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Suggestions for using canned pumpkin, refried beans...

I'm thinking savory over sweet. Simple over complicated, healthy over not healthy, etc.

For instance, I could add pumpkin to pancakes or white bean soup. Do you have any tricks or suggestions?

I'm trying to clean out my pantry. I keep shopping, but certain things seem to linger.

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  1. Believe it or not, adding a can of pumpkin puree to a pot of plain 'ole ground beef chili really improves its texture. You won't taste it so much, but it just gives the chili such "body". Pumpkin chilli is quite popular at the Morton, IL Pumpkin Festival. The pumpkin will also increase the nutritional value of the chili!

    1. You can make Pumpkin Soup using the canned pumpkin, some broth and not much else besides seasonings (I like curried myself). Similar to Butternut Squash Soup. I've also heard it's good mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, though I've yet to try that.
      Refried beans, get some big flour tortillas and make bean and cheese burritos, add some leftover meat too if you want.

      1. I was in the same situation. You can use pumpkin in any banana bread/muffin/cookie/whatever recipe, instead of the banana.

        For savoury, try pumpkin hummus - you blend it in with the chickpeas (make sure there are still more chickpeas than pumpkin). You'll need to ramp up the seasonings a little, though.

        1. As long as the canned pumpkin is good quality, I use it all the time for spinach and pumpkin lasagna.

          The components:

          -Canned pumpkin seasoned with rosemary, sage, salt and pepper
          -Frozen spinach, thawed, drained well, mixed with part-skim ricotta, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper
          -Bechamel sauce (using skim milk is just fine, and I use half olive oil/half butter for the roux)
          -no-boil noodles
          -part-skim mozzarella cheese
          -Parmesan cheese

          It's not exactly health food with all the cheese, but it's satisfying in modest portions (and I have a big appetite!) I freeze individual portions of it for emergency lunch/dinner.

          Refried beans would also work well as a chili thickener if you're from the beans-in-my-chili-isn't-a-crime camp. I LOVE the idea of adding pumpkin as a soup/stew thickener- will have to try that sometime!

          10 Replies
          1. re: 4Snisl

            The lasagna sounds right up my alley. But good quality canned pumpkin....aren't they all kinda the same? I think I buy Libby, old-school brand name?

            I like the idea of refried beans as a chili thickener - thanks. Definitely think chili with beans is STILL CHILI! I find the other view tiresome.

            1. re: JaneRI

              Maybe it's the power of suggestion, but somehow I thought the lasagna tasted better when I used organic canned pumpkin that I got during the after-Thanksgiving clearance at Williams-Sonoma.

              Libby should work just fine. My hope is that ALL canned pumpkin would work fine, but I wonder if "lesser quality" ones would be more watery, off in texture, etc.

              1. re: 4Snisl

                Actually, I hate the W-S packaged foods. I don't think they're bad, but I don't think the actually quality even comes CLOSE to the high prices. In the end, they're still packaged foods. If I wanted better quality (and was more ambitious), I'd just buy a fresh pumpkin and roast it.

                1. re: JaneRI

                  Yep, but on clearance, it was less expensive than store brand canned pumpkin!

                  As I said, it could have been the power of suggestion, but I found it tasted closer to fresh roasted squash (straight up) than other canned pumpkin I've used. This is what gave me the notion that there might be differences in canned pumpkin.

                  Would I pay full price for that can of pumpkin? Probably not....especially not for the lasagna, which tastes great with pumpkin that is not of such expensive pedigree ;).

                2. re: 4Snisl

                  Most canned pumpkin (and frozen pumpkin pies) are made from squash, not pumpkin, so look carefully. Libbys is 100% pure pumpkin, and that's why they put that prominently on their label. It's the kind of product that people ask for by brand name, like Hellmans mayo.

                  1. re: coll

                    Oh- never seen a can of pumpkin that contains other squashes in it. Interesting....

                    1. re: 4Snisl

                      Neither have I. Only ever seen ones labeled "100% pumpkin".

                      1. re: JaneRI

                        The US government classifies pumpkin and winter squash together, so they can be labelled as either, whether frozen or canned. You just have to look for the companies that brag about the pumpkin content, that's how you can tell. If it says 100% Pumpkin then you're good to go!

                        1. re: coll

                          Thanks coll! I learn something new every day :).

                  2. re: 4Snisl

                    The worst canned pumpkin I ever bought was, tragically, organic. I'll never turn my back on One Pie again. Besides, I love the One Pie labels.

