Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

We had this pumpkin cheesecake for dessert on Christmas Eve. We have no standard dessert for this elegant dinner, but I did have a plate of cookies for backup in case this didn't work out. This recipe from America's Test Kitchen (like all ATK, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country recipes) is a piece of work. Lots of ingredients, lots of steps and lots of equipment. The results were well worth the trouble, and complemented our beautiful dinner perfectly. Andrew thought it is the best thing I've made with pumpkin so far. It really is restaurant quality, but I have other favorites too.

a normal piece

a Kevin piece (loves the cream)

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

5 ounces graham crackers
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg, cloves and allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, diced, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream

1. Crust - Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar and spices in food processor until finely ground. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Pour crumbs into springform pan and, using your hand, spread crumbs into an even layer. Using something with a flat bottom, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan.
Bake about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

2. Filling - Bring about 4 quarts of water to simmer in a stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin: spread pumpkin over three layers of paper towels and top with three more layers. Pat until towels are saturated. Discard paper towels.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minutes. Add one third of sugar mixture and beat 1 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add remaining sugar mixture in two additions. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined. Add 3 eggs, beat at medium low for 45 seconds. Add 2 eggs and beat again for 45 seconds. Add heavy cream and beat on low for 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

4.  Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square double layer of heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 - 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

My foil is not 18 inches wide so I believe it was not water tight in the roasting pan. Next time I will get a wider roll of foil in order to insure no water gets in. Also I took it out when the thermometer read 150 degrees, but thought it was too wobbly. It firmed up with sitting. I don't know why I thought the crust needed to come up the sides, the recipe doesn't call for it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pumpkin Chili

Are you stuck in a blizzard? Warm up with some pumpkin chili. This is my standard turkey chili recipe; I've been making it for years. I think the original recipe came from Cooking Light in its first year of publication. I played around with the recipe by adding pumpkin, and made a good chili even better.

Pumpkin Chili
1 lb ground raw turkey
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups diced pumpkin
2 tbsps chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
19 oz canned kidney beans (optional)
6 oz tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder

Coat a large pan with cooking spray, place over medium heat and cook onion and pumpkin until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove. In the same pan, brown the turkey, stirring to crumble. Add the vegetables back in and the rest of the ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes to an hour.

Serve with cheddar cheese and avocado on top.

I used one tablespoon regular chili powder and one tablespoon chipotle chili powder. It was too warm for the Hub and me, the boys liked the heat. Next time I'd cut back on the chipotle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream Frosting

I recently saw a recipe for Kahlua cupcakes with pumpkin frosting and thought they got it backwards. It should be the other way around - pumpkin cupcakes with Kahlua frosting, so I came up with this recipe. Several people have mentioned to me that the Martha Stewart recipe for pumpkin cupcakes is a keeper. And I did look at it, but my problem with MS's recipe is that it contains two sticks of butter. In my opinion, that's just unnecessary, anything would taste good with an extra cup of butter.
This recipe makes a dozen cupcakes, which would make an excellent gift. Or eat six and give away six. Where I live outside Washington DC, gourmet cupcakes from specialty shops cost $3 to $5 each.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg and cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer in a large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugars and oil. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
Fill 12 cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely before frosting.

Kahlua Frosting
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tbsp Kahlua
8 oz powdered sugar

Beat together adding more powdered sugar as necessary to desired consistency.

I went a little light on the frosting, but we all liked them that way. Another tip: I bought these pretty little cupcake liners with snowflakes on them (ironically they are from Martha) because I was thinking gift the whole time here. I tried baking them with one and two liners and it didn't make any difference, you couldn't see the pattern on the liner after baking. I added another one after they cooled, but they didn't fit tightly and looked exactly like I just stuck another one on it to cover up the ugly wrapper. Hmm there's got to be an easier way. Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pumpkin Soda Bread

I thought you'd like to see what my final Christmas cookie platters looked like with nothing but pumpkin cookies.

