My grandmother was a short little Italian woman, who lived through the Great Depression, and was a devout Roman Catholic. She was very poor for the good portion of her life, but she showed her love through food. One thing she would often say (after “mangia, mangia!”; Italian for “eat, eat!”) was that wasting was sinning. I often hear her words when it comes to various things, and pumpkin carving is no different!
We all picked out our various jack-o-lantern designs and got to carving. Marshall did a great job carving his design (with close supervision and age appropriate help). As we cleaned the pumpkins, we are always sure to save the edible inner flesh of the pumpkin.
Since moving into our current home, we like to set up hay bales for the pumpkins on our decent sized front porch.
With our pumpkins carved, it was time to get down to business in the kitchen! We pureed up all the “pumpkin meat” and had to bake up some goodness.
Marshall has always loved helping me in the kitchen, and I have always increased his work in age appropriate ways to help him learn. When he was little, the mixing and scooping was great for developing fine motor skills and learning patterns. Now as he’s gotten older, I have him read the measurements and do simple math. Example: he reads it requires 4 cups (of flour), we put in 1 cup and then I ask him how many more cups we need. Without realizing it, he does basic subtraction (4-1=3).
The first goodie we baked together were pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. I let the cookie dough sit in the fridge overnight to stiffen up, the dough was just too thin to me without it. These were so delicious- even better with freshly pureed pumpkin! And guys, this homemade cream cheese frosting was next level. I’m never buying store-bought again.
Thinking I caught her on the first cookie, I promptly put her in the living room and shut the baby gate between the living room and kitchen/dining room. Only for her to laugh at me and come back to the gate to show off yet another cookie. Yes, she squirreled away a small stash in the gated living room for when she would inevitably be put in there! I found her stash and disposed of them. Later, her dad would discover a different stash! She is too smart, good grief!
For a breakfast treat, we made mini pumpkin donuts. When Marshall was turning three, we bought an electric mini donut maker for Marshall’s police themed birthday- it was at a store close out sale for $4.99! I seriously love how quick and easy it is (also love using pancake mix in it for no hassle pancakes that can be taken on the go or used for pancake designs like car wheels).
For a third pumpkin recipe, we made pumpkin pizzelles. Pizzelles are a crisp, flat Italian cookie that is made in an iron. They come in many different flavors, traditionally vanilla or anise, but obviously pumpkin is most fitting for this time of year. I especially love making these cookies with my children, as it really connects us to our Italian roots.
Feel free to click the links to find the recipes we used for each pumpkin treat! Remember to save your own pumpkin flesh for baking when you do your own annual carving, as there is no better way to bake than with the fresh stuff. Even after making all this deliciousness, we still have several ziplock baggies full of pumpkin in the freezer! Perfect for fresh Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or cheesecake.
What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe? Let us know!