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 and minerals, and antioxidants. The color makes it a wonderful source of carotene.

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 and 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, yogurt, vanilla, ground 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 feature, this way you can preserve the fresh pumpkin for cooking use.



Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

3        cups pumpkin seeds, strings removed

2        teaspoons melted butter or canola oil

Kosher salt or cinnamon/sugar

Remove any strings attached to pumpkin seeds and dry seeds on paper towels. Toss with vegetable oil or melted butter.

Spread prepared pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet(s) and bake in a 250 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until toasty and fragrant. Sprinkle with a little Kosher salt or ground cinnamon and sugar.

Sprinkling with Parmesan grated cheese makes a tasty snack.


Pumpkin Pie Dip

1        8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

2        cups powdered sugar

1        15-ounce can pumpkin pie filling

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground ginger

In a bowl beat , with an electric mixer, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger and beat well. Cover and chill.

Serve with Granny Smith apple slices, sliced pears, celery sticks, and/or ginger snap cookies.


Pumpkin Soup

2        cups canned pumpkin

1        large sweet onion, finely chopped

2        tablespoons butter

3        cups chicken broth

2        tablespoons brown sugar

3        bay leaves

¼       cup dry white wine (Optional)

1        cup whipping cream or evaporated milk

¼       teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fresh ground black pepper, if desired

1        cup finely diced cooked smoked ham, or crispy bacon, crumbled

2        teaspoons canola oil

In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté onion in butter until tender, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, pumpkin, brown sugar, bay leaves, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stir in white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard. Stir in whipping cream and cinnamon. Cool slightly for about 20 minutes.

Blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return all soup to Dutch oven and heat through.

In a skillet sauté diced ham in canola oil over medium heat until just crispy. Drain off oil and pat ham with paper towels. Sprinkle crisp ham or bacon over top of soup when ready to serve. Garnish with black pepper if desired.


Pumpkin-Carrot Muffins

Makes 12.

1 ½    cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

1        teaspoon baking soda

½       teaspoon baking powder

1        large egg, room temperature

1        cup canned pumpkin

2/3     cup honey

2        tablespoons applesauce

1        tablespoon canola oil

1        cup shredded carrots

½       cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.

In another bowl whisk together egg, pumpkin, honey, applesauce, and oil until smooth. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the carrots and raisins. Spoon into cups of muffin pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Place on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack.


Pumpkin Bread with Rum Raisins

Makes 2 loaves.

¼       cup rum

1        cup dark raisins

2 ½    cups canned pumpkin

4        large eggs, room temperature

½       cup canola oil

2/3     cup water

3 ½    cups all-purpose flour

2 ½    cups granulated sugar

2        teaspoons baking soda

Pinch of salt

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

Soak raisins in rum in a bowl for about 20-30 minutes. Stir raisins and rum into batter before pouring into prepared loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2- 9 x 5 –inch loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl beat together pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring until blended. Add raisins and rum, mix in. Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely or wire rack. Tastes better the next day. May be frozen, if desired.


Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Serves 6.

1        pound spiral pasta

1 ½    cups broccoli florets

8        ounces sweet Italian sausage links, remove casing

1/2     teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼       teaspoon ground nutmeg, if desired

1 ¼    cups half-and-half or cream, more if needed

1        15-ounce can cooked pumpkin

2        tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch of salt

Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli 3-minutes before pasta will be done. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.

Saute Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a fork, until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Drain fat.

In skillet stir in pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired, and cook for 1-minute. Stir in half-and-half, sugar, and salt. Heat mixture to boiling and cook for 2-minutes longer.

Add pumpkin sauce to drained pasta/broccoli mixture and toss to mix. Serve hot. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Pumpkin Pudding Treat

Makes 8 servings.

1        5.1 – ounce package instant pudding and pie filling mix

1        15-ounce can pureed pumpkin

1        12-ounce can evaporated milk

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg, if desired

In bowl with an electric mixer beat together pudding mix and evaporated milk. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Beat in pumpkin and cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving.


Pumpkin Butter

Makes 1-pint.

1        15-ounce can pumpkin

¾       cup granulated sugar

1        teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat stir together canned pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring frequently, or until pumpkin butter is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon..

While pumpkin butter is still hot, ladle into a sterilized jar, fill and place screw top lid on. Refrigerate immediately for up to 3 weeks or freeze up to one year. Enjoy on biscuits or toast and even a toasted English.


Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Submitted by Doris Buscher, in her memory.

1        pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1        baked 9-inch pie shell, chilled

1        cup canned pumpkin

¾       cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

¼       teaspoon ground nutmeg

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

1        cup whipped topping or whipped cream

Spoon softened ice cream into bottom of pie shell. Smooth out so it lays evenly. Store in freezer while preparing filling.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices, mix well. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture over frozen ice cream. Return to freezer until ready to serve.


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, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.