Tips for Cooking with Pumpkin
One of the most exciting ways to spice up a fall meal this Crocktober is with the addition of pumpkin. From the seeds to the sweet flesh of this bright orange vegetable, there are endless ways to incorporate pumpkin into your cooking. The Crock-Pot® 6-Quart Digital Slow Cooker with iStir™ Stirring System is an excellent way to create creamy pumpkin soups, pumpkin puree and even a tasty pumpkin oatmeal. And if you're not a fan of all things pumpkin flavor, you can even put this festive squash to use by turning the hard outer skin into a serving dish!
Cleaning the Pumpkin
As a kid, the gooey mess of carving pumpkins was the best part. Now when you're using it for cooking, digging your hands into the stringy orange inside isn't quite as exciting. While there is no way to avoid the mess factor, scraping out the slimy inside can become much easier with the use of a butter curler. It's very effective for getting all of the pulp out. When cleaning out your pumpkin, be sure to save all of the seeds for later roasting.
Peeling the Pumpkin
When considering the skin of the pumpkin, a trick for easy removal is heating. Once your pumpkin has been completely gutted and rinsed clean, place one half at a time, skin side up, in your microwave. Timing depends on the size of your pumpkin - large ones can take up to 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is warm enough, the skin will be able to be sliced away easily. You are then left with the flesh for easy chopping or pureeing.
Cooking the Pumpkin
Most would agree that the best part of a pumpkin is its seeds. Once they have been cleaned, boil them for 10 minutes until they become soft. After drying them on a paper towel, toss them with olive oil and salt and place on a baking tray in the oven. Cook for about 45 minutes at 250 degrees. You can also use your slow cooker for roasting pumpkin seeds - toss with olive oil and salt and cook on high for 6 hours.
Adding pumpkin flavor to any baked good is a sure way to kick things up a notch. When grated and squeezed, pumpkin flesh is perfect for blending into cupcakes, breads and cookies. Mixing it with honey or cinnamon gives your baking a slightly sweet spice. If the grated pumpkin is still damp when prepared, note that cook time might take a little longer. The soft flesh of a pumpkin is the ultimate vegetable for blending into creamy soups. Roasting the pumpkin prior to blending enhances its rich flavor. Mix with creams, stocks, spices and other vegetables to create a uniquely flavored fall soup. And for the ultimate breakfast, combine pumpkin puree, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in your slow cooker, cooking on low for 6 hours.