Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna with Four Cheeses

I recently took a cooking class at Sur la Table with my daughter. Two of the recipes were so good, we went home and made them again for everyone that night for dinner. One was this rich and delicious lasagna. Since we were leaving the next day on a trip, we froze the leftovers for dinners for the Hub and me. About once a month I get out one of the packages of leftovers and I remember all over how good this recipe is.

Roger is a happy sous chef


Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna with Four Cheeses
Courtesy of Sur la Table, adapted slightly

2 1/2 pounds diced pumpkin
Salt & pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 10-oz packages frozen spinach

2 cups ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
Black pepper

1 10-oz package lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and blotted dry
2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Dice pumpkin and toss with salt, pepper and olive oil. Cook on top of the stove 20 minutes or so until cubes are soft. Set aside.

To prepare bechamel sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour, stir with a flat whisk until the mixture is smooth, and then continue to cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Gradually add the milk and half & half while whisking constantly until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking gently, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and nutmeg. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the spinach and 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few generous grindings of pepper. Stir with a sauce whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a rack in the center. generously butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add a ladleful of the bechamel to the prepared dish, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Arrange 1/3 of the noodles side by side or slightly overlapping if they are wide, on the bottom of the dish. Spoon about half of the ricotta mixture on top and spread evenly. Top with half of the diced pumpkin, arranging them in a single layer. Sprinkle the pumpkin with salt and pepper, dust lightly with nutmeg, and scatter 1/4 cup of Fontina and Gorgonzola cheeses evenly over the top. Add the spinach mixture by well-spaced spoonfuls and then spread in an even layer. Arrange another 1/3 noodles on top.

Spoon the remaining ricotta mixture on top and spread in an even layer. Top with remaining pumpkin in a single layer. Sprinkle the pumpkin with salt and pepper and scatter 1/4 cup of Fontina and Gorgonzola cheeses over the top. Arrange the remaining noodles on top. Pour the remaining bechamel sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining Fontina and Gorgonzola cheeses.

Bake until the top is browned and bubbly, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pumpkin Football Cakes

 This recipe came from the October 1012 Better Homes and Gardens. Even though I have a hard copy of it, BH&G won't let you just go to their website and get it. I understand their reasoning, but it just means I have to type it in. (Luckily someone else had already done that and I could just copy and paste.) I thought these would be perfect for this weekend's big game.

It calls for an egg-shaped pan. When I went to find one, I found out there is actually a football-shaped cupcake pan, so I ordered that. But the egg appears to work better. The football pan has the laces on the bottom instead of the domed top, so you don't get to see them. The recipe calls for splitting them and adding frosting, which I thought was unnecessary. The recipe is a nice moist cupcake with plenty of sugar without the frosting. But here is a warning: If you do frost these wait right before serving. The pumpkin makes these so moist that the frosting almost immediately dissolves.

Pumpkin Football Cakes
Prep: 30 min
Bake: 20 min
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease twelve 5-ounce egg-shaped muffin cups; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. In a large bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vegetable oil; whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, one-third at a time, stirring just until combined after each addition. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling each about half full*.

3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack. Split cakes horizontally. If necessary, trim tops of cakes so they will sit flat when inverted.

4. For Buttercream Frosting, in a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining powder sugar to reach desired consistency.

5. Spread frosting over one cake half; top with remaining half. Pipe “laces” on top. Repeat with remaining cakes. Makes 12 cakes.

6. *Use any remaining batter to make cupcakes. Line 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. Fill two-thirds full with batter. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from the November 1012 issue of Southern Living. It's a good pie for Thanksiving. It doesn't take up any oven room on the day of and has to be made 10 to 24 hours in advance. The crust is crushed cinnamon graham crackers, pecans, crushed gingersnaps and butter, then coated with melted milk chocolate, then sprinkled with crushed Heath bars. Really good and a dessert in itself. The filling is pumpkin pudding, which is kind of bland and I think I'd add some pumpkin spices to it next time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Orange-Dijon Roasted Pumpkin

This recipe is from the November 1012 Good Housekeeping. It calls for acorn squash, which I switched out with pumpkin. I haven't seen a Good Housekeeping for a while and was impressed with the recipes in the November issue. Not only do they give you the nutritional info, but they list the time and give instructions to increase the recipe from six servings to 12 and to 20. Both the Hub and I enjoyed this side dish. I diced the leftovers and added it to salads. My only complaint is that now I have a jar of orange marmalade that I know no one is going to eat any time soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pumpkin Moussakas

I loved this recipe from the blog Amatour Cook Professional Eater. It was slightly adapted from a recipe of Nikos Boukis, from the Greek cooking magazine " Umami." And I adapted it some more. I switched out the turkey and ground beef for crumbles and deleted the chestnuts. It calls for two tomatoes, grated. This must be a European thing because I've never heard of grating a tomato. I used canned, diced tomatoes, which I cut up even smaller and it worked fine.

