Pup-kin treats.

At some point, pumpkin season in the kitchen has to end, even for me. Which is, I'm sure, a relief to my family, who would like me to start cooking more wintry Christmasy fare such as shephard's pie, comforting stews, gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, and Christmas cookies. Just ... nothing with pumpkin.

There are, however, still a few pumpkin dishes left to
write about, including these pumpkin dog treats from Everything Pumpkin. I have made them twice for Piper, our sweet flop-eared Corgi, and she loves them! Or at least, like any normal healthy dog, she employs her "eat now and ask questions later" philosophy of food consumption whenever I offer her one. As yet, she hasn't questioned the worth of ingesting these treats and keeps coming back for more. Frequently. All day, every day.
Pumpkin dog biscuits 1Last year's canned pumpkin shortage inspired me to stock up on Trader Joe's organic pumpkin. Now, Trader Joe's can almost do no wrong. However, this canned pumpkin tasted pretty poorly. Bad, even. Downright yucky. So instead of using it for pie (I decided even sugar and cinnamon couldn't save this stuff) into the dog treats it went. Dogs don't know good canned pumpkin from bad, right? By the way, canned pumpkin is actually recommended for treating doggie diarrhea so it's safe for canine consumption.
Pumpkin dog biscuits 3Just a few ingredients: pumpkin, water, vegetable oil, cinnamon, oatmeal, and wheat flour. Mix everything into a stiff dough, roll it, and cut out fun shapes. No need for dog bone cookie cutters--any shape will do. Doggie does not care!
Pumpkin dog biscuits 6Dogs pretty much don't give a hoot about anything with regard to food except its eatability. They have little regard for the shape, size, flavor, color, texture, temperature, or toxicity of their food. It all goes down the same gullet with such blinding speed one wonders why they even have a tongue. Time to consider such trivialities later, while napping peacefully on the couch and filling the room with the gaseous after-effects of their last meal. Sometimes the smell of food matters, in that the more offensively smelly it is to humans, the more culinary appeal it holds for dogs.
Pumpkin dog biscuits 9Ah, but these cookies smell good while they're baking! Everyone in the house asks, "Ooh, what's in the oven?" whenever I'm making up a batch of dog treats. They don't spread at all, so you can squeeze a lot onto a cookie sheet. Once they are baked hard (they do take longer than regular cookies to bake all the way through) and cooled, watch your pup pounce on them.
Pumpkin dog biscuits 10Piper loves these spread with a little all-natural peanut butter, to keep her tummy happy between meals (her vet would roll her eyeballs in the direction of Piper's extra heft if she read that). She'd prefer huge slices of cheddar cheese or and turkey sandwich meat, but she seems happy enough with her pumpkin treats. Another pumpkin lover in the house! A pup after my own heart.

I do a decent amount of cooking for the humans in my life, so it's gratifying to make these easy from-scratch treats for my beloved doggie. The recipe yields a lot of treats so they last a good long time, although if Piper had free access to these things they'd be gone in 15 minutes flat. There's something to be said for the devotion of a creature who never questions the quality of your cooking.

Two pumpkin dog treat recipes are
here along with lots of other pumpkin recipes, including one for pumpkin latkes that I missed for Hanukkah. Darnit! Next year. Bone appetite!

Feel free to leave a comment!

More pumpkin: Spiced dinner rolls.

Magazine Cuisine

It might seem excessive to serve pumpkin rolls with Harvest Pumpkin Salad. But not for me! These "Spiced Dinner Rolls," from the same issue of Victoria Magazine as the pumpkin salad, have a small amount of brown sugar as well as nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice, but they can swing sweet or savory. Savory or sweet. They work just as well sopping up bacon-flavored balsamic vinaigrette as they do smothered in butter and honey. Such versatility is handy in a bread! And pumpkin + bread = two of my favorite food experiences in one. Bonus: I've included the recipe below.

Pumpkin rolls ingredients
Just 1/4 cup of brown sugar gives these rolls the barest hint of sweetness. And of course there is the requisite canned pumpkin lending its lovely color to the kitchen on a cool autumn afternoon.

