Celebrate autumn with pumpkin in all forms

This seasonal fruit and all the spices that accompany it can be used in savory and sweet foods

Pumpkin seems to be everywhere right now.

There are pumpkin lattes, pumpkin spice, pumpkin cocktails — not to mention the traditional pumpkin pie.

So it’s time to incorporate pumpkin into autumn meals. After all, pumpkin is a savory ingredient that can star in soups, stews, pancakes, quick breads, lasagnas and more, but it also goes well in sweets, such as cookies and bars.

For a festive touch to your meal, serve soup or stew in bowls made from hollowed-out pumpkins. Cut the tops off several small pumpkins, remove the seeds and scrape inside walls clean. Wash thoroughly with warm water, place pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake in a 250-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the inside begins to soften. 

Use the “bowl” warm for soups or stews or, with a cold meal, allow the shell to cool.

You don’t need to use fresh pumpkin puree in dishes. Try canned puree if you’re pressed for time or just don’t want to bother with the mess. When you do make fresh puree, freeze some so you have it on hand.

For an easy snack, roast the pumpkin seeds. When carving your jack-o’-lantern, remove the seeds and separate them from the pulp. Thoroughly wash the seeds in warm water, then spread them out on a cookie sheet.

Sprinkle the seeds generously with salt and bake in a 350-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Check every five minutes and stir, adding more salt to taste. Check seeds to see if they are done by taking a sample out, allowing to cool and tasting. If the insides are dry, they are done. Allow to cool and serve.

There are numerous variations of this basic formula, enough to satisfy every taste. For example, make taco lime seeds by combining the seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, baking them in a 275-degree oven for 20 minutes and drizzling them with 1 tablespoon lime juice.

If you like pumpkin pie, combine the roasted seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, then spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

To satisfy the bacon lover in your life, spread the unroasted seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cut four slices of bacon into pieces and sprinkle them on the pan, then bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until the bacon is crunchy and the seeds are golden.

Following are recipes from thekitchn.com.


Spiked Pumpkin Spice Creamer

1 cup cold heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 tablespoons pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground nutmeg


Place all ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk gently until just combined.

Makes 1-1/2 cups.



Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup canned or homemade pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

2 large eggs

1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Vegetable or canola oil or cooking spray

Maple syrup or pumpkin spice syrup, for serving


Place flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ]baking soda, ginger and ground nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Cut butter into four pieces and melt in saucepan or microwave oven. Add  buttermilk, pumpkin purée, eggs, brown sugar and kosher salt and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add to the flour mixture and fold until just combined with no streaks of flour.

Let mixture sit 10 minutes.

After five minutes, heat a large seasoned cast-iron skillet, nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Sprinkle a couple drops of cold water in pan — if drops bounce, the pan is ready to use; if they evaporate instantly, the pan is too hot.

Brush heated pan with a light coating of vegetable oil  or coat with cooking spray. Drop 1/4-cup  batter servings into the pan and gently flatten each with a spatula until about 3 inches wide. Cook 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown and small bubbles appear on the top, then flip and cook at least 2-1/2 minutes, until browned. Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet keep warm in a 200-degree oven.

Serve with butter and maple or pumpkin spice syrup.

Makes four to six servings


Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 tablespoons pumpkin purée

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup espresso or 1/3 to 1/2 cup strong coffee

1/4 cup cold heavy cream, whipped into firm peaks


Place the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook about two minutes, stirring constantly, until hot and smells cooked. Add sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly, thick syrup.

Whisk in milk and vanilla and warm gently, stirring often and watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

Carefully process the mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender —hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels — until frothy and blended.

Divide espresso between two mugs. Add frothed milk and pumpkin mixture. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg, if desired.

Makes two servings.


Slow Cooker Creamy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups steel-cut oats

1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 cups water

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

3-inch cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

For serving: heavy cream, ground cinnamon and additional maple syrup


Melt one tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add oats and stir three minutes, until lightly toasted. Push oats to the side of the pan and melt the remaining butter in the center of the pan. Add pumpkin purée to the center of the pan and cook one minute without stirring. Add ginger, nutmeg and cloves into the purée and cook three to four minutes, stirring occasionally, until purée darkens slightly and the raw smell disappears.

Transfer the mixture to a four to six-quart slow cooker that’s been coated on the bottom and sides with cooking spray or olive oil. Add water, milk, maple syrup, cinnamon stick, vanilla and salt and stir well to combine.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for eight hours. When finished, much of the pumpkin purée will have separated from the oats. Stir well with a wooden spoon  and remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Spoon oatmeal into bowls and finish with a splash of heavy cream, a dusting of ground cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.

Makes six servings.


Pumpkin Dump Cake

16 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

3 large eggs

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces pecans, optional

1 15.25-ounce box yellow cake mix

Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving


Melt butter in the microwave or stove and set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and kosher salt in a large bowl until smooth. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that’s coated with cooking spray.

Coarsely chop pecans. Sprinkle half the box of yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle with the pecans. Sprinkle with the remaining cake mix, then pour melted butter evenly over the cake.

Bake in a 350-degree oven 45 to 50 minutes, until cake is golden-brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Wrap the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for as long as three days.


No-Bake Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 cups cold heavy cream

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 15-ounce can pumpkin pie filling

Graham cracker crumbs, for garnish

Ground cinnamon, for garnish, optional


Beat cream on high in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer for 1-1/2 to two minutes, until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.

