Tag Archives: pumpkin

More Pumpkin in Review: The Pies Have It!

Gentle Readers, it is with great relief that I’m winding up this personal pumpkin challenge. To be frank, I almost wept openly in Trader Joe’s when I saw the number of pumpkin items yet untried, mainly in the frozen dessert aisle.

The cutest pumpkins ever. Clementines with an apple stem. One more pumpkin and I'll scream like those bananas though.

The cutest pumpkins ever. Clementines with an apple stem. One more pumpkin and I’ll scream like those bananas though.

But enough is enough–why do I need to buy pumpkin bread pudding when I’m more than capable of making my own? In spite of the toll my real life schedule takes on my cooking time (and my blogging time for that matter), every day that I cook something from scratch, or simply feed myself and TPCs Jr, feels like a victory.

Almost from scratch pumpkin pie. Hold the Cool Whip please.

Almost from scratch pumpkin pie. Hold the Cool Whip please.

So making a pumpkin pie from “scratch” (air quotes to honor the Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust deployed into this fight) seems worthy of a ticker tape celebration. I even served it with Pumpkin Ravioli. Thus the pumpkin tales end where they began.

Three More Favorite Pumpkin Things:

1. Pumpkin Ravioli. These are actually good, though the batch we had was less than smooth in the filling of a few of them. Serve with a simple brown butter and sage sauce–melt butter, fry sage, toss with cooked pasta, call it gourmet. This is a family favorite, worthy of serving special guests.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage--Nom!

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage–Nom!

2. Pumpkin Pancakes. Still the house favorite, using the Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle mix as a starter, we often add ground flaxseed, applesauce, almond meal, and/or chopped walnuts. It’s very flexible, have at it. On rare occasions, we add chocolate chips. I still don’t like them in my pancakes, judge me if you will.

World's Largest Pumpkin Pancake. I totally flipped it midair, no spatula. #win

World’s Largest Pumpkin Pancake. I totally flipped it midair, no spatula. #win

3. Pumpkin Pie. I made the recipe from the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can, a time-honored approach. I swapped in the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice, which I adore, and used the aforementioned frozen crust, also from TJ’s. I know it’s got no trans fats in it, but I found it a bit doughy and brittle, and that’s not just operator error. It’s crust in the end, so it’s still good, but apparently I like a little more trans fat in my pie crusts.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice: With Cardamom and Lemon Peel, I Love This Stuff

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice: With Cardamom and Lemon Peel, I Love This Stuff

Honorable Mentions:

  • Pumpkin Toaster Pastries. Not my favorite, but TPCs Jr gave these a thumbs up as a seasonal travel food.
  • Pumpkin Bars. Not a bad entry, bordering on the dessert category.
  • Pumpkin Biscotti. These were also not bad, but having made my own, I’m now permanently spoiled.
  • Pumpkin Blondies. Okay, but I didn’t really see the point here.
  • Pumpkin Loaf Bread Mix. Again, a pretty strong contender, but quick breads aren’t hard to make from scratch, and you have more control over the flavor profile. Secretly, I still greatly prefer Starbucks Pumpkin Bread. It’s the seeds I tell you!
  • Pumpkin Butter. A nice side with apples or the Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps.
So much pumpkin at Trader Joe's: butter and mix and decorative gourds oh my!

So much pumpkin at Trader Joe’s: butter and mix and decorative gourds oh my!

And thus ends my pumpkin journey. I’m now heading into Thanksgiving season with a healthy portion of condensed soups and fried onions from my favorite alternative grocery store. It’s casserole and stuffing season, and I’ll pay allegiance to other winter squashes henceforth. Acorn and Delicata, I’ve missed you.

What’s your favorite of the pumpkin products? Send a Tweet or comment below! The pumpkin polls are open!

Until next year, leaving the largess of pumpkin behind. TPCs Jr celebrate the overlarge veggies at N.C. State Fair!

Until next year, leaving the largess of pumpkin behind. TPCs Jr celebrate the overlarge veggies at N.C. State Fair!

Send your Cool Whip, maple syrup, and spooky thoughts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Next up on Sunday, Weekly Menus: Casserole Edition!

Leave a comment

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

Weekly Menus: Week of 10/27/2013, N.C. State Fair Edition

Gentle Readers, so much for good intentions! Apologies for the delayed posting, but this weekend has been slam-packed with fall festivities. Let’s run down the list, shall we: pumpkin selecting, pumpkin carving, costume provisioning, bowling with friends (do not take on POTUS2040), Neko Case, soccer, and the N.C. State Fair!