Since Kevin is here from Ireland, some Irish soda bread seemed appropriate. This recipe comes from and is remarkably easy to make. It makes a small rustic loaf of hearty bread. To tell the truth I wasn't expecting much because it has only 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, but I was surprised at how much I like it and have been eating it for breakfast for the past couple of days. Everyone like it hot from the oven with a little butter and honey.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tempura Pumpkin with Cinnamon Ice Cream

This recipe is adapted from Creole Christmas Cookbook by Emeril Lagasse. Really Emeril? This is what people of Creole descent eat around the holidays? Tempura is traditionally a Japanese method of cooking. And frankly I felt I could have been on Iron Chef when I was making this rather complicated recipe, which didn't seem like it would be anyone's standard Christmas dessert. The announcer would be saying, "What is Chef Joanne up to? Something is going into the ice cream maker. Will this be a dessert? The pumpkin is going into the fryer." Fryer? Who owns a fryer?

This recipe has three parts: cinnamon ice cream, caramel sauce and pumpkin tempura. The simple cinnamon ice cream is fabulous, and Andrew thought is was the best ice cream we ever made. I don't know about that, but it is good. The caramel sauce was a total bust. We overcooked it or did something else wrong, but it didn't taste right. The tempura pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon sugar was also really good. I used white pumpkin with its mild sweet flavor.

Karen, Andrew, the Hub and I did the taste testing. The girls liked the pumpkin better and the guys went for the ice cream. The presentation was beautiful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pumpkin French Toast Stuffed with Blackberry-Caramel Mascarpone

This recipe from Bobby Flay and the Food Network is marked as easy and only taking 1/2 an hour to put together. I found it labor intensive and ingredient intensive. The pumpkin french toast is great. I'm not sure the blackberry mascarpone stuffing or the blackberry caramel syrup add much. We ate it the first day with all the components and it was OK, but not particularly better than the second day with some warm maple syrup for the Hub and just powdered sugar for me.

It's certainly impressive though. And if you needed a breakfast to really make a statement - this is it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pumpkin and Bacon Quiche

This recipe was adapted from a similar one I found in a magazine. It made a nice brunch for us, and I ate the rest for lunch during the week. It reheated nicely, even in a microwave.

Pumpkin and Bacon Quiche

pie dough (store bought or homemade)
8 slices bacon
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt & pepper
3/4 pound pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Fit crust into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press a sheet of parchment paper or foil on dough, draping over rim of pan. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is firm and edges are slightly brown, about 35 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; bake until bottom is dry, 10 minutes more.

While crust is cooking, cook bacon over medium heat until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels, Add onion to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. top with pumpkin, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cream; season with salt and pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges., 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

Certainly not a spur of the moment recipe, but well worth the effort.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brie with Pumpkin Chutney

I loved the idea of this recipe the first time I read it. I had big plans to give it away with a piece of brie over the holidays to everyone I know, but I never have enough time to actually execute my big plans. But that doesn't mean you can't do it. It would make a wonderful gift.

This recipe for pumpkin chutney by Robin White and the Food Network was originally designed as a BBQ dish and shown on BBQ with Bobby Flay. But it doesn't need to be served on a shingle, it's just as good microwaved for 30 to 60 seconds or baked in the oven. All it needs is for the chutney to be warmed and the cheese to slightly melted.

The recipe doesn't call for it, but the pumpkin and the onion need to be diced. I substituted ground ginger for the fresh, apple butter for the apricot jam and red pepper flakes for both the red chili and dash of cayenne pepper.

I loved the final product, the Hub was ho hum about it, but it got rave reviews at work where it disappeared almost instantly. I think the picture accompanying the recipe is not attractive and actually mine looked nothing like that. When I make this again (and I will) I'm going to up the amount of red pepper flakes to give it a little more heat.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eleventh Day of Holiday Pumpkin Cookies, Susi's Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars

A charity advertising marathon at work yesterday is cutting into cookie time and we're going to stop at eleven. It shouldn't hinder anyone's holiday cheer, because I have some great breakfast/brunch recipes, a pumpkin cheesecake and a couple of gift ideas I want to get out before Christmas.