Place cream cheese and brown sugar in mixer bowl. Beat on high speed about one minute, until fluffy. Add pumpkin pie filling and beat 30 seconds, until just combined. Fold in half the whipped cream by hand until evenly combined, taking care not to deflate mixture.

Divide mixture between six to eight glasses. Dollop remaining whipped cream onto each, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and dust with cinnamon, if using.

Makes six to eight servings.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for as long as two days.


Pumpkin Spice French Toast

For custard:

1-1/2 cups whole milk or heavy cream

6 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin purée

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon espresso powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For French toast:

8 1-inch-thick slices challah bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving

Maple syrup

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans


Place whole milk or heavy cream, eggs, pumpkin purée, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice and kosher salt in a large bowl. Whisk until fully combined and no streaks of unbeaten egg remain. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Place four slices bread in a single layer in the custard. Soak one to two minutes, flipping once, until moistened but not falling apart. Transfer bread to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread.

Melt one tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until sizzling but not browned. Add four slices bread in a single layer and cook three to four minutes, until the bottoms are golden-brown and crispy. Flip and cook two to three minute, until the second side is browned. Transfer to a serving plate.

Add remaining butter to the skillet and cook the remaining bread.

Top each serving with maple syrup, butter, a dusting of pumpkin pie spice and two tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans.

Makes four servings.


Frozen Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter-Pumpkin Bites

6 ounces mini chocolate-covered pretzels (about 30)

1 cup pumpkin purée

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably with sugar


Line an eight-inch square pan with aluminum foil, then coat with cooking spray. Place a single layer of pretzels upside down in the pan, fitting them as close together as possible.

Place pumpkin and peanut butter in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Mixture will be very thick. Dollop evenly over the pretzels, then smooth into an even layer. Freeze about two hours, until solid.

Using the foil, remove the mixture from the pan and invert onto a cutting board. Remove and discard the foil. Cut the slab into 16 2-inch squares. Serve frozen.

Makes 16 treats

Store the bites in an airtight container in the freezer for as long as two weeks.



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Flaky salt, optional


Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes, place in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt. Continue cooking three to four minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to release any browned bits, until the butter is light brown, smells nutty and is no longer foamy.

Immediately scrape butter into a large heatproof bowl and cool 10 minutes. Place flour, ground cinnamon, kosher salt, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Add light brown sugar, pumpkin purée, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup sugar to the browned butter and whisk until smooth and glossy. Add flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the flour is completely absorbed. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Scoop out the dough with a 1-1/2-inch cookie scoop or into 18 two-tablespoon portions and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the remaining sugar. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on two parchment-lines baking sheets. Gently flatten each dough ball with the bottom of a drinking glass until about 1/2-inch thick. Place a few extra chocolate chips into the tops of the cookies and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for nine to 11 minutes, until cookies are light brown and puffed. The centers should look set and have no wet spots.

Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

If desired, you can replace the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg with 2-1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.


Pumpkin Risotto

5-1/2 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces shallots, minced

1-3/4 cups arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice

1-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Pinot Bianco, or dry white vermouth

1-1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese

6 to 10 large sage leaves, finely chopped, optional


Place stock, pumpkin, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add shallots and cook six to seven minutes, stirring, until translucent with a few brown edges. Add rice and stir two to three minutes, until each grain is coated in fat. Reduce the heat to low, add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup pumpkin stock mixture and stir constantly until absorbed. Add remaining stock mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition and adding the next amount only after the previous one is fully absorbed by the rice.

After you have used 4-1/2 to 5 cups of the stock mixture, taste rice to determine if it is very hard, firm or al dente. You are looking for al dente, with the grains just a bit toothsome. The rice should be enrobed in a creamy sauce and the grains should remain slightly al dente. If it is, you can move on to the next step. But it hasn’t reached that stage, add more stock, this time 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition and tasting once it has been absorbed.

Stir in cheese and sage, if using. Serve immediately. Risotto is not a make-ahead dish. Even if you finish it 15 minutes before serving and simply allow it to sit, risotto turns into a paste.

Makes four servings.


Slow Cooker Vegan Pumpkin Curry

1 3 to 4 pound baking pumpkin

1/2 medium white onion, chopped

1 whole red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups water

1 14-ounce can coconut milk



Cooked basmati rice, to serve

Chopped cilantro, to serve


Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut pumpkin into quarters or sixths , then use a paring knife or a very sharp and sturdy vegetable peeler to peel the pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 2 pounds of cubes.

Combine pumpkin cubes, chopped onions, chopped red peppers, spices, water and coconut milk in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for two to three hours, until pumpkin is tender.

If the curry is thinner than desired, scoop out one to two cups liquid and discard it. You can also blend half of the remaining curry in a blender or food processor — letting it cool slightly before blending — until smooth, then stir it back into the curry to make it thicker.

Season curry with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked basmati rice and garnished with cilantro.

Makes six servings.


Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 15-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes

1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons apple cider or white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

Cooked pasta, for serving


Place crushed or diced tomatoes and their juices, pumpkin purée, sugar, apple cider or white wine vinegar, kosher salt, onion powder, dried parsley, dried rosemary, dried sage, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.

Transfer to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat five to 10 minutes, until heated through and the flavors meld. If the sauce has a faint tin-like aftertaste, cook for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Add 1/4 cup heavy cream and stir to combine. Toss with al dente pasta to coat, using a little reserved pasta cooking water to help loosen the sauce if needed.

Sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for as long as three days.




Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login