Pumpkin rolls 2
I thank the Yeast Goddess (and a sprinkling of sugar) for once again activating my expired yeast!

Pumpkin rolls proofed yeast
You'd almost think you were making a spiced pumpkin cake, what with the egg, heavy cream, sugar, nutmeg and flour.

Pumpkin rolls makins in bowl
The batter is such a pretty color. But it's very wet, so a good deal of flour must be added to get a workable dough that isn't too sticky.

Pumpkin rolls mixed together
This lovely orange-hued ball of dough has been kneaded to perfect elasticity and is ready to rise.

Pumpkin rolls dough ball
The recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls and placing each ball into the individual wells of a muffin tin. I don't have enough muffin tins to accommodate this in one baking, so I tucked about a dozen balls each into two round cake pans. The dough balls rose and puffed into each other nicely, and browned wonderfully in the oven.
Pumpkin rolls finished
What's the first thing you do with a batch of freshly baked pumpkin rolls? Split one open and let butter melt all over the warm insides! I love butter. Pumpkin + bread + butter = ORGANIC. Oh my. Well, you probably know I meant to type something else, but this is more or less an all-ages blog. (I did use organic pumpkin in this recipe.) After butter, try other toppings like apple butter, or cheddar cheese. But not at the same time. Although, wait ... apples and cheddar go well so I just might have to try them together. Any excuse to dig into those rolls! The "spice" is very subtle--they aren't overly pumpkin-pie-like. A nice complement to an autumnal meal whenever a warm (preferably buttered) roll is called for.

Pumpkin rolls apple butter

Spiced Dinner Rolls
From the September/October 2008 Victoria Magazine

Makes 24 rolls

1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup warm heavy cream (110 degrees F)
1 package dry active yeast
4 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup clarified butter
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg
Walnut Caramel Butter (see
Victoriamag.com for recipe)

  • In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract; set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar and warm cream until sugar is dissolved; sprinkle the yeast on top, and let mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups flour, pumpkin puree mixture, butter, salt, vinegar, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and egg to the yeast mixture.
  • Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat mixture until smooth. Stir in 1-1/2 cups flour to form a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to prevent the dough from sticking to hands.
  • Place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Coat 2 (12-cup) muffin tins with cooking spray. Punch down the dough, cut into 24 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Place each ball into a well of prepared muffin tin. Cover with the kitchen towel, and let rise 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dough, and bake for 15 minutes. Cool rolls slightly on wire racks before serving. Serve warm with Walnut Caramel Butter.

Harvest Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette.

Magazine Cuisine

See if you can believe this: pumpkin lover though I am, I've cooked with a fresh pumpkin only once in my life: bread-pudding stuffed pumpkin from a Victory Gardens recipe my brother Mark shared with me years ago. Then I managed to lose the recipe and haven't cooked with fresh pumpkin since, although I've used a good deal of the canned kind (thank goodness the canned pumpkin shortage is over!). Until last weekend, that is, when I finally tried "Harvest Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette" from the September/October 2008 issue of Victoria Magazine. (This recipe is not posted at the Victoria mag site, unfortunately.)

I've been drooling over the Harvest Salad recipe for two years: imagine seasoned (and
bathed in butter) baked pumpkin slices atop mixed greens then tossed with bacon/balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with toasted pecans. Gimme! Grocery stores around here don't generally carry small pie pumpkins (or "sugar" pumpkins) meant for cooking and eating, so when I saw them at a local garden center for $3 each I pounced.
Pumpkin salad ingredients
This is the first time I've carved a pumpkin in September, I'm sure of that.

Pumpkin salad punkin
I cut out the top, then sliced the wee thing in half. Oh, that fresh pumpkin smell really brings Halloween closer! I breathed it in for a few minutes, while visions of jack o'lanterns danced in my head. A bonus: these smaller pumpkins are much easier to cut through then thick carving pumpkins.

Pumpkin salad cut open punkin
I considered baking the seeds, but there's plenty of time for that come the end of October. That's another wonderful smell in the house--seasoned pumpkin seeds baking on a cookie sheet. One of my favorite scents of autumn!

