I have found that home cooks, like me, are most likely to want to cook as much as they possibly can from scratch during the holidays. We want to make those special, heirloom recipes we set aside to make only once-a-year, the recipes that family members annually request and about which friends rave. They are often more time-consuming than recipes we make the rest of the year. Something about the holidays – family and friends gathering together in our home and around our table – makes us want to put our best foot forward in the kitchen.

Several years back, I started making pumpkin pies for the holidays using homemade pumpkin puree made from oven-roasted pumpkin. While the pies are incredible, they were a lot of work. I would get out the largest, sharpest butcher knife I had, and brace myself for a full-on struggle as I attempted to cut the unrelenting orange squash into two clean halves. Then, with a large metal spoon, I would laboriously scrape the stringy, slimy mess of seeds until my hands were tired and the insides were completely clean. No more, my friends, no more. I have discovered the secret to roasting pumpkin that entirely eliminates the need for a heavy duty butcher knife and the infamous slimy seed situation. Because cooking from scratch during the holidays doesn’t have to be so difficult. Taking this simple shortcut will save you tons of time in the kitchen and allow you to spend more time with the family and friends you have gathered around you this holiday season. This same method can also be used on other firm squash like butternut, spaghetti, and acorn. Here’s how it’s done: IMG_8308How to Whole-Roast a Pumpkin 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pierce your pumpkin with a fork 4 or 5 times (I used a “sugar pumpkin” also known as a pie pumpkin). Spray a baking sheet and the exterior of the pumpkin with PAM Cooking Spray.

Using PAM helps prevent the pumpkin from sticking and makes for easier cleanup of any juices that bake onto the pan during the roasting process. It’s a great time-saver, is zero calories, and their new and improved formula leaves up to 99% less residue than bargain cooking sprays.

Place the entire pumpkin onto the baking sheet and place it into your preheated oven. 

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Bake your pumpkin whole for 1 hour, or until the pumpkin is extremely tender.

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Slice your pumpkin in half. The knife should slide through it like butter – it’s that soft and manageable.

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Scoop out the seeds. They will come out extremely easily compared to a raw pumpkin. Trust me, it’s amazing. Peel the skin off the exterior of the pumpkin while you’re at it. It will come right off.

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To make Homemade Pumpkin Puree: Drop your roasted pumpkin into a food processor and whirl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Voila! Homemade pumpkin puree to be used in place of canned puree in all your favorite pumpkin recipes for the holidays.

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PAM Cooking Spray is hosting a $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway for my readers. To enter, leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

What holiday dish are you most looking forward to making this season? 

How to Roast a Pumpkin Whole & How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

The easiest way to roast a pumpkin and how to make beautiful homemade pumpkin puree, too.

Yields: 2-3 cups pumpkin puree, depending on the size of your sugar pumpkin

  • 1 sugar or pie pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350. Pierce the pumpkin deeply with a fork 4-5 times around the exterior. Spray a sheet pan and the exterior of the pumpkin with non-stick cooking spray. Place the pumpkin onto the sheet pan and place the entire thing into the preheated oven. Roast for 1 hour or until extremely tender.

!To Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree:

Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds (you should find this to be much easier than when doing the same with a raw pumpkin). Peel away the skin from the pumpkin meat. Add the pumpkin meat to a food processor and whirl until smooth, about 30 seconds. If your puree seems watery here, strain it through a fine mesh sieve (I've only encountered watery pumpkin when making puree out of much larger pumpkins; the puree pictured has not been strained). Use your puree in place of canned puree in your favorite [pumpkin recipes|http://alaskascratch.wpengine.com/?s=pumpkin&submit=Search]. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days or freeze.

  • Cook time: 1 hour

Disclaimer: This post and giveaway are sponsored by PAM Cooking Spray. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

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