On my drive to work every day, I pass by a lot of farms. Several of these farms have roadside stands, selling fresh produce like tomatoes, zucchini and corn during the summer. Now, they’re overflowing with gorgeous pumpkins and squash.
I stopped by one of the stands to pick up a few for my family (we love squash…or at least the adults do. The six year old scrunches up her nose when she tastes it). I was amazed by the sheer variety they had for sale–so many different shapes, textures and colors!
There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkin: there’s the classic pie, of course, but also soups, stews, casseroles, quick breads and pasta sauce. Many of us think of pumpkin as something for dessert (probably because pumpkin pie is sooo good!), but it’s equally tasty in savory dishes and main courses like this recipe for pumpkin soup. It might sound odd if you’ve never tried it, but it’s surprisingly yummy. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
This recipe calls for canned pumpkin. If you’re interested in trying it with fresh pumpkin, here’s how to cook it.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
1 Tbsp. light stick butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can unsweetened pumpkin (or 1 3/4 cup mashed cooked pumpkin)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp. radish, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly.
Add pumpkin and remaining ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.
Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Purée mixture, in batches, in an electric blender.
Return to saucepan and cook until thoroughly heated.
Garnish with parsley, chopped cilantro, chopped radish or nutmeg (optional).
Fall weather is the perfect excuse to whip up a scrumptious meal in your slow cooker. Nothing says “comfort food” like coming home to a hot, ready-to-eat meal! I love my slow cooker–it helps me put healthy, inexpensive and delicious meals on the table no matter how busy I am. Which got me thinking: how in the world did anyone ever get by without one?!
Hay-Boxes and Bean Pots
Before there were slow cookers, there were hay-boxes. These clever devices were just wood boxes filled with hay–nothing fancy. The cook would get a meal boiling on the stove, then remove the pot from the heat and place it directly into the hay box. The hay would retain the heat so that the food could keep cooking until dinnertime. What a great idea!
The first modern slow cooker was introduced in 1970–the “bean pot”. Little did they know that someday, families everywhere would be using slow cookers for so much more than beans!
Slow Cookers for Everyone
These days, there are plenty of slow cookers to fit your family’s needs and budget. There are even digital versions like the one below–all you have to do is set the programmable timer and walk away. The cooker selects the right temperature and self-adjusts to warming mode at the end of the cooking time.
Some people prefer to keep it simple with just “Hi” and “Lo” settings…and a pretty pattern to liven up the kitchen!
Or maybe one cooker just isn’t enough for your big family or frequent potlucks.
Here’s a cooker that has two different inserts, one for roasting and one for slow cooking, doubling the possibilities.
And of course, if you’re taking it to a potluck or family dinner, you’ll want a travel bag to transport it easily with no spillage!
All this talk of slow cookers is making me hungry…how about you? Here’s a mouthwatering recipe from one of our customers. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out!