Sunday, October 30, 2011

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

If you are using pumpkins as part of your Halloween decorations this year, once their decorative need is over, you can also use them to make easy pumpkin puree for pies and other recipes.  Note that pumpkins you have carved must be used within a day or so for puree because they spoil so quickly.  And if you are painting the pumpkin or gluing on decorations, make sure all are non-toxic if you will also be cooking them.

Here is how to make pumpkin puree: cut the pumpkin into small, evenly-sized pieces and remove the strings and seeds.  Put the pieces (skin side up) on a sheet pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for an hour at 375 degrees.  Let it cool slightly.  Then separate the pulp from the skin (you can scoop it with a spoon) and process the pulp in a blender.  You can use it right away in a pie or other dessert or freeze it for later.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DIY Halloween Treats 2011

Sweet shops and bakeries are full of all kinds of beautiful Halloween treats at this time of year.  But you don't have to pay big bucks or have the decorative skills of Martha Stewart to create fun seasonal treats.  Here are a few examples that are both fun and frugal:

BONE COOKIES 
(from Ladies Home Journal)
Serve by themselves or use to decorate a cake.

Ingredients:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. 
2. Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof bowl.  Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk the egg white mixture gently until the sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes).  Remove from heat.
3. Beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium-high until a stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes).
4. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a #12 plain tip, then pipe 3-1/2- to 4-inch-long bone shapes on two baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn oven off and let meringues dry in oven for 30 minutes more. Let bones cool before carefully removing from parchment paper.

CANDY APPLES

Ingredients:
  • 1 14-ounce package of caramels
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 apples
  • 6 popsicle sticks

Directions:
  1. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stir the caramels with 2 tablespoons of water until melted.
  2. Slide a stick into an apple, dip the apple into the caramel, then place on wax or parchment paper.

PUMPKIN FUDGE
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 10-ounce package cinnamon-flavored pieces
  • 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Directions:
1. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil; set pan aside.
2. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and pumpkin. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 234 degrees F, soft-ball stage (20 to 25 minutes). (Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.)
3. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer from saucepan. Stir in cinnamon-flavored pieces until melted. Stir in marshmallow creme and walnuts.
4. Immediately spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. Score into squares while warm. Let fudge cool to room temperature. When fudge is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Cut into squares. Cover tightly and chill for up to 1 week. Do not freeze. Makes about 96 pieces.