Pumpkin salad punkin open seeds
Peeling wasn't too bad, but pumpkins certainly have tougher skin than apples or carrots. Our nice sharp vegetable peeler helped (I would not recommend a paring knife for this task), although the skin tended to fly off in big flakes all over the kitchen. It was messy but manageable.

Pumpkin salad cutting up
Now butter is melted with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then brushed onto the slices. Anything brushed with melted seasoned butter is, in my cookbook, destined to be delicious! I love butter, especially when it is melting onto something hot like rice, vegetables, pasta or homemade bread. As far as I'm concerned, butter is the elixir of life.

Pumpkin salad buttered slices
A simple vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil (I used our favorite Lucini, one of the few real indulgences in our pantry--don't freak too badly when you see the price, it's worth every penny), chopped garlic, and crumbled crispy bacon is whisked together. In the future I might leave the bacon out of the dressing and instead crumble it over the dressed salad. The recipe also called for liberally dressing the greens in advance with the vinaigrette; I opted toss them with the merest drizzle--just enough to make them glisten and give them some flavor.

Pumpkin salad greens cheese
The fully assembled salad, if I humbly say so myself, was extremely tasty! The mix of flavors and textures worked beautifully together: warm, buttery seasoned pumpkin, bright tangy mixed greens, savory-salty bacon vinaigrette, crunchy toasted pecans.

Pumpkin salad day 1
Somehow the lightly dressed greens gave the whole dish a sophistication I don't normally accomplish (or even aim for) at home. We sprinkled parmesan cheese on top, but agreed it didn't really need the cheese. Which is saying a lot because we love sprinkling freshly grated parmesan cheese on just about everything. (We also love slicing it up and snacking on it while we're preparing dinner.)

Kenny gave his enthusiastic approval, too, saying that if we opened a restaurant this should be at the top of the menu. He's a generous and wonderfully willing culinary guinea pig! We probably won't be opening a restaurant, but we'll be eating a lot of pumpkin dishes--including this one--over the next few months.

Pumpkin salad day 2
It was equally tasty as leftovers two days later. And it was a delicious diversion from sweetened pumpkin recipes, although there will be more of those to come in the very near future! Next up, though: Spiced Pumpkin Rolls, also from Victoria Magazine.

Harvest Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
From the September/October 2008 Victoria Magazine

Makes 6 servings

1 baking pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup melted butter
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 shallot, minced
6 cups salad greens
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  • Place the pumpkin slices 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic powder; evenly coat pumpkin slices with the butter mixture. Roast pumpkin for4 20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Using a food processor, mix together the oil, vinegar, remaining salt, remaining pepper, bacon, and shallot until well blended.
  • In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Mound the greens on a serving plate, and top with roasted pumpkin. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the pumpkin, and top with the Parmesan cheese and pecans.

Notes: I flipped the pumpkin slices about halfway through baking. I used precooked bacon, to save time (it toasts up nice and crisp in a toaster oven in about 3 minutes). I drizzled just a small amount of the vinaigrette on the greens, instead of using the 3/4 cup called for.

It's Pumpkin season!

Magazine Cuisine!

Brrrrrrrr, it’s chilly out there! Whether the sun is shining or the skies are gray and blustery, the weather is wonderfully autumnal now. And when October gets cold and windy, my appetite for all things pumpkin is piqued. After a good long walk outside in the chilly air enjoying the fall color (and sometimes even without it), I'm ready to start cooking some of the numerous pumpkin recipes I’ve collected over the years. Pumpkin is a quintessential fall food, and there are so many sweet and savory ways to use it beyond pumpkin pies (not that there’s anything wrong with pies). I've got recipes for pumpkin bread, rolls, macaroni and cheese, stews, polenta, and salad, as well as pies, tarts, cakes, flan, pudding, gingerbread, ice cream and pancakes, to name but a few. The season isn't long enough to make them all, and I don't know where to begin! But we have to start somewhere, so let's start with brownies.
melting butter n chocolate
Oh how I love butter melting into dark chocolate!

