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Recipes: Pass the Pumpkin

Buffalo Pumpkin Chili and Creamy Pumpkin Soup

By Jennifer Kornegay

Food/Photography by Brooke Echols

There are so many signals of fall, the sights, sounds and sensations that tell us autumn has arrived: the slant of sunlight filtered through leaves beginning to lose their green; the beat of school bands practicing for football halftime shows; the feel of crisp cool in the evening and early morning.

     But in the last few years, a deluge of “pumpkin-spiced” dishes and drinks has dominated the seasonal shift, and as a side-effect, convinced some that the flavor of pumpkin spice — a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and clove — is synonymous with the flavor of actual pumpkin itself. It’s not. Pumpkin-spiced anything (latte, muffins, beer) has a taste akin to pumpkin pie, which includes pumpkin spice (or the afore-mentioned individual spices) on its ingredient list.

     On their own, pumpkins have a distinct profile devoid of any “spice.” Their orange flesh has a light freshness (that can even be a bit bland), close to a sweet potato, but less sugary and less starchy. This semi-blank canvas works wonderfully when pureed, mixed with stronger flavors (like pumpkin spice) and baked in a piecrust. Hence the prevalence of pumpkin pie, the fall dessert that always makes this season’s “most popular” list, and all its offshoots.

     But pumpkin is equally delicious in savory preparations. It is a species of squash after all. Chunks of pumpkin, dusted with a hint of chili powder or cumin and roasted till tender, pair nicely with all kinds of meat. Or throw them into a food processor, drizzle in some cream and make a pumpkin soup. Treat pumpkins like summer squash and shred, bread and fry them into fritters. And don’t forget those seeds. Tossed in oil, toasted and salted, they make an extremely craveable snack. Pumpkins also shine in desserts other than that ubiquitous pie.

     If these options have piqued your interest in pumpkins and have you thinking about ingesting them in some new ways, check out our reader-submitted recipes.


Cook of the Month

About five years ago, when Sheila Copenhaver was looking for a way to use up some pumpkin she had on hand, she came up with her Creamy Pumpkin Soup recipe. The idea of pumpkin in a savory dish intrigued her. “You often think of pumpkin in sweet things, but its flavor pairs really well with the garlic, onion and other ingredients in this,” she said. “And of course, the bacon on top is wonderful.” She’s not the only one who thinks so. Her husband and three young kids request this soup and then gobble it up every autumn.


Creamy Pumpkin Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth

2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups cooked pumpkin

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For topping:

Sour cream

Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Green onions, thinly sliced

In a large cooking pot, sauté onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add the broth, potatoes and pumpkin. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Puree with an immersion blender or puree (half of the mixture at a time) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return all to the pot. Add the milk, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper. Heat through. Taste and season as needed. Spoon soup into bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream, bacon crumbles and green onions.


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon (pinch) ground cloves

1/2 cup oats

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in another bowl, adding oats last. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium high heat, and lightly oil if desired. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, and cook on each side until brown. Serve with syrup. Makes 15-20 3-4-inch pancakes.

Christiane McKelvey, South Alabama EC


Buffalo Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground bison (or substitute beef)

1 quart tomato juice

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 large portobello mushroom, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1 2.25-ounces can sliced olives

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Brown the bison (or beef) in a large pot, then add onions and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add everything else, bring to a boil then back to a simmer for 1 hour.

Jamie Petterson, Tallapoosa River EC


Pumpkin Bites

1 box yellow cake mix

1 14.5-oz can pumpkin

1 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix and pumpkin on low speed of mixer until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Spoon about 11/2 tablespoons dough into each hole. Bake for about 15-17 minutes. Makes 48 mini muffins.

Debra Adams, Black Warrior EMC


Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

12 chocolate shortbread cookies, crushed into crumbs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 large tub (12-ounces) whipped topping, thawed, divided in half

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine chocolate cookie crumbs and butter. Transfer into a trifle dish or large glass bowl. Gently press down crumbs to form an even layer of crust. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Beat until well combined and creamy. Use a spatula to fold in half of the whipped topping. Gently combine ingredients until smooth. Spoon a layer of pumpkin cheesecake onto the cookie crust in trifle dish, followed by a layer of whipped topping. Repeat layers until your trifle reaches the top of your dish. Store trifle in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.

Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC


Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Cake:

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 large eggs

1 box spice cake mix

15-ounce can pumpkin

8-ounce package toffee bits

In a large mixing bowl, mix together: cake mix, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and eggs. Mix well, stir in 8-ounce package of toffee bits. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 33 minutes. Cool 1 hour.

Icing:

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

2 cups powdered sugar

Mix well and spread over cooled cake. Garnish top of cake with chopped Heath English Toffee candy bars.

Jane Kendrick, Coosa Valley EC


Pumpkin Dip

2 packages cream cheese, softened

1 15-ounce canned pumpkin

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

(Pumpkin pie spice can be used too)

Beat all ingredients together and chill one hour before serving. This dip is a crowd pleaser when served with ginger snap cookies. Graham crackers are also suitable for serving with this dip.

Joy Griswold, Dixie EC


Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups pecan halves and pieces

½ cup butter, melted

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8-10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together melted butter, sugar and corn syrup. Spoon one rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans and top each with 1 rounded tablespoon pecans. Stir together flour and next four ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and 2/3 cup of water; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling ¾ full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly pan on lower rack to catch any overflow. Bake at 350 degrees on middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins and arrange muffins on a wire rack to cool. Spoon any remaining topping over muffins. Cool 5 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen.

Tracey Estes, Pioneer EC


Pumpkin Pecan Pie

1 unbaked Pillsbury piecrust

1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pie mix)

½ cup light or dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, well beaten

½ cup evaporated milk

Topping:

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup pecans, chopped

Line pie tin with pastry, tucking overlap inward and pinch up edges. Using electric hand mixer, blend ingredients together in order listed. Add to pie crust and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes and then sprinkle on mixture of: ¼ cup butter, ½ cup light brown sugar and ½ cup chopped pecans. Bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool and refrigerate a few hours to set well for slicing. If a ginger snap crust is preferred use 38 ginger snaps, ¼ cup finely chopped pecans mixed with ¼ cup melted butter.

Barbara Umland, Sand Mountain EC


Pumpkin Rolls

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup warm milk

1/3 cup melted butter

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2-2½ cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the teaspoon of sugar for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, butter, brown sugar, salt, flax and pumpkin. Add whole-wheat flour and beat until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Add enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth or mix in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease the top of the dough. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour. Punch down and return to floured surface. Roll out and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again for about an hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Carolyn Johnson, Sand Mountain EC


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Themes and Deadlines

December: Party Foods | Oct 8

January: Protein-packed | Nov 8

February: Pasta | Dec 3

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Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.