Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Freezer Cooking/Baking Day, Part 2

Well I didn't get everything done that I intended, but I got a good head start on some things, anyway.

Here's my afternoon in pictures:

I tackled cooking a fresh pumpkin for the first time.

(Special thanks go to Kristi from Run the Earth, Watch the Sky for her hints on twitter and the link to her post on cooking pumpkin!)

I'd read somewhere that the smaller ones are best for eating, and have more flesh per pound inside, so I bought a small-ish (4.5 lb) "pie pumpkin". After washing it, the first task to was cut it in half. I expected it to be similar to cutting into a watermelon, but it was much harder than that--a tip I forgot 'till afterwards--microwaving for a minute or two will sometimes soften them up a bit.

The inside looked just as I was expecting--seeds and fibrous stuff. I was not expecting to be so hard to get out--I thought it would be like a cantaloupe, where the seeds and stuff just kind of slide out...

...but it took a steak knife and a spoon and my hands and lots of scraping to get the stringy stuff out.

The next step is to put the pieces cut side down on a baking sheet with an edge--'cause the juice does run out a bit. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour...

You can press on the rind with the back of a spoon to be sure it's soft. (Please don't look at the state of my oven--note to self--add Easy Off to my grocery list)

Let it cool 'till you can handle, then remove the rind/skin and throw that part away--this step was easy after it was cooked.

Some recipes/tutorials say to run it in your blender or food processor, but I just mashed it with a potato masher...

...and ended up with just over 4 cups of mashed up pumpkin.

After the pumpkin was done, I took the seeds, which I had rinsed and allowed to dry for awhile, and roasted them in a slower over for about 45-50 minutes. I added a tablespoon of butter and little salt and stirred them around a bit after the butter melted. I stirred them about every 15 minutes while they were cooking, then at the end I sprinkled about a tablespoon of sugar and some pumpkin pie spice and stirred them up, then let them cool down. They're good, they taste a little like kettle corn with the sweet and salty.

Overall, it was a fun experience, although a little more labor intensive than I realized to remove those insides! Money wise, I'm not sure it was any cheaper to do this than to buy the canned stuff--$3.49 ($.78/lb) yielded a quart of mashed pumpkin and about a cup of seeds. I'll have to do some comparison pricing to see what I find on that! Someday when we can actually live in our little house in the country I'd like to try my hand at growing a few--getting the pumpkins for free would make it well worth the investment of time and effort--otherwise, I'm not so sure.

Some of this will be used in a pie, hopefully tomorrow, and some will be frozen to make pumpkin bread a little closer to the holidays.

While the pumpkin was baking, I put some chicken on to cook--these are boneless, skinless thighs, which I buy at Sam's Club. They are just as easy and convenient to use as boneless skinless breasts, but less expensive and I think tastier. I've done this before with leg quarters that I buy on sale, this just happens to be what I have on hand right now.

My seasonings of choice, also from Sam's, are my old reliable Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, or Tony Chay-Chay's as we say in our family, dried onion flakes, and heaping tablespoon of chicken stock paste.

Add whatever seasonings you like, bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly, cover and simmer 'till the chicken is cooked all the way through. Once the chicken was thoroughly cooked, I removed it from the heat and let it cool for awhile...

...then removed the chicken and diced it up. This yielded about 4 1/2 cups of diced chicken, some of which I used to make a chicken pasta dish for supper, and the rest I froze.

I also ended up with two quarts of stock. I'll use that later this week--I've been wanting some chicken and dumplings ever since my Mom told me she cooked some last weekend, so that may be on my plan for later.
By the time I did this, washed and dried a load of clothes, and vacuumed, it was time to start supper--fettuccine cooked in some of the chicken stock, mixed with a couple of handfuls of diced chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, and several cheeses, then baked for 30-40 minutes while the kitchen was being cleaned up--my own version of Chicken Tetrazinni!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment of freezer cooking/baking day.
This post is linked to:
The Penny Pinching Party at The Thrifty Home

Until then, good cooking, and good eating!


  1. I'm not sure it's cheaper either! Don't forget you have to include the cost of the fuel for your oven too. If I didn't grow my own,I would certainly skip all the mess and work and buy the canned.


  2. Yes, I believe that's my conclusion, as well! It's worth it if you get the pumpkins basically for free or maybe even super cheap, but otherwise, probably not!

  3. I'm just imagining the warm, yummy fall cooking smells that must have been coming from your home.