Pumpkin Pie

Many of us will be making pumpkin pie during this Fall season. And many of us have favorite pumpkin pie recipes that have been in our families cookbook for many generations. Whether your recipe uses evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, a milk alternative,  is a “lighter” version or gluten free there are some tips for helping make a pie with better results and keeping the pie safe.

Pumpkin pie is considered a custard-based pie so it must be refrigerated to keep it safe to eat. Do not leave the pumpkin pie at room temperature for more than two hours. Custard-based pies do not freeze very successfully. If you want to make the pie ahead of time you  might want to consider freezing the crust and filling separately then after thawing in the refrigerator putting the pie together and baking it. When you are baking the pie be careful not to overbake it as that will cause the pie to crack. Remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. The internal temperature of the pie will help it finish baking.

You may want to mix your filling ingredients together the day before you are planning to make the pie to give the spices a chance to blend. For a twist on the crust, one site I looked at suggested replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with 1/4 cup cornmeal to add an interesting texture to the crust since the filling is so smooth. To make your own pumpkin pie spice at home combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. This will substitute for 1 teaspoon of commercial pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin pie is a delicious dessert addition to a special Fall meal. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin Season is upon us! Pumpkins are a Fall favorite for our family. They have both culinary and ornamental uses for us. They are delicious in pies and other desserts, fun to paint and display indoors or out, fun to carve into jack-o’-lanterns as a family activity and of course used in Fall decorations.

Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with squash, cantaloupe, cucumber, watermelon and gourds. Pumpkins are considered a type of squash. They are typically round with slightly ribbed deep yellow to orange skin.

If you want to store your pumpkins for use at Thanksgiving or later, place them in a single layer where they don’t touch each other in a cool, dry place (ideally 50-55 degrees F). The room should have good circulation to prevent moisture from forming on the surface of the pumpkins which causes decay. Do not store the pumpkins near apples, pears or other ripening fruit as the ripening fruit releases ethylene gas which shortens the storage life of pumpkins. If you store pumpkins correctly you can expect them to last 2-3 months.

Spend Smart Eat Smart has a great recipe for pumpkin pudding that is low calorie and can be used as a snack or dessert. If you prefer to use fresh pumpkin you can substitute 1 and 3/4 cups mashed fresh pumpkin for the 15 ounce can called for in the recipe.

The USDA SNAP-Ed Connection has more recipes, information about pumpkin nutrition, and how to preserve pumpkin.

If you want to preserve your uncarved pumpkins, start with soaking the pumpkins in a solution of 1 gallon water, 2 T. bleach, and a squirt of dish soap for 15-30 minutes. Rinse and dry well. You can then coat the pumpkins with a spray matte sealer.

Enjoy the abundance of pumpkins this Fall!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Pumpkin Puree Leftovers

I was recently doing some baking with pumpkin. My recipe called for only 1 cup of pumpkin rather than the whole can which left me with about half a can of pumpkin puree leftover. Some of you may have experienced the same thing. If you have, there are some options for you to consider. First of all you might want to double the recipe you are making and share the additional baked product with a friend:) One 15 ounce can of pumpkin is just shy of 2 cups. If you definitely want the full cup for the second batch you are making just add 1 tablespoon of applesauce to the leftover pumpkin puree. I think you will also find being a tablespoon shy of a full cup of pumpkin will not affect the outcome of your recipe.

If you are using commercially canned pumpkin puree you can refrigerate and use any leftovers within 5-7 days. If you have made your own pumpkin puree you will want to refrigerate and use it within 3-5 days. The leftover pumpkin is wonderful stirred into oatmeal or yogurt or added to a smoothie. Libby’s has posted on their site recommendations for substituting pumpkin puree for eggs, oil or butter in your baking.

 

You may also freeze any leftover pumpkin puree. An easy way to do that is to lightly spray a muffin cup and spoon 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup measurements of pumpkin into each cup. Freeze in the muffin pan until solid then remove the pumpkin mounds/scoops from the pan and transfer to freezer bags. Make sure to label your bags with what it is, the amount in each mound and the date. It is easy to remove the amount you need for a recipe later on. If you thaw the pumpkin puree in the refrigerator, which is the recommended way, you have an additional 3-4 days to store it in the refrigerator and use it. If you thaw the pumpkin in the microwave or with the cold water method you need to use it immediately. Once the pumpkin has thawed if there is any liquid pooling just drain it off before using. For best quality, use frozen pumpkin puree within 3 months. It will be safe indefinitely however if continuously frozen but will lose some quality over time.

