Wednesday, December 3, 2014

{guest post} All Things Pumpkin!

I love my sister, but I just think it's cruel for her to be sending me these tantalizing pumpkin recipes when I don't have access to canned pumpkin (and I attempted making my own pumpkin puree last year and swore off ever doing it again)! These really do look amazing and I am definitely adding it to my list of recipes to make when we move back. Who cares that we'll be moving back in the middle of the Arizona summer heat, I'm cranking up my air conditioner, putting on some Christmas music and baking up a great big pumpkin storm. Thanks, Janessa!

Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Oatmeal
*souce: Sweet Anna's

I doubled this recipe so that we had leftovers that we've been enjoying all week long. Such a yummy way to get a cold snowy day off to a good start. I tweaked a few things and changed the recipe accordingly.

6 cups water
1 cup half and half or milk
2 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker and on LOW overnight, about 8 hours. When it is done, it will still look liquidy. Give it a good stir and it will all come together. Put in individual bowls and add a little half and half (or milk) and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve immediately. Save any leftovers in the fridge or freezer... this stuff reheats beautifully!

Pumpkin Butter
*Source: Oh She Glows

I originally made this because I needed it for the Pumpkin French Toast Bake (recipe below), but I was so excited to have the pumpkin butter. It made way more than I needed for the recipe and I have a mostly full jar of it in my fridge just waiting to be spread onto a thick slice of homemade bread. I think I might get some cute little jars and give them out with a loaf of bread as neighbor gifts this year. It would also be a cute gift for teachers too. The possibilities are endless! I had no idea how much I was needing Pumpkin Butter in my life! It is super easy to make and made my house smell so good!

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3 1/2 cups or fresh
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2-1.5 teaspoons ground ginger (optional, sometimes I omit)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, covered with lid ajar (I prop it with a wooden spoon). Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer, covered with lid ajar, for 35-45 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful as the mixture bubbles and pops! Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before removing lid. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Makes enough to fill one large mason jar or about 3.5 cups.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese French Toast Bake
*Source:Minimalist Baker

Everybody in my family voted that this dish should be this year's Christmas morning breakfast. Watch out, cinnamon rolls, there's a new favorite in the house!

5 1/2 - 7 1/2 cups 1-inch bread cubes (depending on type of bread)*
7 large eggs
2 cups milk (any kind)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pumpkin BUTTER (or 1/2 cup pumpkin puree)*
8 oz block of cream cheese
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping
nuts, like pecan or walnuts (optional - BUT I SAY IT'S MANDATORY)

Cut any kind of bread into 1-inch cubes - I recommend a crusty, whole grain variety, but sandwich bread will work, too. Just use enough slice to fill a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish quite full. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and tuck in among the bread cubes. If you want less of a cream cheese flavor, you don't have to use the whole block. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin butter and pie spice until well combined. Pour over bread and push down with a spoon or your hands until it's all soaked and mostly covered. Cover with saran wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees, uncover and top with brown sugar, additional pumpkin pie spice and nuts (optional). Bake for 35-45 minutes or golden brown and no longer wet. Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered for up to a couple days.

* For the bread cubes, just use as much bread as it takes to fill the bottom of your dish generously, plus up about 1 to 1.5 inches. If you've added too much to soak up the liquid, just remove some. And if it looks too wet, add some more bread.
* I HIGHLY recommend using pumpkin butter as it has a concentrated pumpkin flavor and is much sweeter than puree. But if using puree instead of butter, it's important to compensate the flavor by adding a bit more puree, pumpkin pie spice, and a little agave nectar, brown sugar or maple syrup to the batter. Otherwise, it will lack that delicious fall, pumpkin flavor you're going for.
 * I used 2%, but use skim or low-fat for a lighter recipe. Alternatively, use non-dairy such as soy or almond.

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