All Things Pumpkin

IMG_2217In the month of October there seems to be a lot of pumpkin about. From Thanksgiving feasts that include delicious pies and cheesecakes to Fall festivals and trips to the pumpkin patch, even right up until Halloween when we are carving pumpkins for the kids and all our trick or treaters.

I love pumpkins. I not only love the taste, but I love the bright orange color they are, the unique shapes and sizes and all the different things that you can do with pumpkin, from eating and recipes to decorating and crafts.

I do have to say that I tend to lean towards the pumpkin food items the most, as I really do enjoy those. And lately I have been finding all kinds of pumpkin delights that I have tried or am about to try such as pumpkin pancakes, muffins, latte, fudge, cheesecake, ice cream and of course pie. I even discovered a recipe for a Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, which though I have to make a few dietary adjustments I can’t wait to get it into my oven and more importantly in my tummy!IMG_2173

The pumpkin pancakes I discovered a few years ago when I bought Halloween pancake molds that came with the recipe (those are so fun!). The pumpkin spice latte is a slow cooker recipe I discovered last year and made for the first time last week for my open house. The fudge I have yet to try but believe me I am all over this and it won’t be long! And I have always loved pumpkin muffins, though I have been dappling in some new recipes. I always enjoy variation and who knows you might be missing out on something even better if you don’t at least try it!

I am not sure what it is I love about pumpkin dishes so much, but I am sure that it also has to do with the allure and smell of all those delicious spices that go in it; like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mmmm… just the thought of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

pumpkin-spice-latte-white-chocolateMy greatest (and most fun) pumpkin discovery this Fall was actually not a food item. Which is ok, I was just super surprised at whoever came up with this as it is so simple, yet so ingenious. It is Pumpkin Play Doh! I thought this was fabulous! My kids loves playdoh and what a fun way to tie in a theme, those spices we love and play and create at the same time.

I found the recipe on another blog While He Was Napping. She makes her playdoh on the stove top which I am sure works well, but I have my own playdoh recipe I decided to use and adjust instead (as it is just a mix everything together, I like to avoid extra pots and pans). All I needed to do was add my pumpkin pie spice and color it orange. Presto! Pumpkin Playdoh.

IMG_2305The twins loved it! Thought it was the most fabulous thing ever, yeah it was playdoh but it was new and it was pumpkin! Even Matthew and his friend smelled it and said it smelled really good. Plus I played it up a little, got out the Halloween cookie cutters for them to use and sat down and played with them for a while. Chloe loved making pumpkin hair for the Fuzzy Cuts Barber Shop we have. Luke just rolled it and created as he usually does. Fun was had by all.

I’m wondering now what other ‘flavours’ of playdoh I can make, perhaps mint or chocolate. It could be done, I’ll have to experiment… In the meantime enjoy the pumpkin…

Pumpkin Playdoh

Mix together in a medium bowl:

2 c. flour

4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. salt

2-3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (amount depends on how strong you would like the scent) or 2-3 drops On Guard essential oil

Add in:

1 1/2 c. boiling water

2 tbsp. oil

Mix together. Knead well. Add in orange food coloring. Knead again until well mixed. Store in ziploc bags.

*For ordinary playdoh simply omit the pumpkin pie spice and add whatever color of food coloring you want. Batch is fairly large – so can easily be divided to make a few different colors or scents.

 

A Halloween Breakfast -Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkin pancakes

Last year I made Pumpkin pancakes Halloween morning for the kids.  I found these mini Halloween pancake molds at Williams Sonoma -in the shape of a cat, pumpkin, bat and ghost. It came with the pancake recipe so I thought I would try it out. It was so fun! It was a great way to start the day and to make it fun especially when meeting our no sugar requirement.

I am planning to make them again this year, except I will make them the night before and reheat them in the morning. Because Halloween falls on a school day, I would have to get up quite early to make them fresh and I am having a hard enough time getting up on school days as it is 🙂 It’s way too early for me.

Tips for Using Molds for Pumpkin Pancakes

When using the molds there are a few tips and tricks that I would recommend in order to make your pancake making experience successful.

First, is to buy a pancake pen. They are also available at Williams Sonoma and it is well worth the money spent. You fill the pen with batter on one end and then you squeeze it out of the tip on the other when you are ready. It has a cover on the “pen” end so you can stand it up with the batter at the end and ready to go. This is way easier and faster than spooning it into the molds.

Second, make sure that your griddle or pan is hot before you start and that you grease the pancake molds with a little bit of oil. They are non stick molds but you still need that extra grease to keep the batter from sticking, especially in the corners. And even with that I found that I had to gently push around the edges with a butter knife to get them to come out. And grease them EVERY time you put in a new batch of batter.

Third, don’t overfill the molds. If you use the recipe below they will puff up so only fill them about halfway. If you overfill them they will be hard to get out regardless if you grease them.

pumpkin pancakes

Fourthly, they do have little handles on them to help you take them out, but they become hot as they are metal like the rest of the mold – make sure you use a pot holder or oven mitt to handle them.

Interestingly last year I discovered I had no pot holders as I never found them to be useful and were just taking up space, so I gave them all away. Now I have found a reason to have at least one around, as using an oven mitt is too bulky and awkward to handle the molds. Fortunately I found a Halloween pumpkin pot holder on sale after Halloween last year, so I’ll put it to perfect use.

My last tip is be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to make them; hence doing them the night before. I have to admit they are a bit finicky to make but once you get the first few under your belt you get the hang of it and it becomes easier. By the time I was done my batch I could get the pumpkin and the ghost shapes out without having to use my butterknife around the edges.

And oh they are delicious! The kids loved them. They found the shapes super fun and now ask for them each year.

So try something unique this Halloween for breakfast; even if you don’t have the molds the kids will still gobble them up. You could Hallloween -ish by simply make faces on them using pieces of fruit like sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, apples, etc.

I adjusted the original recipe to sugar and dairy free to meet our needs and is the recipe posted here.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1/4 c. date sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

4 eggs, separated

3/4 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

1 1/2 c. rice milk (we use Ryza as it has no added sugars) or almond milk

4 tbsp. melted Earth Balance

1 tsp. vanilla extract

100% pure maple syrup (for serving)

In a large bowl whisk together flour, date sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, rice milk, Earth Balance and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth and no lumps of flour remain. Fold in egg whites in 2 additions.

Heat griddle over medium heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Lightly grease the griddle and the inside surface of the mini pancake molds. Set the molds with handles up on the griddle and heat until hot.

Pour 1/4 c. pancake batter into each mold. If necessary use a butter knife of small spatula to spread the batter into the corners of the molds. Cook until bubbles form on top and the batter is set, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove molds, and flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Keep warm until all pancakes are cooked. Makes between 24-32 pancakes.

Enjoy! And Happy Halloweening!