Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pie (with fresh pumpkin)

We spent a very pleasant Thanksgiving in north central Missouri with my brother and sister-in-law.  I volunteered to bring the pies.  Since it turned out there were only going to be four of us, I decided two pies were sufficient.  I made a pumpkin and a cranberry apple.  The recipe for the cranberry apple is in an earlier post.  Priscilla said this was the best pumpkin pie she had ever had.  I really liked it too.  I think using fresh pumpkin makes a difference in the end result.  I also like this recipe because it is not too sweet and is very mildly spiced (no cloves!). 

Choosing and preparing your pumpkin : 

Smaller is better:
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 my house we feed them to the birds).
In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F 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 it.
For silky smooth custards or soups, process the pumpkin puree in a food processor until smooth.

Make a crust for a single crust pie or purchase a refrigerated pie crust.

Pumpkin Filling:
2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin

Adapted from

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oven-Baked Chili

This is a chili made with chunks of beef rather than the traditional ground beef.  I made it primarily to use up the last of the green peppers from my CSA farm.  I'm not really a green pepper fan, but I felt compelled to use them rather than have them fade away in the frig.

2 pounds cubed stew beef
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) chopped onion
1 cup (5 ounces) diced fresh green bell pepper (I used 2 large green peppers because that's what I had and wanted to use up)
2 or more cloves garlic, peeled and minced, depends on how big the cloves are.
2 cups (15 ounces) chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (I used canned)
6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried cilantro (optional, but good)  I did use it but I don't think it made much difference
2 teaspoons chili powder (you can add more later)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, to taste
up to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste, optional; cuts the acidity of the tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper,
I used 1 dry jalapeno pepper and left it whole
1 tablespoon cornmeal
2 cans (15 ounces) dark red kidney beans, well-drained

Shake the meat in a bag with some flour which helps to brown it. In a large skillet, brown the meat in oil, in batches if necessary. Add the chopped onion and peppers, and cook until the onion and peppers are soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, hot pepper, spices, and cornmeal, stirring to combine and allowing to simmer for about 1 minute, just till everything is hot.

Spoon the chili into an ovenproof 2- to 2 1/2-quart crock or casserole dish; add sufficient water to cover the meat. I used about 1 tomato can of water (about 2 cups). Cover the dish, with a lid or foil, and bake the chili in a preheated 275°F oven for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Mine took 3 hours. Stir the chili after 1 hour. 

Half an hour before serving, stir in the beans, and cook until heated through with the lid off. Garnish the chili with fresh cilantro, finely chopped raw onions (optional) and sour cream.

I served the chili with cornbread.  It made a great meal for a chilly fall night.

Adapted from King Arthur