I found Pumpkin Swirl Brownies at the Everything-Pumpkin blog. Pumpkin and chocolate are a surprisingly tasty combination, which I discovered as a teenager on my birthday when mom made my favorite devil’s food cake with dark chocolate icing, and bought a quart of pumpkin ice cream from Baskin Robbins. I’ve been hooked on chocolate/pumpkin ever since, and in these brownies the pairing is every bit as good. You make a plain vanilla batter, divide it in half, then add pumpkin and spices to one half and melted dark chocolate to the other.
chocolate and pumpkin batters
Layer and swirl them together in the pan, and bake. Delish! I skipped the cayenne and nuts, and substituted allspice for the nutmeg. Also, in my 9x9 inch pan these brownies were very thick and took quite a while to cook. Next time I’ll use my oddball 8x11 glass pan.
pumpkin swirl brownies in pan
They were so very good -- the moist pumpkin swirl tasted just like pumpkin pie, and complemented the rich dark chocolate swirl beautifully. They freeze well and can be warmed up nicely in the microwave. Perfect with a cold glass of milk, a steaming cup of coffee, or a simple pot of tea.
pumpkin swirl brownies on plate
Just a few days later we woke up on a cool, sunny Sunday morning and decided to make Pumpkin Ginger Waffles from the October 2009 issue of Country Living magazine. I usually find waffles too heavy or crispy, but this recipe made light, moist, flavorful waffles that filled the kitchen with the cozy fragrance of pumpkin and ginger while they cooked in our heart-shaped waffle maker. I omitted the crystallized ginger, thinking it might have made the ginger flavor a little too intense, and increased the cinnamon to a teaspoon.
pumpkin waffle closeup
We served them butter, naturally, and real maple syrup, which we hide in the back of the fridge and then discreetly pour into a small ceramic pitcher before serving ourselves, to keep our kids (whom we love very much) from flooding their plates with it ($$$!!) and then dumping half of it into the sink with their unfinished breakfasts (which would break our hearts mightily -- they get the Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth's, until they're older). The only thing that might have made these better would be slices of warm Canadian bacon. Oh what a way to begin a fall day!

On a more savory note, I have been eyeing the Autumn Bisque recipe in the September/October 2008 issue of Victoria Magazine for an entire year now, and decided to make it recently on a brisk Saturday afternoon. It was creamy and delicious, especially topped with a sprinkling of fresh parmesan and black pepper, and accompanied by a warm grainy baguette (with butter melting all over it, of course!). The color is gorgeous and so well-suited to a chilly fall night.
Pumpkin bisque
Kenny grates fresh parmesan into our bowls of bisque. Mmmmm! The photo does not do this lovely soup justice.

The original recipe (which is not posted online) calls for mushrooms, onions, and red pepper flakes. I skipped the mushrooms, whose earthy richness might have competed with, not complemented, the mild pumpkin. I also left out the red pepper flakes, so we could enjoy a nice comforting soup without the spicy challenge to our tastebuds. My only regret was using the 1-1/2 cups of onion called for in the recipe, as well as the sliced sauteed leek. I’m not a big fan of onion, and generally either reduce or leave it out completely. I thought the onion overpowered the mellow pumpkin flavor, so I’ve modified the recipe to include more garlic and zero onion. Light coconut milk adds creaminess and just a hint of coconut flavor that doesn’t distract from the main player ... pumpkin! Because pumpkin is what it’s all about right now.

Thankfully, Kenny isn’t tired of pumpkin. Yet. I made pumpkin macaroni and cheese last week, and Curried Scallops on Pumpkin Polenta is in the queue. Oh it’s going to be a delicious fall!

Pumpkin Bisque
Adapted from "Autumn Bisque" recipe in September/October 2008 issue of Victoria Magazine.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (depending on how much you love garlic!)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cups chicken broth, divided
3 cups canned pumpkin puree (or fresh, if desired)
1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh chopped type, or 1/4 tsp dried
Toasted pumpkin seeds and grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, and sautee until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 15-20 minutes. Pour broth mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot and turn heat up to medium. Add remaining broth, pumpkin puree, and coconut milk and heat through. Stir in the salt, lemon juice and thyme and simmer for about 10 minutes. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and/or grated parmesan cheese, if using.