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Pumpkin Patch Near Chicago: Great Foods You Can Make Using Pumpkins! Part One

This year at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground in our series of posts that have hopefully set you up for success this holiday season. Of course, most all of our writing has been committed toward the chief topic of our pumpkin patch and farm here in Homer Glen. We’ve spent a good deal of time describing how this year at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest is the biggest and best yet. Not only do we have a brand new lineup of rides, but we’ve also got more days of the least expensive rates we’ve ever offered.

But we’ve gone beyond just telling our readers about why our pumpkin farm is likely the best that they’ll find in all of the Midwest, if not further (if we do say so ourselves). We’ve provided you with some excellent ideas for Halloween decorations, talked about weird and fun facts about Halloween, shown you how to carve a pumpkin, and even described some of the best carnival foods from around the globe!

All that to say, we are getting back to the heart and soul of the conversation in this post, the pumpkin. Specifically, we are going to take a look at some of the best ways to include pumpkins within some autumnal dishes. It’s time to go beyond pumpkin pie, so read on if that sounds good!

Pumpkin Spice In Our Food

Before we get into the meat and pumpkins of our post (as they say), we would like a brief moment of your time to discuss the pervasiveness of pumpkin spice in our society. In less than a decade, from August until December, you can find some version of pumpkin spice in a wild amount of places. There are your usual suspects, like coffee shops and grocery stores full of specialty creamers, but it goes beyond that.

You can get pumpkin ale, pumpkin spice liquor, any kind of pumpkin spice cereal you could dream of, pumpkin spice toaster pastries, granola bars, yogurt, cookies, ice cream, bread, candy, pumpkin spice peanut butter, and the list goes on. You can even find it in traditionally savory dishes, like tomato sauce or chili seasoning packets. Don’t mistake this observation for hate. We love pumpkins here at Bengtson’s, but we just thought it was worth mentioning, seeing as how we are a pumpkin farm and all.

Pumpkin Meatballs

As you can see from the list above, most pumpkin-related dishes are sweet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for pumpkin flavoring in savory dishes as well. In addition to pumpkin tomato basil meatballs, Amy described how to make pumpkin chorizo chicken chili and pumpkin seed pesto butternut squash gnocchi as well! We recommend trying out all three, but for the purposes of this post we will have to confine ourselves to only taking a deeper dive into the pumpkin meatball recipe.

Before you get started, don’t be alarmed by the idea of the pumpkin flavor being predominant. It’s more of an accent than a true driver of the dish. Amy recommends you use a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree, but feel free to play with it and figure out how much is the right amount of pumpkin for you. Amy also used a combination of turkey and pork sausage, but she also notes that anyone who makes the dish should make it their own. That means making it a few times, trying it with different meats and pasta! Yum.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Speaking of “yum” and pasta, let’s talk about this skinny and vegetarian option. It’s really easy to make, too. Most people try to stay away from pasta for the most part because it can be too many empty carbs and calories. This version is still pasta, but it’s healthier pasta. So at a bare minimum, you can feel better about yourself while you eat it! Maybe the best part of this dish is the light pumpkin cream sauce. It’s a sauce that doesn’t use actual cream at all, but fat-free evaporated milk instead. Combining onions, evaporated milk, spices, and the pumpkin in together for a puree is a delicious option and one we certainly recommend!

Pumpkin, Beef, and Black Bean Chili

This one isn’t too out of the ordinary, it’s just your average, hearty beef and bean chili with a lovely autumnal twist to it. You’ll need a variety of spices and flavorful vegetables like chili powder, garlic, red bell pepper, black beans, cilantro, sour cream, and ground beef. But the trick to this recipe is having a large Dutch oven where all of the sweet pumpkin (or butternut squash) can blend together with the rest of the savory ingredients. Just try this one out, you won’t be disappointed.

Harvest Pumpkin Soup

This is actually a pumpkin-themed recipe that we can relay in its entirety! It’s that easy, so let’s get going. All you’ll need is 2 tbsp. Of unsalted butter, 1 large potato, 1 large onion, 4 ½ cups of chicken broth, 1 can of pure pumpkin, a bit of salt and pepper, ¼ tsp. Of ground nutmeg, and ½ pint of heavy cream.

Take a large pot and put it on medium heat, melting the butter you’ve just plopped in there. Add your onion and potato and let it rest, stirring occasionally, until the onion has gone basically see-through. Add your broth, boil the whole thing, and then cover it once you’ve reduced the heat to low. Let the goodness simmer until the potato is tender enough, which is usually between 10-12 minutes.

Next, we are ready to stir in the pumpkin. Get yourself an immersion blender and puree the entire concoction until it is smooth. After this is accomplished, you can stir in your salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Boil it again, cover it again, and let it simmer again, having turned the heat to low. Finally, stir in your cream and turn the heat up until the entire soup is hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. You’ve done it! It’s incredible, so slurp up!

Pumpkin-Ginger Waffles

The combination of crystalized ginger with the sweet pumpkin notes are quite the blend, and one worth mentioning given today’s topic. You’ll need what you would expect to make waffles, including flour, baking powder, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and unsalted butter. But you’ll also need finely chopped crystallized ginger, canned pumpkin puree, ground ginger, and more. The key to this recipe is to not overmix the crystallized-ginger mixture with the rest of the batter. It just feels, and tastes, like fall.

Pumpkin and Cauliflower Casserole

Coming from Country Living, this casserole combines vegetables with a cream sauce that speaks for itself. Throw in the accents of roasted pumpkin seeds, bread crumbs, goat cheese, and herbs, and you’ve got yourself a special fall treat.

For this recipe, you’ll need thyme leaves, hulled and roasted pumpkin seeds, whole-wheat bread crumbs, garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, half-and-half, goat cheese, along with the cauliflower and pumpkin. Our favorite part is the bread-crumb mixture that goes over the top. Make sure you serve it hot!

Visit Our Pumpkin Patch In Homer Glen

We are new and improved this year, with the biggest expansion in our 37-year history. We offer eight unlimited rides every day, with a variety of other activities for the whole family to fall in love with year after year. Keep in mind that we also offer discounted weekday admission, so make sure you come see us before our last day of the 2017 season, October 30th.

We are proud to have been a mainstay as an Illinois pumpkin patch for nearly four decades. We love hearing about how families have made it their annual fall tradition. We are only 40 minutes outside of Chicago, so come visit us, pick out a pumpkin or two, enjoy some great carnival food or eat at one of our food trucks, and make a great day of it!