Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Whipped feta with homemade pumpkin puree

Many people will tell you canned pumpkin puree is better than homemade pumpkin puree. But that is simply not true. Here's what they mean:  There isn't a noticeable difference between the two when used in baked goods. And since homemade pumpkin puree takes more effort than opening a can, why bother?

I'm here to tell you homemade pumpkin puree tastes significantly better than canned puree. I actually enjoy eating straight homemade pumpkin puree. Can you imagine doing that with the canned version? 

But I'll admit, it's true—there isn't much of a difference in baked goods. So that brings us back to the initial question: Why bother making homemade puree? Well, I think there are some instances in which it does indeed make a difference in taste, particularly in no-bake recipes, like the pumpkin whipped feta dip recipe that you'll find in this post!

What is pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin puree is the cooked and blended flesh of the squash with the seeds and skin removed. 

What type of pumpkin should I use for pumpkin puree?

Use sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. It’s the same thing but with different names. They weigh a couple of pounds and are usually 8ish inches in diameter. DO NOT use great big jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They tend to be bitter and stringier. 

What is the difference between canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin?

Canned pumpkin may be a combination of a few different types of pumpkins. It may even contain other types of squash. It is made by steaming the pumpkin, scraping out the flesh, and blending it.

Fresh pumpkin, on the other hand, is made from one type of pumpkin, and the flesh is roasted before it is blended. I think roasting yields the best flavor because excess water evaporates and the flesh slightly caramelizes in the oven resulting in a sweeter flavor. 

Visually, canned pumpkin is significantly darker in color than fresh pumpkin. Also, fresh pumpkin is thinner than the canned version.

Pros of using canned pumpkin

  • It is a consistent product. Every can contains the same moisture, texture and color. 
  • It’s convenient.
  • Most people say they can’t taste a difference when used in baked goods

Pros of using fresh pumpkin

  • It definitely tastes better on its own.
  • It’s cheaper.
  • You get pumpkin seeds which make a tasty snack.

When should I use fresh vs canned pumpkin?

I don’t think anyone will notice a difference in your baked goods as to whether you use fresh or canned pumpkin puree. I think it makes the most difference when using it uncooked, like in a dip. I think pumpkin puree straight from the can has a slightly metallic taste.

Homemade pumpkin puree

Yield: Makes 4 cups puree

Time: About 15 minutes prep, 60 minutes cooking


  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Wash and dry pumpkin and cut in half.
  3. Use ice cream or cookie scoop to scrape out seeds and pulp. Set aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds if desired.
  4. Brush avocado oil on flesh side of pumpkin halves.
  5. Place halves flesh side down on baking sheet. Use knife to pierce pumpkin skin several times.
  6. Place in oven for 60 minutes, flipping pumpkins to flesh side up halfway through cooking.
  7. Remove from oven and peel skin off each half.
  8. Transfer pumpkin to food process and process until smooth, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  9. Place pumpkin puree in refrigerator up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Whipped pumpkin feta dip

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 10 minutes


  • 10 ounces sheep’s milk feta cheese, block, drained from brine
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked


  1. Put feta in food processor and blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, thyme, honey, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer dip to refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
  4. Garnish with thyme leaves, honey, black pepper, and pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve with toasted pita, crackers, or baguette.

Notes: Do not use feta crumbles. Manufacturers coat feta crumbles with anti-caking agents to prevent them from clumping together. That means they won't blend into a smooth dip. Also, use sheep's milk feta, which is sharper and tangier than cow's milk feta, which can be bland.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Halloween pizzas


I promise the reason this pizza is black isn't because it was in the oven for too long! I purposely made the dough black with a very small amount of charcoal powder.

Food-grade activated charcoal powder is most commonly made by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are completely burnt, according to Eater. Then the ash is processed with steam at extremely high temperatures. 

It is odorless and flavorless and was very popular across social media about six years ago because of its ability to turn foods a deep black hue. 

Important: Don't eat activated charcoal powder if you take medications because it can bind with those medications and cause them to be less effective, according to CNN.  Of course, you can skip it if you aren't comfortable using it or if you don't have any.

Some tips for making homemade pizza

  • A pizza stone makes the best crust, but if you don't have one, your next best bet is to use a cast iron skillet.
  • Cook the pizza in an oven as hot as your oven allows. My oven goes up to 500 degrees, but pizza ovens are around 800 degrees.
  • I recommend using bread flour because it has more gluten and protein than AP flour, which results in a denser, chewier crust. Pizza flour also exists, and it works well here, too, but it's a little harder to find.
  • If you can't find pizza yeast, use instant yeast, and allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl for 30 minutes after kneading it.