Fear the pumpkin uprising!

Fear the pumpkin uprising!

We are full up to our eyeballs with pumpkin and deep-fried, shaken and not stirred. Thank goodness it’s a school holiday so I can recover. As a result of all of this, you’ll find a grocery list that’s light on pumpkin but otherwise very heavy on vegetables and ease of use.

Dinner Grits, an idea whose time has come.

Dinner Grits, an idea whose time has come.

I found that we were less crazed about the deep-fried aspects of the fair this year. Perhaps because we haven’t held back the previous years, the novelty has worn off in favor of rides and games. However, I continue to display hound-dog like accuracy in discerning one fried food from another, and could detect the difference in funnel cake vs Krispy Kremes at several hundred feet and in an competitive smell environment. It’s a gift and a curse.

We tried the new deep-fried red velvet Oreos with cream cheese drizzle. Good, but not my favorite fried.

We tried the new deep-fried red velvet Oreos with cream cheese drizzle. Good, but not my favorite fried.

None of us were interested in the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe, the new offering at the fair this year. They need to work on the KK McGriddle–think doughnuts and pig people, not cow! We also bid farewell to The Pork Chop Shop.

Farewell Pork Chop Shop. #blessyourheart

Farewell Pork Chop Shop. #blessyourheart

In a testimony to my kids’ amazing manners, we were offered free sheets of ride tickets not once, but twice, from folks who had to leave before using their allotment up. Thank you to both donors–you are reinforcing the use of “please and thank you” with several underlines and an exclamation mark or two.

Free ride tickets paved the road here: the swings.

Free ride tickets paved the road here: the swings.

But I digress. On to this week’s recovery Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 10/27/2013

Weekly Menus: 10/27/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/27/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/27/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Spinach Quesadillas
My pantry staple, and a good quick end to a long day at the fair. We paired them with homemade refried black beans (which really just means rinsing a can of black beans and heating with some salsa of your choosing, mashing a few of the beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the texture, and then thinning and simmering with a bit of water).

Monday: Salmon and Couscous
Did I mention I had to get my cholesterol checked soon? Every year right after the fair. Sigh.

Tuesday: Nachos
A great way to use up a little of this and that. We have another pack of veggie chili to go. When you add mushrooms and avocado, you can make something pretty interesting.

Veggie Nachos Perfected! With pickled jalepeno on top, for good measure.

Veggie Nachos Perfected! With pickled jalepeno on top, for good measure.

Wednesday: Thai Tofu
I have a jarred sauce I need to try. I’m going for broke and pairing with the much maligned tofu.

Thursday: Tuna Melts!
High protein and interesting courtesy of being open faced and sprinkled with cheese, we go for a bit of hot sauce kick and a lot of pickle relish.

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad Being Invented

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad Being Invented

Friday: Pasta Primavera or Omelets
Read: I need to use up little bits of vegetables accumulated during the week.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Adventure dining awaits, I look forward to see what it will be!

Raising Rock Stars: Before the Neko Case Concert at DPAC

Raising Rock Stars: Before the Neko Case Concert at DPAC

What’s your fall quick meal these days? Don’t say pumpkin or I’ll scream. We always strive for something simple and attractive pre-Halloween candy march. Post a comment below, let me know you’re out there!

Send your deep-fried, exercise tips, and non-gummi Halloween candy to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday (or thereabouts), Pumpkin Madness Take 2! Oh there’s more.

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes, Weekly Menus

Pumpkin Pumpkin Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink: Round 1

Gentle Readers, it seemed like such a simple mission at the start, trying all of the pumpkin things at Trader Joe’s. I gleefully tossed them in my cart with the joy of a completist blog in my future. It looked like this:

Back when I thought it was all about the Pumpkin Pancakes and a fun challenge. Trader Joe's Round 1.

Back when I thought it was all about the Pumpkin Pancakes and a fun challenge. Trader Joe’s Round 1.

Then I went back to the store the next week. And the pumpkin offerings expanded. Now my cart looked like this:

Pumpkin soup, oatmeal, ravioli--wait, how did the Joe Joe's get in there.

Pumpkin soup, oatmeal, ravioli–wait, how did the Joe Joe’s get in there.