There are so many delicious pumpkin recipes out there. I hope you will enjoy baking with pumpkin puree this season!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Induction Burners

My son recently purchased a portable induction burner. I have friends who have them and love them but I do not have one so decided to do a little more research on them. Maybe I need one!

The units plug into a standard outlet so it is easy to use on your countertop or even outdoors if you have a deck or gazebo with outlets or an outdoor kitchen. An electromagnetic field below the glass surface provides heat that heats up the pan you are using. The cookware is considered the transformer so the surface of the burner cools down immediately after a pot is removed.

Because the cookware is the transformer not all cookware can be used on the induction cooktop. Aluminum, glass and ceramic will not work. You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy new cookware though. To test yours, see if a magnet will stick to it. If it does, it will work on your induction cooktop.

Using magnetic induction heats pans up more quickly than either gas or electric. This saves energy and time. Induction burners also respond immediately to temperature adjustments. If you raise or lower the heat you will see results right away.

As I mentioned before, the induction burner will not work if the transformer (the pot/pan) is not on top of it. That is especially advantageous if you have small children present. It is also a plus if you happen to spill something on the burner. Since the burner does not get hot the splatters do not burn. Many induction burners can also sense if there is nothing in the pot and they will turn off after 60 seconds.

Before I go out and purchase one there are several things I need to consider:

1 – how much do I intend to use it?

2 – how much counter space/storage space will it require: will I leave it out or tuck it away when I am not using it

3 – how much power do I need: some burners have more power levels built in and can reach higher temperatures

4 – what size: how many people do I regularly cook for? will I need double burners or will a single burner suffice

5 – budget: the sticker shock I initially experienced may reduce depending on how I answered the other questions about an induction cooktop

I was looking at portable induction burners but you can also purchase them as a built-in cooktop. I definitely think they are energy efficient and I like the fact they heat up quickly yet the burner itself does not get hot. I will wait and see how well  my son likes his and maybe even try his myself then decide if I think it is a worthwhile purchase for me.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Apple Desserts

Fall is right around the corner and for many of us that comes with visits to local apple orchards. Of course the apples are delicious to eat on their own but there also many different types of apple dessert recipes to tempt us. Here are some differences among some of the various apple desserts:

Apple Brown Betty: baked apples with spiced bread crumbs layered between the fruit

Apple Buckle: moist cake topped with apples and a streusel topping

Apple Cobbler: less fussy than pie;  pie dough, biscuit dough, or cookie dough is spooned/dolloped on the top rather than being chilled and rolled out

Apple Crumble: baked chopped apples with a crisp streusel topping that does not contain oats

Apple Crisp: apple mixture with a topping that includes oats and brown sugar

Apple Pandowdy: this apple dessert is “dowdied” up when dough is cut or broken into pieces and pressed into the bubbling juices

I love Summer but am looking forward to Fall and visiting some local apple orchards. Whether I eat the apples as a snack or incorporate them into a dessert I know they will be delicious.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Scrambled Eggs in the Oven

We had weekend guests recently and I was looking for some easy, time-saving recipes for brunch that would allow me to enjoy my company rather than standing in the kitchen cooking. When I was sharing what I did with my co-workers one of them suggested this would also be a great dish to prepare while children are getting ready for school in the morning to give them something substantial for their tummies.

I wanted to serve scrambled eggs and decided to try making them in the oven. I was very impressed with the outcome! The process was very simple and very similar to making scrambled eggs on the stovetop. For mine I melted butter in my baking dish before adding the egg/milk mixture I had whisked together. I started with one dozen eggs in a square baking dish but you could easily do two dozen eggs in a 9×13 pan. The American Egg Board has a good recipe on their website. After the initial 10  minutes in the oven I was skeptical as the mixture was still very runny but they set up nicely after an additional 10 minutes. They were not quite done at that point so I put them back for 5 more minutes and they were perfect.

Scrambled eggs for a group in 25 minutes!

