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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Here is a recipe that is a staple in our family for the holidays.  I'm sure it is (or will become) one of yours when you try this simple recipe for everyone's favorite pumpkin dish. My stand-by recipe calls for canned pumpkin but, if you'd like to do it the old fashioned way and use a fresh pumpkin, I will include a second towards the end about that. I also use refrigerated pie crust when I'm in a time pinch and they work great.

2 eggs, beaten
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Dash of nutmeg (be careful, nutmeg is a POWERFUL spice.)
1 1/2 c. evaporated milk (about 2 small cans)
1 single crust pie crust

Preheat the oven to 425.  Press pie crust into pan (if not already done) and fold the edge under.  Crimp as desired.  Combine these ingredients in the order listed, mixing with a stand or hand mixer until well combined (but not foamy or fluffy).  Pour into pie crust (it may be very full, use caution).  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes. If crust begins to brown too rapidly, tear off a piece of aluminum foil, cut a hole in the middle that will allow the edges of the crust to be covered by the foil but not the pumpkin, and place it over the pie.  Pie is done when firm enough not to jiggle too much when shaken.  You can also use the old toothpick test for this one.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  This is a great pie to whip up right before company comes because it is great served warm with a dollop of cool whip or whipped cream.

Instructions for fresh pumpkin:

Stores will sell small "pie pumpkins" or "sugar pumpkins" around the holidays for just this purpose.  If you've ever cooked whole squash before, this process will be familiar to you.  Preheat to 350. Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half with a large knife.  Scoop out all the guts, keep the seeds for roasting if you want to.  fill a 9x13 (or larger) pan with about an inch of water. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, in the water in the pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.  This time will depend on the size of the pumpkin.  It's a good indication that the pumpkin is ready if it begins to cave in a little.  Once the pumpkin is cooled enough to handle, put a clean kitchen towel in a large bowl and use a big spoon and scoop out all the soft pumpkin from the shell, or skin.  Put it on the towel in the bowl and press the towel around and over it.  The purpose of this is to get as much of the water out of the pumpkin as you can.  You may need a second towel if your pumpkin is very watery.  If the pulp is too wet when you go to make the pie, it will take FOREVER to bake.  One average size pie pumpkin should be about all you need. Use this in place of the canned variety. 

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