color…red with green and black markings
  • Vertical Ribbing… light

8. Long Island Cheese

  • Size…six to ten pounds
  • Skin Color…pale yellow or orange
  • Shelf Life…up to a year
  • Flesh Color…bright, deep orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…light

9.  Lumina

  • Best for…baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Texture…smooth
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

10.  Marina Di Chioggia

  • Best for…having a sweet flavor that makes it a favorite for cooking
  • Size…six to twelve pounds
  • Skin Color…green
  • Shape…squat
  • Texture…thick and warty​ skin
  • Flesh Color…yellow/orange

11.  Musee de Provence:

  • Best for…snacking because it actually has a rich, sweet, creamy, taste…often sold in slices in French markets
  • Skin Color…pale orange-yellow
  • Flesh Color…yellow-orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep and distinct

12.  Tiger

  • Size…about 5″ around and 3″ high
  • Skin Color…yellow with orange mottling
  • Shape…flat with recessed stem
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep at the top, then fading at the bottom

13.  White Ghost

  • Skin Color…pure white
  • Shape…squat
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

14.  Winter Luxury

  • Best for…baking
  • Size…up to six pounds
  • Skin Color…unique netted-looking pale orange
  • Shape…round
  • Shelf Life
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

Other varieities of  these smaller pumpkins that you might encounter include…

  • Baby Boo (white)
  • Jack-Be-Little (standard orange miniature)
  • Jack-Be-Quick (taller, darker orange)
  • Munchkin (uniform, attractive orange fruit)
  • Sweetie Pie (small, scalloped, medium orange fruit)
  • Lil’ Ironsides F1
  • Magic Lantern
  • Lil’ Pump-Ke- Mon F1
  • Merlin F1
  • Howden
  • Howden Biggie
  • Gold Rush
  • Mystic
  • Spooktacular
  • Tallman
  • Early Autumn