Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pumpkin Pumpkin Everywhere!

I'm finally just about settled in to my new condo! I still have some things to buy and some decorating to do, but for the most part, everything is in its place! I even started doing some stamping this weekend - I missed it! I'll share some of those cards later tonight or tomorrow, but for now I thought I'd blog about food!

I love this time of year and all the food that's associated with it. I especially love anything pumpkin so when I saw recipes for pumpkin chili and pumpkin cornbread on the Recipe Girl website, I knew I needed to make them. I'll post the recipes with some comments on changes I made, but check out Recipe Girl for literally thousands of recipes that all look so so good!

Pumpkin Chili
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
Two 14½oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 cup pure pumpkin pureé
1 Tbs ground chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin seed
½ tsp ground black pepper
dash of salt
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream

1. Brown ground beef in large sauté pan with onion, green pepper and garlic. Spoon off grease.
2. Return to heat and add tomatoes, pumpkin, chili powder, cumin, pepper and salt. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
3. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream.

My notes:
  • I used ground chicken instead of beef because it was cheaper, but it's also a slightly healthier alternative.
  • I put at least 3 Tbsp of chili powder in my regular chili recipe, so the 1 Tbsp called for here seemed like not enough to me. I added a little bit extra - not too much because I was hoping to have the pumpkin flavor shine through, so I probably put in about 1.5 Tbsp
  • I cooked this in my crockpot, so I did not cook the onions, garlic, and peppers with the meat. I browned the chicken and drained off the grease, and just threw the vegetables right into the crockpot after chopping them. I let it cook on low for about 5 hours.

The verdict: This was very good as far as flavor goes, but I did not detect any trace of pumpkin at all, either in taste or smell. It tasted pretty much like another other chili I've made, just less spicy. I don't know if the 1/2 Tbsp extra chili powder I put in was too overpowering, but I kinda doubt it. I also expected the pumpkin to make the chili a little thicker, but I actually found it a little more watery than my regular chili. It wasn't bad, just not what I was expecting. So all in all, this was a good recipe, but if anything, next time I'd probably just make my usual chili and add some pumpkin to that if I wanted some extra vitamins!

Pumpkin Cornbread
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or freshly cooked and processed)
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
1 Tbs molasses

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 10-inch glass pie pan or 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Sift flours, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in cornmeal.
3. In separate bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in pumpkin, brown sugar, oil and molasses.
4. Make a well in the dry mixture. Add pumpkin mixture and blend batter with a few quick strokes (just until blended- don't overmix).
5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cornbread is browned and the surface has a slightly springy feel.

My notes: Though the recipe called for half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour, I used only all-purpose. I've never used whole wheat flour in my life and couldn't justify spending $4 on a bag of flour for a recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of it. I don't know if the wheat flour is supposed to serve any purpose other than being healthier, but I didn't notice that using a full cup of all-purpose made anything go horribly wrong!

The verdict: Very good! The pumpkin taste and smell was subtle, but it was definitely there. It was a little dense, and maybe that's because of the flour, but then I don't usually think of cornbread as being completely light and airy anyway. There are a good number of ingredients, but it was easy enough to make and a nice change from your normal cornbread.

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