Forks in the Road: Food and Travel in Central PA - A Community Blog

Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures

Perfectly Pumpkin: 13 Delectable Dishes for a Dash of Seasonal Flavor

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Nov 4, 2013 12:06 PM

‘Tis the season for a little harvest and spice in your life. As the weather begins to grow colder and we cozy up near fires and under blankets, we often are reminded of the homey smells of nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin wafting through the air.

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Photo by Marius Boeriu

Pumpkins are a true sign of the season.

Instead of day-dreaming and having visions of pumpkin and cinnamon, why not bring these nostalgic scents into your own kitchen? You too can cook up some of the most delightful fall pumpkin dishes just like grandma used to make. But don't stop there; try some new recipes that will be sure to pleasantly surprise your guests this holiday season.

Beverages

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

For a filling snack on the go or smooth and creamy treat, this drink will surely get your taste buds going. In tasting the mouthwateringly sweet, vanilla pudding juxtaposed with savory pumpkin puree, you will have a treat fit for a holiday feast. Top the frothy creation off with dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg for a complete pumpkin experience.

Jack-O-Lantern Punch

Looking to serve up some spice for some guests? This fun, rum cocktail is perfect for a single serving or for a party. Created for the Mayahuel Restaurant in New York City, the Flor De Cana, cloves and lemon juice really packs a punch. This simple concoction can be transformed into more than just a drink. Add roasted pumpkin seeds and hollow out a pumpkin to soak in all the flavors of the season.

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Photo by Denise Mattox

I too adore my beloved PSL, but variety is the spice of life, no?

Pumpkin-Spice Latte

Instead of making a mad dash to the nearest coffee joint to get your pumpkin fix, why not create your own right at home so you can stay warm and toasty. Betty Crocker has a beautiful recipe that its simplicity makes your coffee brewing all the more enjoyable. The fresh brewed coffee and canned pumpkin are paired so wonderfully that it's as if you carved the pumpkin yourself. What's even better about this treat is that you probably already have most of the ingredients in your custom cabinets.

Appetizers

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Entice your guests to devour this fluffy, light and yes, healthy treat. Not only does this satisfy your craving for all things pumpkin, but you can also pair it with some other fall favorites like apples or cinnamon Teddy Grahams. You will also love that a half-cup of this fluff is only 100 calories. The secret lies in the Greek yogurt and Splenda or other sugar alternatives.

Pumpkin-Acorn Squash Soup

Did you brave the chilly weather outside? Well, warm up with one of the best sweet and savory soups out there. Smooth, creamy and filled with flavor, the acorn squash and pumpkin mix present an almost candy-like quality, so there is no need for dessert. Its intoxicating aroma is enough to make you crave a second bowl. To raise the bar, add a few pumpkin seeds for a delightful crunch.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Not sure what to do with your left-over un-carved pumpkin from Halloween? Make the most out of this plump decoration and gut it for its nutritional seeds. Simply place them on a baking sheet with aluminum foil and baste them with a little melted butter. For something sweet, add sprinkles of cinnamon or nutmeg. This is the perfect snack that you can make with the little ones.

Entrees

Pumpkin Lasagna with Ricotta and Swiss Chard

Most people do not associate pumpkins with lasagna. However, this dish is perfect for vegetarians or anyone who appreciates a healthy meal, jam-packed with vegetable nutrients. A unique, savory dish, the pumpkin puree and cheeses have such a nice balance that will leave you full and satisfied. If you're planning to serve to a larger number of guests, this dish also makes some wonderful, heaping servings and is fairly inexpensive to make.

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts

Stray away from generic macaroni and cheese when cooking a rich pasta dish. Instead, try to tackle this hearty, earthy blend that is perfect for a lighter pasta fare, yet still rich in flavor. A plethora of fresh, diced red onions, garlic cloves, chives, hazelnuts and hints of sage, your mouth will experience so many taste sensations. The subtle pumpkin flavor adds just the right amount of harvest flavor, making this dish polished and an 'A+' in presentation.

Pumpkin Spice Glazed Chicken Wings

Craving some pub eats and munchies? This easy dish will give chicken wings some class and sophistication to the most stubborn of palettes. It's amazing how well the brown sugar and pumpkin spice match flawlessly with soy sauce and Irish Ale, which are indeed two unlikely match-ups. The madness in the mixing is heavenly. This is a perfect dish for Sunday football, especially for those that cannot handle hot wings.

Desserts

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Photo by LittleRedKitchen on Flickr

There are non-gluten free options, of course, for those without dietary restrictions. I'm drooling over these pumpkin whoopie pies with Biscoff cream.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Free of Gluten, these delicious pumpkin morsels really do melt in your mouth. Even though this recipe calls for Gluten-free Flour Blend and vanilla, the flavor is never compromised. The cream cheese, sugar and hint of pumpkin spice provide enough of the sweet satisfaction, which is perfect to quell any sweet tooth craving. For a smaller, more manageable treat, make the pies bite-sized to give just enough to appreciate its flavor.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Don't settle for any old pumpkin pie. You can keep a simple tradition alive by added just a little bit of cheesecake to make this dish rich and bursting with flavor. Instead of bringing to the table a warm, oven-baked pie, go for a pleasantly chilled pumpkin cheesecake. Especially if you are hosting or travelling for a Thanksgiving dinner, this pie keeps really well in the refrigerator or freezer.

Pumpkin Crisp

A wonderful, homemade dish that will bring back memories of grandma's cooking. Authentic and natural from its core ingredients, this dish is perfect for a more health conscious and easy to prepare dessert. This could be an excellent staple dessert, especially when trying to detox and begin your healthy food diet regiment. Keep in mind, you will have tons extra to share with friends, as it keeps well for a while. Remember, you can add nutmeg and whipped cream for topping.

Feeling Ambitious?

Pumpkin Ice Cream and Pepita Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream and pumpkin? Yes, please. Try this dish as it will turn heads and get the attention of the most curious food taster. The dessert itself is beautiful; it's colorful and full of flavor. The taste is out of this world.

Whether cooking up a creation to enjoy yourself, or to share with others, there are thousands of amazing, delectable pumpkin recipes out there to try. The key is to not limit your perspective. Think outside of the box and incorporate pumpkin into your holiday season.

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