I started with a dozen eggs.
Whisking eggs and milk together
After 10 minutes in the oven
Finished product!
Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Preserving food with children

Do you have children in your life you would like to share your love of food preservation with? My sister and I host a “Camp Iowa” for our granddaughters, who live in Chicago, every Summer. We are always looking for unique and fun hands-on projects to do with them. We enjoy preserving food together every Summer and are looking forward to when they can help us. We have been looking for research-based, tested recipes to use with them and came across a wonderful publication put out by the University of Georgia. The University of Georgia is where the National Center for Home Food Preservation is located. It  is also where testing is done on recipes for home preservation that you can find in “So Easy To Preserve” which this office recommends on a regular basis. I cannot stress enough the importance of using a research-based, tested recipe. If you are unsure about your recipe being a safe tested recipe please call us at AnswerLine and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

The publication we found is titled “Preserve It & Serve It“. It is a children’s guide to canning, freezing, drying, pickling and preparing snacks with preserved foods. It gives directions for preserving foods as well as recipes to use the preserved foods in. For example, you can make and preserve your own applesauce and then use it in Applesauce Cinnamuffins.

The picture I have included is of freezer peach jam. Freezer jams are a good starting point with children. They are pretty simple, there are recipes with and without pectin, and they look beautiful when finished. The jam can be used on toast, sandwiches, or ice cream, and used in a thumbprint cookie.

If you love home food preservation I hope you will share that enthusiasm with a child in your life. It is a lifelong skill and a great bonding experience!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Sweet Corn

Sweet corn was a little bit late in my area this year but it has been here for a few weeks now and it seems the local stands sell out daily. We receive calls every year at AnswerLine concerning how long to cook sweet corn for “best” flavor. There is discussion every year among we coworkers as we all tend to do what we remember from growing up. Since there are no safety risks involved it is okay to cook the corn as we remember. However, much research has been done on the optimal way to cook sweet corn. Regardless of which way you decide to cook your sweet corn you will want to always start with the freshest corn possible and cook it as quickly after getting it as you can. Very soon after picking corn starts to convert the sugar in its kernels to starch. It also starts to lose some of its aroma and nutrients.

It is important to not overcook corn. The ears should be cooked only until the milk in the kernel is set. A very common way to cook sweet corn is to drop it into enough boiling water to cover and boil covered for @5 minutes. Penn State posted an article a while back that was interesting to me. One of their vegetable experts recommended after bringing fresh water to a boil to add 3 tablespoons sugar and a teaspoon of skim milk to the water. The reasoning was that the sugar helped the corn retain its own sugars rather than letting them be leached into the water and the skim milk enhanced the color of the corn. They recommended 7 minutes of boiling and also recommended never adding salt to the cooking water as that would toughen the kernels.

Many people like the convenience of microwaving sweet corn. One way to do that is to remove the outer husk, wash a single ear in cold water and wrap it in a paper towel dipped in cold water. Microwave each ear for 2-3 minutes on High. Another way is to remove the husks and silks, brush the ear with butter, seal in waxed paper and place in the microwave allowing at least 1 inch between ears. Microwave on High approximately 2 minutes per ear. Don’t do more than 4 ears at a time.

We have already enjoyed sweet corn at our house this season although I have not tried adding the extra sugar and little bit of skim milk to the cooking water. I’m planning to try that the next time!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Freezing Peaches

Peaches are in season! If you like peaches you probably have a favorite source – Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, etc. Missouri peaches are my favorite and they are plentiful right now. I enjoy freezing peaches to be able to use them in the middle of Winter. Somehow having those peaches on my cereal or on angelfood cake makes the Winter day seem much more tolerable.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has detailed instructions on freezing peaches in a syrup pack or sugar pack along with freezing crushed or pureed peaches.

I have a favorite recipe for freezing peaches that I received from a friend many years ago and have been using it ever since. I am sharing it for anyone that is interested. For one lug of peaches you will need 2 cans of frozen orange juice, 4 cans of water, and 8 cups of sugar. Mix together the orange juice, water and sugar in a large bowl. Dip the peaches one at a time in boiling water for 30 seconds then plunge into cold water to make peeling much easier. Peel the peaches and slice into the orange juice solution. Fill your containers leaving ample head space for expansion during freezing.

If I could just freeze a whole peach as is for later enjoyment I would but since I cannot this is one way I can enjoy the delicious peach flavor all year long!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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