Is it possible to suffer from Vitamin A poisoning? Or is this a Michael Pollan level conspiracy, as wonderfully outlined in The Pumpkin Industrial Complex? I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

So rather than everything, I’m going to start by reviewing a few of my favorite things.

3 Practical Pumpkin Things

1. Pumpkin Granola. I love this cereal. I would eat it regardless of season or the PIC (Pumpkin Industrial Complex). Crunchy, spicy, with a little bit of raisin sass, this is two spoons up.

Pumpkin granola cereal from Trader Joe's, in aggregate.

Pumpkin granola cereal from Trader Joe’s, in aggregate.

2. Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones. Of the mixes I’ve tried, this is one of my favorites. They are simple to make, with a pretty good texture, and a nice pumpkin-ness to them. The cranberries make a lovely addition as well.

Nice texture and warmth, this scone mix is pretty easy to work with.

Nice texture and warmth, this pumpkin scone mix is pretty easy to work with.

3. Pumpkin Crisps. If you’re a fan of the rosemary crisps, this is a run don’t walk situation. Fabulous with a touch of goat cheese or a schmear of pumpkin butter, these I would eat until I foundered. Not your mama’s cracker.

Pumpkin crisps atop, wait for it, pumpkin soup from Trader Joe's. TPC's Jr are pretty much over it.

Pumpkin crisps atop, wait for it, pumpkin soup from Trader Joe’s. TPC’s Jr are pretty much over it.

That’s it for round 1. I’ve got lots more to review, and will even reveal some of my less favorite options. But I will need help from you loyal readers. If you’d like to guest blog, email me. If you’d like to just drop a quick one-line review in the comments, go for it. If you want to get into a pumpkin pie eating contest, I’ll take you on there as well.

Adapatable Pumpkin Pancakes Stack, Birthday Style.

Adapatable Pumpkin Pancakes Stack, Birthday Style.

Send your non-pumpkin items, good ideas, and mind-blowing suggestions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Next up on Sunday, Weekly Menus: State Fair Edition

5 Comments

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Snacks

Weekly Menus: Week of 10/21/2012

Gentle Readers, fall has arrived. It’s a little bit cool, and everything has turned to pumpkin, including beer, which makes me shudder in horror, but I digress. However, it’s also time for persimmon pudding, which I must encourage you to try if you haven’t. The taste is something like a spunky pumpkin bread pudding, and it is the childhood smell of autumn for me.

Persimmon Pudding from Crook's Corner. Almost as good as TPC's Mom makes.

Persimmon Pudding from Crook’s Corner. Almost as good as TPC’s Mom makes.

Let all of this add up to say, I’ve been in the kitchen, and feel inspired for having done so. So inspired that I challenged a professional cook to a sausage gravy battle. That might have been unwise, particularly because he makes biscuits at scale, but go big or go home I say. I’ve got a cast iron skillet and I’m not afraid to use it.

Which means the menus for the week are as follows:

Weekly Menus: 10/21/2012

Weekly Menus: 10/21/2012

The four-square grocery shopping list:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/21/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/21/2012

Which all adds up to:

Sunday: Beans and Rice with Avocado
We tend to like a simple Sunday meal. Though we may top it off with dessert and Wii at our favorite gastropub. The Juniors are popular, and their social schedule often requires creative booking.

Monday: Omelet Bar
Spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and good cheese. Some bread from Le Farm, some preserves purchased at the state fair, call it a win.

Tuesday: Pork chops with spatzle
It’s fall, and time to cook some apples and sear some pork chops, that’s what I say.

Wednesday: Polenta, pasta, or dine out?
We’re hosting a very special guest from the West Coast this evening, so we’ll have to do additional recon and agree on this meal. Something simple to accommodate the demands for attention that are surely going to ensue.

Thursday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
I’ve got a business obligation, so it’s time to break out the Punt! dinner.

Friday: Biryani
I’m going to try this for it’s ability to be vegetarian and meat-filled without much hassle. We shall see.

Saturday: Dine out!
Time for some field research. Details pending!

Where do you stand in the Great Pumpkin debate? Do you like it in your coffee? Your beer? Make your voice hear today. The comments section is open for business. Your vote counts. 😉

Send your pre-carved pumpkins, persimmons, and excess Halloween candy to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Monday: Polenta with Egg, Mushrooms, and Spinach

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus