Roasted Pepita

"What's a pumpkin?" was a common phrase I received from many of the preschoolers when I presented the word. These children are young, a little over 3 years old, so it's up to me to give them life's basic facts.

I brought in a pumpkin, cut it open, reached my hand inside and pulled the stringy, cold, seeded mess to show them.

The entire class "Wowed" and "EWWed" all at the same time, until they realized they were going to stick their hands inside too. Diligently working, the class managed to grab each and every tiny pumpkin seed.

Here is one diving in.
Getting a little messier.
Stirring and stirring. They enjoyed the slimy texture and the sounds the seeds made against the plastic bowl.
I dried the seeds off with a paper towel, stored them in a plastic bag, and took them home to roast in the oven.

The so simple ingredients I used:
  •      Dash of extra virgin olive oil
  •      Trader J's Sea Salt
  •      Ground black pepper

Bake on a large cookie sheet bout 20 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
About 10 minutes in I stirred them up a bit on the sheet to prevent any real sticking.
You're wondering where the word, "Pepita" comes from?
Well, strolling along the lovely isles of PriceRite in Chicopee, Massachusetts, I came across a bag of "Pepitas" and had to buy them.  Later realizing that it is simply just the Mexican name for "pumpkin seed".  Thank you PriceRite for bringing some diversity.

Lastly, a scrumptious crunchy and salty pile that I think my class and I finished in about 2 days.
Pumpkin seeds are so rich with vitamins and minerals. They're high in zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Dry-roasted in-the-shell seeds are only about 72 calories per 1/4 cup.

Oh, and if you are also wondering what we did with the hollowed pumpkin, we painted it and named him "Mr. Punkin" where he sat outside of the school for about 3 weeks until he became mushy and fuzzy. They loved talking to him on our way to the playground!

My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

My Mother's Pumpkin Bread
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder   
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
1 cup canned pumpkin   
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup water 
2 eggs  

                                                                 Sift dry ingredients and place in large bowl.
                                                                 In separate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, pumpkin, water, and eggs until smooth. 
                                                                 Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
                                                                 Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. 
                                                                 Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes.  
                                                                 Bread freezes nicely.

My mother always eats a piece of this bread heated up a bit with cream cheese on top. How YUM!


My Mother's Pumpkin Pie
Pie shell
-Take the easy route and buy a Pillsbury Uncooked Pie Crust  
-Watch the master, Alton Brown, make one and follow his directions. His preciseness, quality of ingredients, and skill are unmatchable at everything he bakes, cooks, and explains about food.

Pie filling
2 cups canned pumpkin or home-baked sugar pumpkin
                                                                 1 (14 oz) can low fat sweetened condensed milk                                                                  
                                                                                       2 eggs
                                                                 1 tsp cinnamon                                                                   
                                                                                       1/2 tsp ginger                                                                   
                                                                                       1/2 tsp nutmeg
                                                                                       1/2 tsp salt  
                                                                  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
                                                                  Combine all ingredients and mix well. 
                                                                  Pour into uncooked pie shell.  
                                                                  Bake for 15 minutes. 
                                                                  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes longer.


Pumpkin Ice Cream
Let us not forget the ice cream. My favorite is McCray's Country Creamery in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Cold, creamy, rich with pumpkin and a hint of pumpkin pie spice. Fall on a spoon.


Catie's Best Pumpkin Cheesecake Ever
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter


3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature 

1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin 

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk 

1/4 cup sour cream 

1 1/2 cups sugar 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Slice and add whip cream and sprinkled whole pecans.