Monday, January 31, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

In the five-year anniversary issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, it lists some of the favorite recipes over the years in each category, and two of the desserts are pumpkin: whoopie pies and cupcakes. I made these pumpkin whoopie pies in Arizona where they disappeared in short order (less than 24 hours), some with frosting, some without. They were good, but the best in five years, I don't know about that. I think it may have gotten the nod because the recipe is fun and something different. Pumpkin whoopie pie recipes are all over the Internet, so she may have been the first with lots and lots of imitators.

The recipe only makes 12 cookies so I made them very small since it is actually two cookies with a cream cheese frosting center.

The upgraded photography in the Arizona blogs is thanks to Robin. A better photographer with a better camera and I cannot say it enough - a state with much better weather in January than Virginia.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

These bar cookies from Martha Stewart are fairly easy to make. The Hub put this batch together, only needing some help with the swirling. I didn't love them, although that didn't stop me from eating my fair share of them. They sounded great - I love chocolate and I love pumpkin, so why wouldn't I love these bars. I just felt the pumpkin flavor got lost competing with the chocolate and even the cream cheese. Maybe it was just too soon after the wonderful pumpkin cheesecake we had around Christmas.

We had five taste testers there that day and no one else complained and the bars disappeared in short order.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pumpkin Sausage Sauce with Pasta

I'm back. I've been in Arizona warming up, and coming back to 9 degrees yesterday morning was a shock. The pumpkins in the garage are not looking well. Most are starting to spot, so I'll be freezing them soon. Pasta recipes such as this one can easily use frozen pumpkin.

This pasta recipe is great. There was some confusion with the Hub over the grocery list and we ended up using breakfast sausage links instead of bulk sausage and 12 oz instead of a pound. I would actually recommend this. The sausage slices looked like little meatballs. The pasta reheated well for lunches the next day.

I think this recipe could be very versatile; you could change the ingredients to whatever you prefer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winners of the Discovery Channel Cookbooks

We have two winners of the Discovery Channel cookbooks. Maddie pulled the names out of a basket for me. Congratulations, they will be in the mail to you shortly.

Eimear of Enniscorthy, Ireland 

And Katie in Towson, Maryland

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pumpkin Duds

I never imagined when I started this, how many of the recipes I tried would be losers. So far I have just set these not-well-thought-out ones aside thinking I might use them during a slow period. I'm pretty careful now, checking for comments from others and studying the recipe before I try making them. It's discouraging, not to mention a waste of expensive ingredients. Here's a list of pumpkin dishes I would skip.

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil & Goat Cheese Salad
When I read this recipe, I thought it was perfect for Beth, who as an arugula-loving vegetarian, would appreciate the healthy aspects of the salad. She was enthusiastic about trying it.

She followed the directions exactly, but found the pumpkin mushy and not browned after 30 minutes at 375, which I think is too low a temperature to brown anything. Without the pumpkin keeping its shape everything tended to mush when being tossed. Both Beth and her husband Ken also found the salad bland. I read all the comments about this salad on Epicurious and most of the readers who like it altered the recipe in some way substituting other ingredients.

A Tale of Two Biscuits
The first biscuits I made I used this recipe from Family Fun magazine. No one in the family would be having fun trying to eat these and the picture is sooo not this recipe. I threw out my baking powder and got some new and tried again after researching biscuits in general and pumpkin biscuits in particular. Pumpkin is heavy and takes some real power in the form of baking powder to make biscuits rise. I went back to the Family Fun page and read the comments where everyone comments on the typo in the baking power and what should have been 1 tablespoon reads 1 teaspoon. I guess it was common knowledge to everyone except me.

I tried again with my new baking powder and this recipe from Country Living magazine. These are served as little sandwiches with smoked ham and pumpkin mustard. I thought it would be perfect with the pumpkin soup I had made. While these rose high and smelled nice, my taste testers (my mom and the Hub) were not impressed. I don't know why. They didn't like the soup either, so I won't even bore you with that recipe. I liked them and took one for lunch until they were gone.

Sweet and Sour Pumpkin: Zucca Gialla in Agrodolce
This recipe comes courtesy of Mario Batali and the Food Network. It's a pretty straight forward side dish using pumpkin. You start by cutting a pumpkin into wedges and he is very descriptive (the length of your hand from fingertip to wrist) about the length of the wedges, but says nothing about the thickness of the wedges. Also he wants you to leave the rind on. Why Mario why? The people eating it then have to cut it off later. I cut my wedges about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and peeled them. They did not cook in the recommended 8 minutes. It was at least twice that.

I had this for dinner one Saturday night. I found the basil and mint distracting, and the pumpkin just OK.

Pumpkin Sage Gravy
This recipe from Tyler Florence and the Food Network just didn't work for me. It contains a pound and a half of bacon that you dice, fry and then strain out - leaving what in the gravy? The fat? And what do you do with the bacon? Throw it away? I put it in the food processor and used some of it to thicken the gravy, but all of this seemed so unnecessary. I think there is a great pumpkin gravy recipe out there, this just isn't it.

It tasted good, but the pumpkin was lost.

Pumpkin Puff
I thought this would be a wonderful souffle-like side dish, didn't turn out that way. The ingredients are eggs and pumpkin. Both pretty bland and the final product tasted more like eggs than pumpkin. My pound and a half of pumpkin after cooking and being put through a potato ricer was practically nothing. Even though the author suggested at the end that you could add other ingredients, a recipe should stand on its own, at least the first time you make it. And the picture accompanying the recipe has a lot of something green in it. What's up with that? I hope to rewrite this recipe using more ingredients and determining the amount of pumpkin needed after cooking and mashing for a better pumpkin to egg ratio.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pumpkin Quesadillas

Our pumpkin quesadillas started out with a recipe I found online, but soon became "customized" to individual likes and dislikes and what ingredients we had in the house. I use a quesadilla maker ( inherited it from some kid's college days), but you can just as easily make these in a pan. I diced the pumpkin, tossed it with salt, pepper and chipolte chili powder and roasted it for 15 minutes. I set it out in a bowl with other bowls of refried beans, black beans, chopped green onions, jalapenos, cheese and salsa. Other options could include tomatoes, black olives, avocado and just about anything you can think of. People made their own according to their own preferences.

