This time of the year brilliant orange pumpkins dot the scenery, food stores and farm stands. There are various colors for pumpkins, or squash, these days: black, dark green, white, yellow, and the most favored, bright orange. This vegetable is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The color makes it a wonderful source of carotene.

Pumpkin can be enjoyed all year long, and really should be included in the diet during the year. There are hundreds of recipes for pumpkin. Just steaming pieces of it, or baking or microwaving them is a simple way to prepare pumpkin. This can be mashed and used as a side dish with some butter and cinnamon with a little Parmesan cheese.

A pumpkin smoothie is one of my favorites, mixing together skim milk or almond milk, yogurt, vanilla, ground Chinese five-Spice or cinnamon, and mashed pumpkin. To make it a dessert drink just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

To make pumpkin ice cream, soften a quart of vanilla ice cream and add some ground cinnamon and ½ cup of mashed pumpkin, mix well, then freeze. Add some drained, rum marinated dark raisins for an added treat.

Green hulled pumpkin seeds are called pepitas and go well in so many recipes like salads, trail mixes, snacks, or just plain. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a simple task and they can be placed in jars for future use after they’re cooked.

Decorate your pumpkin with tapes, ribbons, colorful paper, magic markers, paint, or other external features, this way you can preserve the fresh pumpkin for cooking use.

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Puree

Try this in your next pumpkin pie and notice the difference.

1 3 ½ - pound sugar or cheese pumpkin, halved seeds and strings removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet roast pumpkin halves, cut side down, for about an hour, until soft. Spoon out cooked flesh and puree in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a cheesecloth lined colander set over a bowl, squeezing puree to drain. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours, transfer, to on airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months.

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes 2 cups of seeds.

2 cups pumpkin seeds with pulp

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt, to taste

Cinnamon or Chinese Five-Spice, if desired

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a bowl toss together pumpkin seeds, olive oil, salt, and cinnamon, if desired.

Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake stirring occasionally until seeds are crisp and pulp is caramelized, about 55-60 minutes. Let cool completely.

 

Creamy Pumpkin and Apple Soup

4 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cubed into ½ pieces

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

½ teaspoon Chinese Five –Spice or ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sweet onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped then smashed

Pinch of salt

2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

¼ cup apple cider or Apple Schnapps

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally; add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add pumpkin and apple cubes, Chinese Five-Spice, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broth; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low; simmer for 20 minutes or until pumpkin and apples are tender.

Place pumpkin mixture in batches in a blender and blend until smooth.

Place soup in a large bowl, and repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Pour puree back into saucepan; add apple cider or Schnapps, and wine; reheat soup until hot, add cream, stir and cook for another 5-8 minutes until heated through.

Serve hot and top with Chinese Five-Spice, if desired.

 

Roasted Pumpkin side Dish

Soups and pasta dishes may be made from this side dish.

2

pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled and seeded

2

tablespoons olive oil

pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice or ground cinnamon, if desired (Optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Quarter and then carefully peel and seed the pumpkin.

Cut into chunky 2-inch cubes.

Place pumpkin into a large and sturdy rimmed roasting tray.

Add the olive oil, salt and pepper - mix well, making sure that all the pumpkin pieces are coated in olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and also tinged brown at the edges.

Serve with a main meal as the vegetable dish or freeze for future savoury pumpkin recipes

 

Pumpkin-Ginger Bread

Makes 2 loaves of bread. A delicious bread which may be served also as a cake. This may also be made in a tube pan and glazed. The bread may be frozen and given as hostess gifts.

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup brown sugar

 

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon molasses

 

4 large eggs, room temperature

 

2/3 cup water

 

1 15- ounce can pumpkin puree

 

 

2 teaspoons ground ginger

 

2 teaspoons Chinese five-Spice or 1- teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon

 

 

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 

2 teaspoons baking soda

 

 

1/2 teaspoons salt

 

 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, and Chinese five-Spice.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1- hour.

 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This is an easy recipe made with crescent rolls but may also be made with 2-pre- made piecrusts.

2 8-ounce cans crescent rolls, divided

1 ½ 8-ounce packages (12 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided

¾ cup canned pumpkin puree

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons Chinese five-Spice or ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk or Peach Schnapps or bourbon

toasted coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Open one can of crescent rolls and place in a greased 13 x 9 –inch baking pan. Press to completely cover bottom of pan.

With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and ½ cup sugar in a bowl until blended. Add pumpkin; mix well. Add, egg, Chinese Five-Spice, and vanilla, beat until just blended. Spread onto crust to within ¼-inch of edges.

Unroll second package of crescent rolls; place evenly over pumpkin mixture. Cut a couple of vents on top pastry.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a good brown. Cool for 20 minutes.

In a bowl mix together ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and milk; add more sugar for desired consistency. Drizzle over coffee cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes, if desired.

 

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 29-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons Chinese Five-Spice or ground cinnamon

1 18-ounce supreme yellow cake mix

¾ cup butter, malted

1 cup dark raisins, soaked in ¼ cup rum then drained (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and Chinese Five-Spice until well blended. Spread pumpkin mixture in prepared baking dish. This mixture will be very wet.

Sprinkle cake mix evenly over top of batter. If adding raisins, sprinkle them over the cake mix. Pour melted butter over the top of the cake mix. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.