              2. If you mixed a bit of the canned pumpkin w/ refried beans, you have the beginings of a seasonal empanda. Add some allspice, ground beef/turkey, dried cranberries...onion, etc.
                Could be really good - or really awful. Any frozen pie crust in the freezer? use that for the shell.

                3 Replies
                1. re: stellamystar

                  Or a veg version with some sharp cheese instead of the meat.

                  1. re: stellamystar

                    Sounds yummy. I believe those are usually fried....could they be baked successfully do you think? I'm not one to fry at home.

                    1. re: JaneRI

                      I would bake them on a rack over a cookie sheet ... I wouldn't fry them either.

                  2. How about homemade pumpkin ravioli? delishh especially if you have a lot of eggs

                    1. I just used a can of pumkin to make relatively healthy chocolate cupcakes. Believe it or not, someone at a Weight Watchers meeting suggested mixing boxed cake mix (I used Devil's Food) with a 15 oz can of pumpkin and half a can of water and baking as directed on the back of the box. You lose the oil and eggs and each of the 24 cupcakes it makes is worth only 1 WW point. They are so moist and tasty. For the second batch of 12, I added about a tablespoon of flax seed meal for more health benfits. I think those were even better.
                      Even though I typically turn my nose up at convenience foods, I had both the pumkin and the boxed cake mix sitting around and decided to give it a try. I will probably go out and buy some other boxed cake mixes to do it again one of these days. Add fresh berries and whipped cream (or fake topping if you are watching your weight) and you have a tasty and kind of good for you dessert.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mary0201

                        My granddad always used a dollop of refried beans in his beef or vegetable soups - and they were always wonderful. Refried beans freeze well, so I keep any leftovers for this.

                        Refried beans are good for breakfast, over corn tortillas with huevos and salsa... my husband's granddad used to make bean sandwichs but it never sounded that appealing to me!

                        I also make a quick layered dip with refried beans, seasoned sour cream and cheese - very kid friendly snack.

                        1. re: mary0201

                          Mary0201 - I think I know what I am doing this afternoon!!!! Thanks for the tip... (DH is on WW)

                        2. We've been adding a dollop of pumpkin puree to our oatmeal and it's been a wonderful addition. It gives a nice, hearty flavor to the oatmeal without adding many calories. And it boosts the fiber content, so it's a real winner from a healthy eating perspective.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: glutton

                            Glutton & Adrienne, thank you SO much! Both of these ideas/recipes are totally "me"!

                            1. re: JaneRI

                              Glad to hear it! Let us know how your pumpkin turns out!

                          2. Pumpkin Gnocchi Casserole (way easier than it sounds, and delicious)

                            Gnocchi ingredients:
                            16-oz whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
                            1 large egg
                            1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
                            salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
                            1 TB sugar
                            1 cup pureed pumpkin
                            1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
                            Salt, pepper, sage, parmesan, butter

                            Mix all of the Gnocchi ingredients in a bowl with a fork
                            Boil a big pot of water
                            Take two big spoons and make 1 TB portions of dough, dropping them into the water as you go, going quickly and making only one layer of gnocchi in the pot
                            When they float, remove them into a baking dish and make another layer of gnocchi on the stove until all of the dough is used up
                            When all of the gnocchi are boiled and are sitting in the baking dish, add butter, sage and salt and stir. Then top with pepper and parmesan. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the top is browned. Serve warm.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Adrienne

                              This sounds DELICIOUS! So this gnocchi doesn't require ridging using a fork (or specialized roller)?

                              1. re: 4Snisl

                                I've always reserved that level of special treatment for potato gnocchi, which really take on the shape into which they're pressed. Since this recipe is based on my ricotta gnocchi recipe, no such forking was required. But to be honest when I make this recipe I'm especially casual with the shape of my gnocchi because they're going into a casserole anyway. If you wanted to make a more perfect plating of the same dish, I would recommend doing the "Two spoons" method but dropping the formed gnocchi into a plate of all purpose flour instead of straight into the water, and lightly coating the gnocchi in flour before dropping a batch into the water (and ideally the water has reached a rolling boil and then you've turned the heat down just a touch before throwing in your gnocchi). This helps them keep their form. Also, you could just as easily make the "topping" ingredients into a sauce and ladle it over some pumpkin gnocchi on a plate.

                                It really is delicious.

                            2. We use refried beans on homemade nachos. Add a can of chopped chilies and some cheese and you are good to go!

                              1. I mix refried beans with crumbled farmer's cheese then stuff that into fresh poblano peppers (top off, seeds and veins removed), then bake that in a can of tomatoes with chiles (along with pork chops, last time I did this). We're going to have this with pulled pork on Sunday when company comes over. :)