Similar to pumpkin nachos found in Hokie Tailgating, there is no right or wrong way to make these. Just add your favorites, cook until the cheese melts and filling is warm, and it's done.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Before we get to the tiramisu, here are some updates:

1.  The pumpkins in the garage are starting to show their age. Some are up to four months old, and are deteriorating in different ways. The whites and French reds start with small spots that spread slowly. The fairy tale turn to mush on the inside without a lot of visible change on the outside. The sugar look normal on the outside, but are hard as rocks and dehydrated on the inside.

Some of this could be due to the way they are stored. The temperature is lower than it should be, but it's been 27 degrees every morning when I wake up for as long as I can remember. They should be sitting in little hay nests and not touching anything. hmm well without hay and long ago running out of room in that dinky garage, they are sort of piled up touching lots of stuff. I will probably be out of fresh pumpkin in less than a month.

2.  The contest for the Discovery cookbooks continues this week. Your chances of winning are pretty good, so send me an email with the name of your favorite pumpkin food, mine or otherwise, to

I made this tiramisu from Better Homes and Gardens magazine over New Years for Kevin who loves the stuff. He managed to eat pretty much the whole thing even though a wicked sore throat was slowing him down. The rest of us thought it was just OK.

And let me tell you something, lining a deep loaf pan with plastic wrap is a lot harder than it sounds. After 10 minutes I gave up and used foil. I also added an extra layer; it just seemed squatty and I had extras of the ingredients.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pumpkin & Gorgonzola Galette

In September while wandering around the charming small town of Occoquan, Virginia, my mom really needed a break so I found her a comfy chair in a darling bookstore that sells only cookbooks called Salt & Pepper. Mom rested while my sisters and I poked around intent on buying something to show our appreciation of the hospitality. I found a book called Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel. This cookbook was the inspiration for this entire blog. I was really pumped to start cooking with pumpkin and someone suggested I write a blog about it. And it snowballed from there...

I intended to make every one of DeeDee's yummy sounding recipes starting at the front and working my way through. But other pumpkin cookbooks were located, and the internet, with its archives of magazine recipes, produced hundreds of recipes to try. At last count I have a backlog of 550 recipes using pumpkin.

This light lunch or heavy hors d'oeuvres recipe is adapted from DeeDee's Blue Cheese and Pumpkin Galette recipe. I changed it for three reasons: 1. I find it easier to dice pumpkin, toss it with seasoning and then roast. Less chance of ending up with mush, 2. I had some leftover Gorgonzola to use up, and 3. I like to use already made pie crusts.

Pumpkin & Gorgonzola Galette

1 1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, diced small
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced shallots (1 large)
1 tsp crumbled dried sage
salt & pepper
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 homemade or already made 15-inch pastry crust
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (3-4 oz)
1 egg white
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss diced pumpkin with salt, pepper and sage. Roast on baking sheet for 15 minutes. Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallots in the butter for about 2 minutes, then add roasted pumpkin and heat for 1 minute.

In a medium skillet, melt another 1/2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Stir in nuts and breadcrumbs and cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to brown.

To assemble galette, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully place the dough circle on it. (If using already made pie crusts, this will require you to stretch or roll out the crust to 15 inches.) Sprinkle the nut/crumb mixture in the center of the crust, leaving an edge of about 2 inches. Arrange pumpkin/shallots mixture over the crumbs and scatter the Gorgonzola on top.

Fold the edges of the dough over the filling. Brush the dough with egg white and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned. Slide slightly cooled galette onto a cutting board or serving platter before cutting into slices.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pumpkin Milkshakes

This is the second time we have made these pumpkin milkshakes from the blog A Spicy Perspective. The first time following the directions carefully and the second time just tossing in the unmeasured ingredients (heavy on the ice cream) because we wanted to make a pitcher rather than a single milkshake. Both turned out great. We didn't make the pumpkin java milkshake, but liked both the banana-pumpkin and the gingersnap-pumpkin flavors.

You'd think since we've made them twice we would have remembered to take a picture at least one of the times, but we didn't. So being the professional food blog this is, here's a picture of my dogs instead.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Torched Pumpkin Strips

This is another recipe from Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network, and was originally published in his cookbook, New New Orleans Cooking. It is very similar to the pumpkin tempura (also by Emeril) except with a beer batter crust and savory Asian type dipping sauce. This dish got mixed reviews from the five of us on a day we tested many pumpkin recipes. Everyone loved the dipping sauce, which would be great with egg rolls or dumplings (that part of the recipe is definitely a keeper). I loved the pumpkin part too; everyone else said it was just ok. This could be due to pumpkin overload or that I just like bad-for-me deep fried food. The Creole seasoning gets lost in the batter, so the dipping sauce takes over in the flavor department. I would combine the pumpkin tempura (minus the sugar) and the dipping sauce for the perfect dish.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Giveaway

I have two Discovery cookbooks; given to me for working on the project. They contain 100 recipes sent in by employees worldwide and are only sold within the company as a fundraiser. If you would like one of these cookbooks, email me at with the name of your favorite pumpkin recipe and I'll throw your name in the hat. I'll leave it open for two weeks and give you reminders every once in a while.