I realize that Susi's pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars were originally made for a once-a-year celebration, but with 3 sticks of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 4 cups of flour and 4 eggs packed into a 9 x 13 inch pan, that's really calorie dense for only 20 servings. My glass pan has rounded edges too; so if I made them again, I'd spread it out in a larger pan to produce thinner bars. Other than that, they taste great and look great too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tenth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Wedding Cakes

  My family calls these little balls Russian tea cakes, but Mexican wedding cakes is also universally accepted. I was hesitant about this recipe, which calls for adding pumpkin pie spice, because I thought the simplicity of the original is what attracted people to them. But these are good. I only made a half recipe, because (and I never thought I would be saying these words) we are a little cookied out around here. To get to 10 good recipes, we've had a few duds along the way. Not worth writing about, but not so bad we have to throw them away either. All the freezer containers are full, the freezer is full and still we have two more days of the twelve days of holiday pumpkin cookies. Guess there are worse problems to have.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ninth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Ginger Tassies

I have made tassies before with other fillings and suspected that we would love these mini pumpkin pies. And I was right. This recipe comes from a contributor to, but there are several variations out there. I substituted pumpkin pie spice for the fresh grated ginger. (I'm done with that stuff after the Test Kitchen pie.) This recipe only makes 24, which around here barely makes it to the next day, but they are easy so I'll probably make them again next week.

This cute plate with a cardinal on it was a gift from my mom.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eighth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Toffee Cookies

These cookies are for Kevin, who loves Health candy bars. They have a cup of Health bits in the batter. Pumpkin and toffee - what's not to like. They are easy to make, and we all liked them. Mine certainly took longer than the 8 to 10 minutes to cook listed in the recipe, but other than that, they were a breeze to make. The Hub and I made this batch on a weeknight.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seventh Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Caramels

This recipe from Food Network Kitchen seemed like a perfect addition to the pumpkin holiday trays and they do look cute in their waxed paper wrappers, but I doubt if I would ever make them again. They just don't taste like pumpkin, even though they contain 2/3 of a cup.

You cook the sugars together as you would for any candy; but after it reaches the firm ball stage, add the pumpkin and cook again without stirring to soft ball stage. This is where things get a little scary. The caramel turns very dark because the bottom layer is burning solidly to the pan. Remarkable the candy has no burn taste, but the pan appears ruined. I left mine to soak overnight with some dishwasher machine soap and the entire "burn layer" was floating on the top in the morning. (This is not mentioned in the recipe.)

After all this I actually like the caramels and can't resist popping them in my mouth at every opportunity.

Even though the recipe called for wrapping them individually in waxed paper, I didn't think it was necessary until Andrew came back from the kitchen reporting the caramels were gluing themselves to each other. Ok, ok - out came the waxed paper. Stored like this they don't stick and are easy on the fillings, too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sixth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Rugelach

According to Wikipedia, traditional rugelach is made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling, and that rugelach and the French croissant share a common Viennese ancestor, crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the lifting of the Turkish siege in 1793. The word is Yiddish and comes from Eastern Europe.

These pumpkin rugelach are a combination of Lindsey Cona's family recipe for the dough, a pumpkin butter replacing the traditional apricot jam, and toasted pecans. The idea isn't original, others on the Internet have made pumpkin rugelach, but this hobbled together recipe is all mine. I couldn't be happier with the results. The dough is flaky and the filling spicy. They look impressive on a cookie plate and taste as good as they look.

Pumpkin Rugelach
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

Cut cold butter and cream cheese into bits. In food processor, pulse ingredients until crumbly. Shape crumbly mixture into four equal balls, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

pecans, toasted and chopped

Combine ingredients except nuts in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool.

Assembling cookies:
1.  Flatten each ball into a round disk, keeping other balls chilled until ready to roll them. This dough is sticky, and I flattened mine between two pieces of wax paper sprayed with Pam. I talked to Lindsey about this step and you can use flour too.
2.  Spread disk with pumpkin mixture and then sprinkle with nuts. Press lightly into dough. Use a chef's knife or pizza cutter to cut each round into 12 wedges. I actually cut mine into 14 wedges.