Halloween pumpkin pizzas

Yield: 4 personal pizzas

Time: About 30 minutes


For the pumpkin pizza sauce

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the pizza dough

  • 2 cups (240 grams) bread flour (plus 1/4 cup reserved in case dough is too sticky)
  • 1 packet Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon food-grade activated charcoal powder
  • 2/3 cups warm water (130 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Possible toppings

  • Mozzarella medallions, cut into ghost shapes
  • Capers
  • Mozzarella pearls, cut in half 
  • Black olives, sliced
  • String cheese, pulled apart


For the sauce

  1. Combine pumpkin puree, parmesan, garlic, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

For the pizza dough

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If using pizza stone, place in oven while oven heats up.
  2. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and food-grade activated charcoal powder in bowl. Add water and oil and mix until it comes together. Dough should be a slightly sticky. If it's too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup additional bread flour.
  3. Knead dough for about 4 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. I prefer to use my hands.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Flatten and stretch dough with hands until each piece is about 8 inches in diameter. 
  5. Spread pumpkin pizza sauce on dough, place dough on pizza stone or onto baking sheet, and stick in oven. Bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Place toppings on pizza. Return to oven just until cheese melts.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.

For the toppings

  1. To make ghosts, place capers on mozzarella medallions to resemble eyes.
  2. To make eyeballs, place halved mozzarella pearls on sauce in pairs. Place black olive slices on center of pearls.
  3. To make spider web, place string cheese pieces in cross and X. Use string cheese pieces to make 2 giant circles on top of the cross and x. Make spiders with olives by using olive slices as the body and halved slices as the legs.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Witch Broom Puff Pastry


This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Today we are making witch brooms out of puff pastry! I first saw this idea on TIkTok, and it looked extremely simple. But then when I tried making it myself, I realized there's a significant learning curve. So I'm going to show you the easiest way I've found to make these.

We start with a roll of puff pastry. There are several different puff pastry brands you can buy, but my favorite brands are the Trader Joe's all butter puff pastry or Jus-Rol puff pastry which is near the refrigerated pie dough. The Trader Joe's puff pastry is seasonal, so if you like making puff pastry treats, now is the time to stock up on it.

Then we're going to cut the puff pastry into 12 pieces. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a pizza cutter to make 4 vertical lines with the sheet in landscape mode, flip it to portrait mode, and then make 3 vertical lines.

At this point you'll need to decide if you want to make sweet or savory witch brooms (or a combination of the two)!

Spread either the Challenge Salted Caramel Butter Snack Spread or the Challenge Everything Butter Snack Spread on half the puff pastry squares and top with either cinnamon-sugar mixture or shredded cheese. The Challenge snack spreads are really flavorful and make this step so easy!

Place a second puff pastry square on top of each square with filling, and use a pizza cutter (or knife) to make slits, making sure to leave a 1/2-inch border at the top. The slits are the brooms' bristles. Then you'll need to twist each slit to help keep them separate while baking so it doesn't just turn into one big glob.

Place a pretzel rod on the one end of the puff pastry square's border, and gently wrap it up in the dough, trying as best as possible to prevent the bristles from clumping together. Place the brooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush them with egg wash. If you're doing a combination of sweet and savory brooms, place them on separate baking sheets.

Bake the brooms until they're golden brown. Different puff pastry brands seem to have different baking times, so you may need to bake them anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

These brooms are best when they're eaten the day they're baked. If necessary, you can prep them and keep them wrapped in the refrigerator up to one day in advance.

Witch Broom Puff Pastry

Yield: 6 brooms

Time: About 45 minutes


For sweet witch brooms

For savory witch brooms


For sweet witch brooms

  1. Thaw puff pastry if necessary.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Cut puff pastry dough into 12 pieces.
  5. Spread butter on 6 of the pieces and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the butter. Cover each piece with the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry.
  6. Use pizza cutter to make vertical slits in dough leaving a 1/2-inch border at top. Twist each of the slits.
  7. Place pretzel on border and gently wrap dough around it.
  8. Place broom on parchment paper and gently spread the slits.
  9. Brush egg wash on puff pastry and bake for about 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

For savory witch brooms

  1. Thaw puff pastry if necessary.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut puff pastry dough into 12 pieces.
  4. Spread butter on 6 of the pieces and sprinkle the parmesan on top of the butter. Cover each piece with the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry.
  5. Use pizza cutter to make vertical slits in dough leaving a 1/2-inch border at top. Twist each of the slits.
  6. Place pretzel on border and gently wrap dough around it.
  7. Place broom on parchment paper and gently spread the slits.
  8. Brush egg wash on puff pastry and bake for about 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

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