Sunday, October 23, 2011


Photo Courtesy of Jaime Green

Ever Since I can remember I have always been a fan of the color orange. All I can say is that it speaks to me. I can be having the craziest or most stressful of days but when my eyes spy the color orange, I am quickly transformed into a state of bliss. With that admission, it should come as no surprise that pumpkins also make me happy, right? I don’t remember the first time I had a love affair with a pumpkin but I have no doubt that it goes back to the first time I bit into one of my grandma's yeasty pumpkin rolls. She was a huge fan of the pumpkin and all of its health benefits. As I sat in her kitchen she would share how important a pumpkin was with its high amounts of potassium and vitamin C.

As important as that info was it was not as important to me as that delicious aroma that would be coming from the oven, what can I say, I was easily distracted by a bigger reward! I loved how she would take a pumpkin and use its flesh in all sorts of sweet and savory dishes. I remember being more fascinated by the many recipes she came up with than by cutting a jack-o-lantern out. GG taught me how to bake my first pie and she taught me how to use the versatile yeast dough to create anything from coffee cake to pizza crust. Since then, I have spent many hours researching pumpkin recipes and have yet to come across one I don’t like. When I started this particular blog post I wanted to post some of my favorite recipes but quickly realized I have already done that over the last few years. So here are a few new ones I have tried recently and my hope is that if you give them a try, then maybe you, too, will see why this lovely orange orb brings me sweet bliss... I’m jus' sayin'!

Pumpkin Caramel Empanadas

Empanada Crust Recipe
Pumpkin Caramel Filling

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup of Kraft Caramel bits

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.

To make Empanadas:
Preheat oven to 350 F and divide chilled dough into 4 quarters. Roll out each quarter into 1/8” inch circles. Depending on your size preference you can cut circles out with circle cookie cutters or find a plastic lid that matches your size preference. Spoon about 1 tbsp (more or less depending on empanada size). I put 2 tbs. into the center of each circle. Fold the dough over so it resembles a “taco” shape. Seal the edges using the back of a fork to keep the filling in as well as to add that cool little decorative look. Brush with melted butter or beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar (optional). Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes until golden brown. Be careful because the caramel can burn quickly so keep a watchful eye on these little treats.

Garlic Cumin Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups of fresh cleaned pumpkin seeds (rinsed and patted dry)
1 tbs. of olive oil
½ tsp. of garlic powder
½ tsp. of ground cumin
1 tsp. of kosher salt

Toss all of the ingredients together and spread out on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven for approximately 20 minutes until brown and toasty. Cool and enjoy!

Pumpkin Ginger Jam
Courtesy of “The Pumpkin Cookbook

6 lb pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
¾ cup of lemon juice
2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
1 cup of crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tbs. ground ginger
6 lbs of sugar

Makes 6 ½ quarts

Boil or steam the pumpkin until tender. Drain well and mash. Put the mashed pumpkin in a large pot with the lemon juice, lemon zest , crystalized ginger and the ground ginger. Bring to a simmer. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the pulp thickens.

Meanwhile, wash some glass preserving jars and then boil them in warm water for 10 minutes. Dry upside-down in a warm oven. They should still be warm when you are filling them. Sterilize the lids by dipping in boiling water.

To test the jam to see if it is set, drop a small amount onto a cold saucer. Place in the refrigerator briefly. Then pour the jam into warm jars and seal. (I did a final water bath of 15 minutes with the sealed jars just to be 100% safe)

Hot Pumpkin White Chocolate
Courtesy of Phyllis Hoffman "Celebrate”

Makes 6 servings

4 cups whole milk
1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin
1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 oz. of finely chopped white chocolate
*Garnish-Whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, marshmallows

In a large saucepan combine the milk, pumpkin, condensed milk and spice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat while whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add chocolate, whisking to dissolve. Ladle into mugs and garnish as desired.