3.  Roll wedges from wide to narrow, ending up with the point on the outside of the cookies. Place on ungreased baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes before baking.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5.  Bake chilled rugelach on the center rack of your oven for 22 minutes until lightly golden. (Mine took longer even though they were small, so I'd go by color rather than time.)
6.  Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight containers. They freeze well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fifth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Brittle

This brittle recipe from Sunset magazine is easy and the results are professional. My Grandma Spencer made peanut brittle every year and I have only recently started making it myself. It only looks difficult. The article with the recipe recommends testing your candy thermometer, since they are fragile and have a tendency to get thrown around in a drawer. So I did and mine was spot on.

Another thing to remember with candy is to use wooden spoons not rubber spatulas. The recipe has you pour it into a buttered jelly roll pan, but I dumped mine onto a butter marble slab designed for the purpose.

It firms up quickly and is easily broken in pieces.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fourth Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Pumpkin Pizzelles

It is believed that pizzelles originated in Italy in ancient times to mark an annual celebration. Initially baked over an open fire with relatively simple but effective irons, the early pizzelles were proudly embossed with the family crest or some hint of the village of origin. Over time it became tradition to use pizzelles to celebrate any holiday or festive occasion. The modern patterns found on these delicious waffle cookies most commonly are floral on one side and a woven basket-like pattern on the other.
I love the idea of pumpkin pizzelles and planned on using my krumkake iron, which makes a Scandinavian cookie very similar to a pizzelle. However, my 35-year-old iron needs a coil electric stove and I no longer own one. I needed a pizzelle maker. The Hub and I checked Target, Kohls and Walmart - no pizzelle maker. An online search of Sur la Table and Williams-Sonoma showed them as online sales only. Andrew went to Macy's, Penney's and finally found one at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Go figure.

The Cuisinart machine made making them a snap. The Hub set up an assembly line and the next time I turned around he had made dozens.

They taste great and will look festive on my holiday cookie trays. The only problem is finding a place for yet another kitchen gadget.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Third Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, White Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

This recipe is not for the perfectionist. The Hub and I wrestled with the coating for the good part of an hour and never got it to look pretty. I'm sure it was user error. Some skill in working with chocolate coating and candy is probably necessary for making these. It is just a more sophisticated recipe than some other pumpkin truffle recipes that I looked at. And I would go for smaller truffles rather than larger. As our chocolate cooled, our truffles got larger and larger. If you decide to make these, you'd be better off using her gorgeous picture as an example rather than ours. These are the good ones, you should see what the ugly ones looked like.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Second Day of Holiday Pumpkin Cookies, Pumpkin-Spice Bars

The Hub and I have been making this cookie for 35 years, mostly him. It's his favorite, and he'll whip up a batch three or four times a year just for the heck of it, but always at Christmas. Some years we make more than one batch. I don't remember where the original recipe came from; I picked it up somewhere and over the years, it became a keeper. It fills a medium jelly roll pan, and we cut them into 1 x 2 inch bars.

Pumpkin-Spice Bars

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15-16 oz) pumpkin
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Mix in raisins, if using. Pour batter into greased 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1 inch jelly roll pan. Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool; frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Mix 3 oz softened cream cheese, 6 tablespoons softened butter and 1 tsp vanilla. Gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Day of Pumpkin Holiday Cookies, Nanny's Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Penuche Frosting

I'm a big baker of Christmas cookies. I love making them and eating them and so does the Hub. Every member of my family has their favorites so it's not unusual for me to make a dozen different kinds, usually in November. Then starting the first of December, I fill a plate with cookies from the freezer before dinner and we have them for dessert every single night in December. Not a lot, just a few. I also give lots of cookies away.

This is the first day of the twelve days of pumpkin cookies. I have about 35 different pumpkin cookie recipes, so not all will make the cut. They need to be different, such as old Christmas favorites with a pumpkin twist or something totally off the charts. My mother was laughing so hard when I was telling her about pumpkin spritz and pumpkin Russian teacakes. And it will be interesting to see if my own family will give up their beloved almond roca bars and chocolate crinkles for pumpkin roca bars and pumpkin crinkles.

