In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.
Our new farmer friends, and Honorary MXG Commanders, Dave and Stephanie Bergh (Bergh Farm, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bergh-Farms-LLC/136018639749651) planted an experimental garden this year… not experiment like weird hybrid vegetables or voodoo fertilizer ~ they just wanted to try their hand at gardening. (you should see their sugar beet and alfalfa-hay farm ~ a success!) Can you say MONSTER PUMPKINS?!? I was so amazed at the size of these things, I forgot all about the camera in my hand! If you are at the market on Saturdays, you can find Steph and her daughters-in-law, selling these beauties; tell her Val sent you! (http://idahopreferred.com/member-database/mountain-home-farmers-market)
In their honor, I have created a streusel-topped, pumpkin with a spiced cream cheese filling ~ enjoy! v
Streusel Topped Pumpkin Muffins
- 1/3 c flour
- 1/3 c brown sugar
- 3 T butter, softened
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg, fresh if possible
- 3 T hazelnuts, chopped (pecans or walnuts would be great, too)
- 1 8 oz package fat-free or 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground if possible
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 2/3 c flour (I used fresh ground hazelnut, oat & almond flour combo with my bread flour)
- 1 c brown sugar
- 3/4 c granulated raw sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c vegetable oil (I used applesauce + 2 T oil)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (sour cream or mayo would work, too)
- 1-16 oz can of pumpkin puree (of if you buy a pumpkin from Steph, 1 1/2 c of the real stuff; see directions below)
Preheat oven to 375; fill 24 muffin tins with paper liners, spray lightly with non-stick spray. You will need 3 bowls; 1 large, 1 medium and 1 small.
In the small bowl, combine the topping ingredients; mix with a fork, set aside.
In the medium bowl, combine cream cheese and remaining ingredients; mix with wooden spoon or hand mixer until well mixed; set aside.
In the large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, spices and sugars; add in pumpkin, eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla; stir just until smooth.
Fill muffin cups about 1/3 full with pumpkin batter; place about a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on top then fill with about 1 T of batter on top of cream cheese; sprinkle streusel topping over top; repeat with remaining batter. Bake for about 25 minutes, let cool slightly, then remove muffins from tin, placing them on a cooling rack. Enjoy ~ v
Choose sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties. Small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, they’re perfect for pies, soups, muffins and breads.
A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.
Field pumpkins, which are bred for perfect jack-o’-lanterns, tend to be too large and stringy for baking.
- Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast
- In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil
- Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender
- Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it
- For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
1. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings.
2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Sprinkle with salt and your favorite seasonings ~ we like old bay seasoning on ours. Bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
4. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.