maple walnut candied pumpkin

October 27, 2010 § 5 Comments

After having recently tried a Turkish pumpkin dessert called kabak tatlısı (pot-roasted pumpkin slices in sugar syrup), I was inspired to create a similar recipe with true north Canadian flair.

I am positively partial to the flavor of maple syrup, Canada’s quintessential ingredient (sugar syrup pales in comparison).  As you know, when there’s maple syrup, walnuts are not far behind.  Maple walnut is an irrefutable natural pairing, and just the right combination for pumpkin.  So with maple syrup and walnuts in hand, I adapted my own Canadian version of Turkey’s candied pumpkin.  I also thought it fit to take it to the oven for roasting, which makes for a firmer texture than a long simmer in the pot.

12 pieces pumpkin slices, 1/2″ x 4″

1/4 c maple syrup

1/2 c walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 c yellow sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin slices in maple syrup until well coated.

3. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts and yellow sugar.

4. In a greased baking sheet, arrange the pumpkin slices and generously top with the walnut-sugar mixture.

5.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool and serve.

pumpkin panna cotta

October 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

With a recent post on my indulgences in Italy, I think it’s clear that I have no reservations about Italian fare.  I am so fond of the wonderful texture of panna cotta, and consider it a great base for a pumpkin dessert.  What I love most about panna cotta is that it’s an effortless undertaking.

I find the key to making this pumpkin panna cotta tasting much like pumpkin pie is in the spices and use of evaporated milk, as used in pumpkin pie.  The mini bundt molds create a perfect pumpkin-like finish!

1/4 c water

2 tbsp gelatin

2 c roasted pumpkin, puréed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

1 c table cream

1 c evaporated milk

1/2 c sugar

1. In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in water for 5 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  You can substitute the individual spices with pumpkin spice.

3. In a sauce pan, combine cream, milk, and sugar and simmer over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add dissolved gelatin, pumpkin purée, and whisk.  Simmer for 5 minutes and pour into a greased mini bundt tray with 6 molds.  Chill in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours or until set.  To unmold, fill a 9 x 13″ baking pan with 1″ of hot water and place the bundt tray into the water for 2-3 seconds.  Serve chilled.

pumpkin butter

October 25, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’m happy to start this pumpkin week with an item for breakfast.

Flavored butters have been in fashion for some time and are now a culinary staple.  I remember a meal this summer at The Rotunda at the top of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, where their darling popovers were served with strawberry butter.  Last month, at a friend’s wedding at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, the bread basket was paired with strawberry butter and basil pesto butter.

Here’s my own flavored butter — pumpkin, of course!  Now I’m aware that there is such a thing as “pumpkin butter” that is not really made of butter, instead it’s a pumpkin puree spread.  This is not what I have here.  What I have here is a very swift, simple, and savory butter spread blended with pumpkin purée and nutmeg, for use on breads, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, scones.  Indeed, gourdmet!!

This easy recipe requires:

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c roasted pumpkin, puréed

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blend the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over a ramekin or mold.  I used a rubber pumpkin ice tray I picked up from, of course, nowhere else other than my favorite, Dollarama.  If pouring into a rubber or silicone mold, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes or until firm.  This will ensure the shape is solid.  Remove from mold, thaw in refrigerator, and serve at room temperature.  Or if using a ramekin, set in refrigerator and serve at room temperature.

pumpkin week

October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

Exactly one week before Halloween!!!  And in reverence for my favorite season, my favorite holiday, and my favorite food (well, one of, as I have plenty), I am declaring this week PUMPKIN WEEK!   I certainly hope you have picked your pumpkins.  I know I’ve picked mine, resulting in my kitchen’s transformation into a chaotic laboratory of  sorts.  I have been engrossed in developing a handful of fantastic pumpkin recipes for you.  By the end of the week, we can aptly call ourselves gourdmands!!  He he.  Stay tuned!