I'm not exactly sure whose Nanny came up with these cookies, but they are worthy of our first day of pumpkin holiday cookies. They look kind of plain, but are so good. Light and a little crisp around the edges with a frosting that complements them perfectly.

As I always do, I toasted the pecans before chopping and adding to the batter. I could barely snag any of these for the freezer. They were going fast even before I frosted them. Don't worry Kevin, I am saving a few for you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ziti with Pumpkin: Zit alla Zucca

This pasta dish is from Mario Batali and the Food Network. I was a little confused about his 1 pound pumpkin, cut into julienne. Does that mean a 1-pound pumpkin, which would give you about 12 ounces of pumpkin flesh julienned, or does it mean 1 pound of pumpkin from a larger pumpkin, julienned? I cut it in the middle and ended up using 14 ounces. Next time I would use twice that much. At one point, julienning a pumpkin would have taken me a while, but I'm getting to be an expert at all things pumpkin including cutting one up. It's a great recipe and the only complaint I heard was that it could have used more pumpkin.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Dutch Baby

According to Sunset magazine, Dutch babies were introduced in the first half of the 1900s at Manca's Cafe, a family-run restaurant in Seattle owned by Victor Manca. While these pancakes are derived from the German pancake dish, it is said that the name Dutch baby was coined by one of Victor Manca's daughters. In 1942, Manca's Cafe owned the trademark for Dutch babies, although the cafe later closed in the 1950s.

This pumpkin Dutch baby recipe comes from the website Baking Bites. I've been making traditional Dutch babies for weekend breakfasts for years and always put the ingredients in the blender and did for the recipe too. The eggs need to be whipped until frothy and then add the rest of the ingredients. This one did not puff up as much as traditional ones do, probably because of the weight of the pumpkin puree. Andrew, Karen, the Hub and I acted as taste testers, and everyone like the recipe.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hokie Tailgating, Pumpkin Style

Andrew and his girlfriend Karen were meeting up with some long-time friends to watch the Virginia Tech - Miami football game, and wanted to take some traditional tailgating food that would also incorporate pumpkin. Hokie colors are Chicago maroon and burnt orange, so pumpkin food is really showing their colors. We decided on a menu of pumpkin nachos, pumpkin hummus and pumpkin pie shooters. It was kind of a spur of the moment idea and came together amazingly quickly and easily.

We looked at several pumpkin nachos recipes, but decided to make up one with what we had in the house. I tossed diced pumpkin with cumin, salt, pepper, oil and a pinch of cayenne and then roasted it. They layered it on chips with cooked crumbled chorizo, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, green onions and avocado and baked it in the oven.

For the drinks, we used a professional recipe rather than the Baileys, Kahlua and cinnamon schnapps recipe that was everywhere on the web. It calls for a cooked pumpkin syrup for the base, and then add liquor and cream.

The pumpkin hummus recipe was given in the blog in November. After we packed it up, they left for Brian and Sara's house and the game and the rest of this blog belongs to them.

A - The nachos above were the finished project. While the pumpkin was a great addition, the stars of the show were the chorizo and the cheese. Both added spice in addition to depth and texture. As well as being delicious, the nachos turned out visually impressive and presented well from the baking tray. Find a more pretentious description of nachos on the internet and I will be impressed. 

K - It's nice that we begin our recounting of the night with a bit of class as things will quickly digress from here...

K - The hummus turned out great as well. Smooth and flavorful with just the right amount of pumpkin.

A - I prefer a savory hummus and the pumpkin still remained a pleasant addition. Now on to the good stuff...

A - Shown here are the four main culprits. The syrup was easy to prepare and really added a lot to the drink. We chose vanilla vodka and it mixed together perfectly.

K - Using light whipped cream and half and half instead of full cream did nothing to negatively affect the taste of the shot. They tasted great, perhaps in the case of a few individuals, a little too great...

A - Look innocent, don't they? We thought so too after the first 5 or 6. Brian's head cleaning up spills in the background should provide some clues otherwise (sorry Sara, it was Karen, not me). Here's a tip when preparing the shots: don't try to layer - the syrup and the cream are too thin. Instead mix the syrup, cream and vodka together, pour and add the whipped cream on top.