The recipe layers slightly roasted sliced pumpkin, which I sliced with a mandoline, with the meat/vegetable mixture and then bechamel on top. YUM! I halved the recipe, which made one dinner for two and two lunches for one.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Donuts

This recipe came from the website Although it is a gluten-free recipe, I used regular flour. I had a lot of trouble getting the cinnamon sugar to stick to the baked donuts and ended up just drizzling a little glaze over the top. The donuts have a nice blend of ingredients that allow them to be sweet, yet contain almost 10 grams of protein. I thought they were a little dry for a pumpkin baked good, but I may have overcooked them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

I made these as a going-away present for some neighbors, brave souls who put their house on the market, sold it two weeks later and moved, all in the month of December. The recipe came from the website and are actually an advertisement for Reynolds parchment baking paper. The cookies come out soft little pillows with cinnamon chips scattered throughout. They contain vegetable shortening, which is an ingredient I usually avoid, but is probably what gives them their texture, too. Both the Hub and I liked these cookies and, because it makes so many, I froze two dozen for a special occasion, which appears to be every morning before I go to work when I get ice, see them in there and feel the need to eat a cold cookie. lol

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baked Barley Casserole w/ Mushroom & Pumpkin

This recipe from the website Clean Eating is the kind of thing the Hub likes once and not very often. Some recipes just work too hard at being healthy, sacrificing flavor. We both liked it straight from the oven, although I forgot the goat cheese and pumpkin seed toppings. I substituted green onions for the leeks and dried herbs for the fresh. I ate the leftovers for lunches and it was nice to have a warm casserole in winter, but I doubt I would make it again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Pumpkin & Thyme

This easy, but impressive vegetable medley recipe is from the December 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living. They used butternut squash, which I switched out with pumpkin. I also used dried thyme. They suggest this as a side at Thanksgiving, which is nice, but would take some planning with one oven and a turkey. The vegetables roast for 45 minutes (although mine didn't take that long) at 450 degrees. My store brand canned artichoke hearts were amazingly tasty. Both the Hub and I thoroughly enjoyed this side dish, it was easy to reheat and I plan on making it again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Three Types of Frosting

In November we had a family contest to come up with the best frosting for pumpkin cupcakes. I made two types of pumpkin cupcakes using this recipe and this recipe, both of which are adaptations of  a recipe by David Leite. I'll have to see if I can find the original because both of these were just ok. Although there was a general lack of interest because we had other desserts and had just finished a big lunch.

The three types of frostings were maple bacon, submitted by Karen and Andrew, cinnamon cream cheese, submitted by Robin and Roger and salted caramel, submitted by me and the Hub. As with almost every contest I've put on this blog, we had no real winner. It was a matter of personal taste and they all differed. All the types got some votes. I'm not giving the exact recipes we used because there was a lot of last minute tampering going on with them. (And I don't have them:) ) But you can get the general idea and all three complemented the pumpkin cupcakes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pumpkin, Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

This recipe comes from website the guide to property, holidays and life in France. This particular recipe comes from the Lot and Quercy (regions of France) section. Here's what it has to say about pumpkins: "In the colourful markets of France, the October stalls are awash with vast orange globes. Old ladies brandish fearful looking knives as they slice off precisely the amount you require - and woe betide your fingers if you don’t stand back. It’s a phenomenally popular vegetable here and rightly so." They are comparing it to other places where you have to buy the whole pumpkin, and feel cooks don't us it as much as they should when you have to buy so much more than you need. They have a point. It would be much easier to chop up or just roast a slice rather than having to tackle an entire pumpkin. I liked this soup because I like all the ingredients separately. The Hub doesn't like tomatoes or red peppers, so passed on the soup after the first bowl. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Chiles Rellenos in Pumpkin Sauce

I made this recipe from the website I bought the poblanos late in the season at the farmer's market and wasn't sure about their heat, which can really vary. So I decided to freeze them and give them to Kevin. (He ate a package of habanero potato chips at Christmas so I knew he could take anything these mild peppers had.) He reported back that they tasted great and weren't hot at all so I would definitely try them again. Buen provecho! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

I'm back! Sorry it's been so long but I was having some issues with the pictures (way too big apparently) and had to wait for Kevin to come home at Christmas and help me. He's so smart about things like this. I am slowly reducing the size of the pictures on the blog to make room for some more. We'll see how long we can go before the blog people tell me again to buy some room. I was only going to do this for a year, hence the name of the blog, but have been at it for 2 1/2. I still have lots of recipes to try and more are developed each fall.

I got this sugar scrub from Karen and Andrew for Christmas. They made it from the recipe on the website I have been using it on my hands, feet and legs and really like it. Even keeps my especially dry feet looking sharp.