At the Cooper's Farm pumpkin patch: O.T. and I found ourselves in a vestige of pumpkins. Perhaps a little late in the season, we still managed to find many in great shape.

halloween balloon body parts

October 22, 2010 § 17 Comments

halloween balloon eyes, brain, and fingersHooray for the last weekend before Halloween!  If you haven’t yet prepared your party decorations, this is your chance to do so.

This is my version of Halloween balloons.   I’ve seen many of those orange balloons with pumpkin faces and white balloons with ghost faces and think they’re delightfully cute, but I figured perhaps too cute for some.  So I wanted to take Halloween balloon-making up a notch: balloon body parts.  Last night, I picked up my markers and, like a little kid, colored away.

Hang the eyes from the ceiling and give your guests that creepy sensation of being watched.  Stick the witch’s fingers on walls and doors to give the illusion of sneaking in.

For this eye-catching project and a brainless good time, all you will need are:

Balloons (9″ round white for eyes, 9″ round peach or light pink for brains, long green – the ones used for balloon animals – for witch’s fingers)

Broad chisel tip markers (in green, blue, black, and red)

Styrofoam bowl and cup, for tracing the eye’s iris (cut away the rim of the bowl so it can sit on the balloon while tracing)

witch’s candy-filled cauldron

October 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

Here is a wickedly easy craft that will have you flying off the handle!

There is a substantial collection of disposable plastic lidded bowls in my cupboard (thanks to Costco’s tasty frozen shrimp wonton soup).  I’ve been saving the bowls and their lids for this year’s Halloween favors: candy-filled witch’s cauldrons.

You will need the following materials, apart from double-sided tape and a glue gun:

a. Black bowl and lid.  If you haven’t tried Costco’s frozen shrimp wonton soup, I highly recommend it.   It comes with 6 black bowls with lids, the delicious soup is a bonus!  :p  Of course, if your cupboards are bursting with food containers, you can grab a bowl and lid between 3-1/2″ – 4-1/2″ in diameter and paint the exterior black.

b. Yellow paper, colored with shades of orange/red for flames.  Cut along the outline of the flames and make sure to leave about an inch of space at the bottom for adhesives.

c. 4 wine corks.

d. A handful of decorative spider web.  There is plenty at dollar stores this time of year.

e. Black pen and 2″ pieces of raffia, enough to cover the pen cap.  Glue the raffia on the cap and have a piece of raffia to tie it for a finished look.  This will be the witch’s broomstick.

Putting it together is easy:

1. Using double-sided tape, adhere the flames around the bottom and along the sides of the bowl.

2. Randomly adhere the wine corks to the bottom of the bowl using  a glue gun.

3. Cut a small hole through the lid, large enough for the pen to slide through.  Dot some glue on the top of the lid, and adhere the spider web for a bubbling look.  Make sure you slide the pen through the lid before closing.

Don’t forget to fill with eerie treats.  I used gummy witches’ fingers from my favorite dollar store, Dollarama.

itsy bitsy box!

October 3, 2010 § 14 Comments

Not looking for a trick this Halloween?  This spider favor box is a happy creature filled with fun treats and yours to make and give away.   I crafted the box out of simple black cardstock using a template I designed.  You can download the template here.  It is easy to assemble with cut lines and score lines for folding.  Simply fill with your favorite treats.  I love Reese’s Pieces for their colors and even more for their peanut butter goodness!

Here are step-by-step instructions after downloading the template:

1. Print and cut the template and trace onto a sheet of letter-size black cardstock.  The heavier weight, the sturdier, the better. Make sure to cut carefully along the solid lines and not to cut on the dotted lines, as those are for folding.

2. Once you have everything cut out, fold the triangular flaps up, while making sure the fangs are left flat.

3. Fold the curved sides up, and leave the legs flat.

4. Pinch the triangular flaps through the top slits of each side, one by one.  Make sure to fill your box with treats before folding the second side.

5. Fold down the tops of the triangles to close.  Pinch the legs so that they are bent.  For eyes, I used orange cardstock and black gemstones which I picked up from the dollar store.

It is adorable and so simple.   Kids and adults alike will enjoy this little project.  No tricks needed!

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