Hello pumpkin and winter squash…

I must admit, fall is not my favorite time of year.  Mostly because I utterly despise the cold, and know that winter is not far behind.  I know, embrace the seasons, no need to jump ahead; but I’m a shorts and flip-flops kind of girl (still trying to figure out how I can relocate to an island where it’s warm and sunny year round).

You would think that one should be accustomed to the cold after enduring 10+ years of Chicago winters.  Au contraire, I still cringe at the thought of Chicago’s bitterly cold and windy winter days (there were some days when my Ugg boots, wool socks, and North Face parka were simply no match for the windy city’s bone-chilling cold).

And even though I love pumpkin and winter squash, I was not quite ready to admit that fall had arrived.

But, I’m giving in.  That means it’s time for pumpkin pie.  It’s time for the welcoming and warming aroma of autumn spices — cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cardamom — to envelope my home.

It’s officially pumpkin/winter squash season in my kitchen.


Serving the pumpkin pie in the shells makes for a fun and festive presentation, don’t you think?

It’s the tinniest bit of a hassle, as the shells are quite fragile.  You need to be extra careful when scooping out the flesh, making sure the shells stay completely intact.  Otherwise the filling will seep out the bottom and sides, and make a big mess (I’m speaking from experience here; however, I did manage to salvage that one by mending it with a couple of toothpicks).

In the past, I’ve used this same pumpkin filling with a homemade gingersnap crust.  Since this ‘pie’ doesn’t have a crust, I added a sprinkling of crumbled gingersnap cookies on top.

Lastly, finished with a nice big dollop of homemade hand-whipped cream (my hand mixer recently bit the dust, so had to put some muscle into it and do it the old-fashioned way).

In my eagerness to snap a few photos, I jumped the gun and neglected to let this batch of pumpkins cool long enough such that the whipped cream melted (still quite tasty).

However tempted you might be, let the pies cool off a bit before you dig in.


All I can think about now is how else might I utilize winter squash.

More pumpkin/winter squash dishes are definitely on the horizon…

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The smaller, yellow variety of winter squash is called Sweet Dumpling, but you can make this pumpkin dessert with other varieties of pumpkin/winter squash (ideally, smaller ones, around three-quarter to a pound each).

The larger, orange one is an heirloom Japanese varietal called Black Futsu.  I’ve read that its flesh has the rich taste of hazelnuts (can’t wait to try it).

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Sweet Dumpling Pumpkin Pies

3 [Sweet Dumpling] Squash/Pumpkins (about 3/4 to 1 pound each)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/3 cup cream
crumbled ginger snap cookies for topping
whipped cream for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tops off the squash and scoop out the seeds.  Place the tops back on the squash.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes or until the squash are fork tender.

Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch thickness of flesh intact around the sides and bottom.  Scoop out the flesh in the tops as well.  You should have about 1 1/2 cups flesh from the three squash combined.

Place the scooped out squash, along with the sugar, maple syrup, molasses, spices, eggs, and cream in a blender.  Blend until very smooth.  Place the squash shells on the baking sheet.  Pour the filling into the shells so that it’s evenly distributed amongst the three shells (you should have enough filling to completely fill all three shells).

Bake with the tops off (place the tops on the baking sheet as well) for 45-50 minutes until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Top with crumbled gingersnaps and whipped cream.

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