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I didn’t grow up eating pumpkin, we were more of a sweet potato family! I can’t ever remember my mommy using pumpkin at all. In fact, I was grown when I start eating it. Not sure if my mom just didn’t like it or what but I can certainly compare the taste of pumpkin vs. sweet potato:  to me, pumpkin’s flavor is more pungent, it’s sorta in your face like, “Notice me, I’m a Pumpkin!” Sweet potatoes have a more sweeter, more laid back flavor like it doesn’t have to be the star of the show! And, of course when you’re driving around town at this time of year in the U.S., you don’t see a bunch of sweet potatoes in the fields!!! haa haaa!

I love to see all the pumpkins out and people picking them up. So, when Jen and I chose to feature them this month, of course my mind went to the obvious dishes – pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, etc., but when I post a menu here I sorta want to break with tradition so I chose a more unconventional menu I think. And, I know my vegetarian friends will like this as well! As I mentioned, I didn’t grow up eating pumpkin so my first experience with it was pumpkin butter. At first, I wasn’t sure what the stuff would taste like but one of my dearest friends bought some for me for my birthday one year and I decided to try it. Well…after I put a little on my butter knife and tasted it, it wasn’t soon after that it found its way onto a slice of toast! And then, there were the pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, you name it! So….I was obviously hooked and off to experiment more with it.

So without further ado, I introduce you to this month’s menu featuring Pumpkin!

First off, we’ll start with:

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Next…

Vegetarian Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Orzo

with Pumpkin Whole Wheat Bread

And for Dessert…

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Lastly,

I’ll share a recipe for Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Butter

So starting with our soup, I love to start any meal with a nice warm soup and to me this time of year is all about comfort. I generally curl on my loveseat with a blanket or quilt, have a bowl of soup and watch an old 1940s movie. So, this Pumpkin Ginger soup hits the spot!

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Ingredients:
2 c. pumpkin, cooked
3 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp. butter
1 c. light cream
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, diced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Preparation:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Saute onion and apple until tender. Stir in pumpkin, broth and spices. Remove from heat.
Process or blend until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in cream. Heat through and serve.

Vegetarian Pumpkin Risotto

Even though risotto requires a lot of extensive stirring, I think it’s so worth the effort and the aroma of pumpkin cooking in the house is just insane!

Ingredients:
1 onion diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. risotto rice
1 c. apple juice
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. margarine
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for three to five minutes, or until soft. Add the rice. Allow to cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Slowly add the apple juice.

Start to add the vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the moisture to cook off before adding the next 1/2 cup. Stir frequently. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well, and cook for just a few minutes, until heated through.

Pumpkin Orzo

I know I’m doing two pastas but you can cook the risotto one day and then fix orzo another day! I adore Orzo and there are so many uses for it, put it on a bed of salad or let it be the side dish for Thanksgiving!

Ingredients:
1-1/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. orzo pasta
fresh basil for topping

Preparation:
In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, pumpkin, butter, honey, balsamic vinegar, ginger, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add orzo. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Top with basil. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Bread

YUMMO! BREAD!

Ingredients:
1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 c. solid pack pumpkin, preferably fresh (but canned works fine)
1/2 c. butter

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 1 loaf pan. Combine eggs and pumpkin in large bowl. Add flour, one cup at a time. Add sugar, baking powder and soda. Mix until smooth. Mix in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour batter into pan. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool before slicing. Makes 1 loaf. Slice and serve!

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

I have a few friends who LOVE to bake pumpkin cheesecakes and I thought that would be perfect to share here instead of pumpkin pie. It is so good and one of the things I like about pumpkin is that it doubles as a veggie or as a dessert! Can’t beat versatility and diversity huh?

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin butter
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Preparation:
Combine pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar; cut in butter or margarine with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Set aside. Beat cream cheese at high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin butter. Pour mixture into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes and then sprinkle pecan mixture over pie. Bake for 5 additional minutes, or until butter or margarine and sugar melt. Cool on a wire rack. Cover, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Butter

And this is what started this love affair of mine! Pumpkin butter! Taken my Vegan All American Biscuits recipe from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet.

Stirring is crucial in this recipe to prevent burning your pumpkin butter. If you must walk away, add a few tablespoons of apple juice and turn down the stove heat to medium-low, still continuing to stir as you can. (Add about 5-7 minutes additional cooking time if you do this.)

Makes about 2 cups, prep time: about 15 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1-15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c. agave syrup*
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine the pumpkin and agave nectar* in a small saucepan over medium heat, mixing until well combined. Stirring constantly, cook for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the spices and salt, and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat, and transfer your pumpkin butter to a small heat-proof dish or jar. Let cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Pumpkin butter will keep for about 2 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.

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*Agave nectar also known as agave syrup is an alternative sweetener that can be used in place of maple syrup, honey or sugar in cooking and baking recipes. Derived from the agave plant, agave nectar has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose than most sweeteners, so it has a lower glycemic index and glycemic and is thus a good substitute for persons who are watching their blood sugar levels. Available in light to dark grades like other syrups, agave nectar can be found in most groceries and health food stores among baking products and other syrups.

I hope you’ll try some of these recipes or think of making any of them for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, I’m sorta out with the old and in with the new myself!

Well…that’s all for this month everyone, I hope you enjoyed Jen’s and my take on pumpkin, tune in next month for our next chosen ingredient, you never know what we might write about so be sure to keep following and let us know what you think!

See ya next month!

Kim

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