The smaller pumpkins are actually better to cook with. When they get big they get grainy and not as tasty. The pumpkins we used were specifically called "pie pumpkins"
Before you do anything, you need to get into the pumpkins:
* Take a sharp knife, cut off the top
* Cut the pumpkin in half
* Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts and throw those in a bowl to be sorted later. An ice cream scoop seemed to do the best job.
Here's my sister, Tara, and her daughter, Shelby, helping with the pumpkins. This was just before they were allured away by the enticement of painting pumpkins and abandoned me to do the cooking by myself.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
(Yes, this is a very small little dish of pumpkin seeds. It was all that was left by the time I got a chance to take a picture. Those ravenous little beasts (aka "children" on some days) consumed several pounds of pepitas before I could even take a lens cap off)
* Remove the pumpkin pulp from the seeds
* Rinse the seeds
* Preheat oven to 250
* Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray
* Spread out the seeds in a single layer
* Coat the seeds with seasonings of your choice
* Let bake in the oven about 20-30 minutes- until they start to turn light golden brown
* Remove from cooking sheet, taste, and toss with any additional seasonings
You can keep it really simple and just add salt (lots of salt!). I used a popcorn seasoning mix of white cheddar, garlic, and sea salt from Williams Sonoma. It's a bit pricey for the can, but yummy and convenient. You can also check the popcorn aisle for other popcorn seasoning blends. Or, spice it up and use cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, or jalapeno seasoning. Use your imagination.
These were a HUGE hit with the kids! They loved them!
Er, one just more thing...
Without ruining the moment of the yumminess that is pumpkin seeds, let me just give a word of advice. If you have a kid in diapers that attends daycare, give the child the pumpkin seeds on a day when the daycare will get to deal with the diaper the following day and not you. That's all I'm going to say about that.
* Preheat oven to 350
* Cut the cleaned pumpkin halves into thirds or fourths, lay them on a baking sheet.
* Cook for about 45 minutes (until nice and tender)
* Remove the pumpkin from the skin (this is really easy to do- it just falls right off after cooking)
* Throw the roasted pumpkin in the food processor (you'll have to do this in batches) and pulse until pureed.
* It will last in the fridge for several days or you can freeze it for later. I would recommend that you freeze it in ziploc bags in 2 cup quantities since that is about the equivalent of one can of pumpkin puree that many recipes are based off of.
That's all there is too it. I don't recommend seasoning or oiling it because you want this in its pure form to be used in recipes later.
I let it sit in a bowl and use a paper towel to soak up any water that comes to the surface so that it is a bit of a thicker texture. If you want thinner, you can add a little water to the food processor when pureeing.
I attempted to buy a few more pumpkins labeled "pie pumpkins" from Walmart in addition to the ones we bought from the pumpkin patch. The Walmart ones were so tough, there wasn't a single knife in my collection of Henkles up to the task. I'm not even sure a hack saw would do it. Instead, some simply got painted for Halloween fun and a few got tossed into the back yard to see if we might see some pumpkin vines grow along the fence one day. But I think those suckers are petrified so they'll probably still be whole 20 years from now. They will be used in a game of lawn bowling when our kids have kids.
What can't you use pumpkin puree for? There is (in a Bubba Gump voice): pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin dip. Recipes for pumpkin bread and pumpkin dip to follow soon.
For Bailey, I took the pure pumpkin puree, added a little pumpkin pie spice, and she loved it. She had it several times over the week. It's such a healthy and straight from the garden option. I even noshed on several pieces of roasted pumpkin myself. It was kind of a "one for me, one for the food processor" thing as I ate myself silly of just plain old pumpkin. Who knew it could be so tasty?