K - It was Andy.

K - The boys look great. Full of nachos and ready to cheer on the Hokies and dive into their first (and certainly not last) pumpkin pie shot of the night. I remained dilligent in my duties as head chef, photographer and ultimately...designated driver.

A - Wide eyed and full of wonderment. Would the Hokies crush Miami? Yes, yes they would. Were there any nachos left? No, no there weren't. Two trays were demolished within minutes save for a pittance of crumbs Brian was able to wrestle from the mongrels for poor Sara, still at work. Would I later lose my voice playing Rock Band 3. Maybe some questions are better left unanswered.

A - My two favorite things about fall are pumpkins and football. Throw in friends, nachos, booze and hokie beatdowns and you have a winning combination for a great night. Thanks to Jo for all her help in preparation and thanks to my friends for being such willing guinea pigs.

K - A great night with great friends. Can't wait to do it again soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffing

This pumpkin stuffing recipe is courtesy of Dean Fearing, Mansion at Turtle Creek, which according to their website is long hailed as Dallas's best restaurant for fine dining. I like the idea of fresh herbs instead of dry. I  diced the pumpkin and then roasted it because I think it holds its shape better and doesn't get mushy. The Hub went off with this to his office Thanksgiving luncheon, so I didn't really get to taste it. It was almost gone before he got through the line, but he said everyone like it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

This recipe comes the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I made mine in this blue jarrahdale pumpkin. It is amazingly good.

You clean it out like you would start a jack-o-lantern.

Add the filling. The only change I made was that I used a combination of Gruyere and Emmental cheeses. Then bake it.

As you can see the flesh of this pumpkin was a good two inches thick and took over two hours to cook. I checked it by sticking a wooden skewer in the side, and left the pumpkin in until there was no resistance on the skewer.

You take the lid off for the last 20 minutes to let it brown. To serve we just scooped the filling out with part of the pumpkin. You can also slice it into wedges.Yum. I ate it for lunch all week.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting

I wanted to make this cake in order to provide an impressive Thanksgiving alternative to pie for those who like cake better. But when I was studying the recipe before making it, I found a really disturbing fact: This cake contains 750 calories (52% from fat), 44 g of fat (26.5 saturated) 175 mg cholesterol, 83 g of carbohydrates, 59 g sugar and on the good side 2 g of fiber and 7.7 g of protein per slice. Who in good conscience could eat this or serve it? I was trying to get an idea of what this compares to. Was I being naive, do all great desserts have that much junk in them? A small Reese's Peanut Butter Cup blizzard (and who eats a small?) is 600. And a piece of red velvet Cheesecake Factory cheesecake is 817. So apparently it's not the worst thing you could eat, but still I couldn't do it - I made half a cake. Instead of four layers, my cake has two layers and half the frosting.

Here's the Hub putting the batter together while I got the pans ready.

This cake uses one teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder (my half cake only had 1/2 teaspoon) for seasoning. Chinese five-spice contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves, ginger, licorice, szechuan peppercorn and white pepper. Hmm is it me or was anyone else thinking this really should be called Chinese eight-spice? It's an interesting combination in a cake, but for those who don't like star anise, not to mention licorice, even 1/2 teaspoon is too much. The frosting is excellent with its hint of orange. I used fresh orange zest and toasted pecans instead of walnuts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Tart Tatin

This recipe from the LA Times looks way better in their picture than in mine. I'm getting better with the pictures, but still have a long way to go. It didn't help that my tatin was just plain ugly to begin with. I made this on a weeknight (not something I would recommend) and we ate it as a side dish with pork tenderloin. It's hard for me to justify to myself the calories involved. I tell myself that it's for all of you that I eat this stuff.

The only change I made to the recipe was to use prepared pie crust instead of the recipe given for the crust.

It was really good warm that night and cold the next day. If I made it again in would be for a buffet or as a heavy hors d'oueve and serve it at room temperature. That way people would be cutting small pieces and mixing it with other less calorie heavy foods.