If you’re a pumpkin lover, then today is your special day. Because it’s the second annual Virtual Pumpkin Party hosted by Sara from Cake Over Steak. Which means that dozens and dozens of brand spanking new savory and sweet pumpkin recipes from some of your favorite food bloggers will be hitting the internet. It’s kind of epic.
Me? I’ve never really been bitten by the pumpkin bug. In fact, I’m sometimes even audibly opposed to the whole idea. Part of this is for social/cultural reasons. I just can’t stand the pumpkin mania that descends upon us every August. It’s too soon. August is for eating watermelon until your hands and face are sticky. And for enjoying fruity cocktails in the sun until you feel that warm glow both inside and out. August is not meant for pumpkin. So I find myself shunning pumpkin, maybe more harshly than it deserves. Because in my own weird way, it’s how I rebel against the early adopters.
Also, I’ve come to realize that I’m just not a super huge fan of either the canned stuff or the overpowering flavor that can come from pre-made pumpkin spice mixes. Sure, I’ve used them in the past with success. And I probably will again in the future. There is no denying their convenience. But maybe going forward, they won’t be my main source for pumpkin inspiration.
So to try to learn to love pumpkin (or at least to not so fiercely oppose it), I’m setting my focus on the fresh stuff. Real pumpkins. Grown locally and harvested in season. And you know what? I may be turning over a new leaf.
For last years #virtualpumpkinparty, I crafted this festive Pumpkin Beertail with Tequila and Spiced Rum (have you seen the color of this baby?). So this year, I decided to go the savory route. I picked up some fresh pumpkins from the local farm stand (the ones for cooking will be labeled “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”) and got to work at creating this easy Chicken and Pumpkin Chili. It’s super hearty, filled with big chunks of pumpkin, shredded chicken and both white and black beans. And it’s loaded with warming spices like ginger and cumin. Oh and don’t skip the corn tortilla chips for serving. They are absolutely necessary, in my humble opinion.
To make my life easier, I used shredded chicken that I removed from one of those grocery store rotisserie chickens. It’s one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts, and I have no shame in admitting that. But you can cook your own chicken at home and use that instead, if you prefer.
Dismantling a whole pumpkin can be a bit intimidating. And I’m certainly no expert at this task. I cut mine into wedges, scooped out and discarded the seeds. Then removed the skin with a standard vegetable peeler before dicing the flesh into cubes. If you have a better way of handling things, please let me know! Oh and if you’re opposed to pumpkin (or simply can’t find any fresh ones), you can substitute in an equal amount of peeled and cubed butternut squash or sweet potato.
Recipe adapted from Gluten Free Goddess
Hi Friends! Happy Monday! I’ve got an awesome Fall-themed celebratory cocktail recipe to share with you all today. It wasn’t the recipe that I had originally planned to post. In fact, I had something much more sensible in the queue (a vegan potato salad). But then I decided to say “the heck with it” and went with the giggle juice instead. I figured we’d all be happier if I did. Am I right?
Life lesson 127: cocktails always trump potato salads.
We haven’t even officially entered Fall yet, but I’m already getting to work on my Fall bucket list. Which always includes at least two obligatory trips to a local apple orchard for apple picking. It’s a quintessential New England activity that always puts a smile on my face. And did I mention that there are fresh donuts involved? Well, there are. That alone is reason enough to head out to the farms. Especially since they are apparently calorie free! Who knew?!?!
Oh and the fresh pressed apple cider (or “liquid gold”, as I like to call it) is to die for as well. It’s my favorite Fall beverage. And it just so happens to go exceedingly well with some of my go-to brown liquors, like bourbon and amaretto. I buy it by the gallons (I’m talking about the apple cider here, not the brown liquors) and then proceed to complain when it doesn’t all fit in my refrigerator. First world problems.
So true to form, I picked up some fresh apple cider from Cider Hill Farm last week and got straight to work on creating the recipe for these Apple Cider, Bourbon and Amaretto Cocktails with Brûléed Oranges. The drink part itself is very straightforward. There are no hard-to-find ingredients required or fussy techniques. In fact, all you really have to do is shake, pour and sip!
Given the relative ease of the drink portion of this cocktail, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to make up some brûléed orange slices for garnish, an idea that I saw in the New York Times cooking section a while back and have been wanting to re-create since then. They really only take an extra 5 minutes of work to prepare. And I think they add a fabulous touch to this cocktail, both with respect to taste and presentation.
Pro tip: look for oranges that are just slightly smaller in diameter than your glasses for maximum visual impact.
So what are some of your favorite Fall sippers (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)? And any other local apple orchards that I need to visit this season? Tell me!