Tag Archives: pumpkin challenge

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Happy Halloween!


I always try to make roasted pumpkin seeds when we carve pumpkins. They are so easy and fun to munch on. I’ve found that one pumpkin’s worth is plenty, so don’t drive yourself crazy collecting everybody’s seeds.

Some people have special recipes for these things. I’ve seen the sweet and the savory. But I just do mine simply:

Once you’ve carved the pumpkins, separate the seeds from most of the goop. Leave some goop on, it will be yummy roasted. DO NOT WASH THE SEEDS. Spread the raw, slimy seeds on a cooking sheet and sprinkle with seasoned salt (or salt and pepper) and paprika. Roast at 400, tossing a few times, until crisped up. We like ours still a little soft in the middle.


Enjoy, friends! xoxo


Sage & browned-butter pumpkin bread


Pumpkin recipe challenge #7! I apologize for being so behind on posting lately, but I promise to do a better job this week…

Martha Stewart Magazine describes this recipe as such: “Fall’s classic flavor combinations come together beautifully in these little loaves.”

Indeed, Martha. Truth is, I don’t have eight small bread tins. Instead, I have one big one, which just took a little longer to bake. Other than that, and the fact that I strained the sage-browned-butter mixture, I didn’t change the recipe at all. True to her description, the subtle sage flavor is a nice balance to the sweetness of the pumpkin bread. And the browned butter gives it a nuttiness that is lovely.


6 oz. unsalted butter

1/4 c. sage leaves, sliced

1 2/3 c. flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

1 tsp salt

1 c. canned pumpkin

1 c. brown sugar

2 large eggs.

Oven at 350. Butter and flour your loaf pan.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium-low. Add sage and cook about 8 min., until butter is browned. Strain into a bowl and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

In another bowl, whisk pumpkin, sugar, eggs and browned butter. Add flour mixture until incorporated. Pour into pan and smooth the top.

Bake about 55 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 min., then take out of pan to cool completely.


This is good with your coffee in the morning or with a dollop of whipped cream after dinner. We are big quick-bread fans in this house, and Jesse likes to buy the pumpkin bread at Krankie’s. I think he’ll now just bug me to make it every time he gets a hankering.

Yum! Enjoy, friends. xoxo

Pumpkin-bourbon bread pudding with maple cream

Cobbled pumpkin goodness

Cobbled pumpkin goodness

Pumpkin Challenge No. 6!!! Are you guys getting tired of this yet? We only have a couple more to go, and my waistline would like to thank me for that fact. Why does pumpkin always have to be in the most rich, fattening recipes?

Alas, fattening = delicious. This is a recipe that I got from Smitten Kitchen. Although this time I made it, I used fresh brioche from Ollie’s Bakery. It was a hugely awesome change. That dense, eggy bread all baked in a custard … heaven. I also left the crusts on for added color, and because I’m too old to be cutting off my crusts (remember that, mom?).

Ollie's brioche

Ollie's brioche

I also put way too much bourbon in. Probably 1/4 c. instead of the 2 T that they recommend. But I thought, we bought all this Maker’s Mark…why waste it? I would recommend holding off, because it can be really strong. Not the worst thing to happen, but still.

SK originally got this recipe from Gourmet (RIP).


1 c. heavy cream plus 1/2 c. whole milk

3/4 c. canned pumpkin

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs plus 1 yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

Pinch ground cloves

2 T bourbon

5 cups cubed day-old bread (3/4 loaf for me)

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted.


Preheat oven to 350 with rack in the middle.

In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and bourbon.

In another bowl, toss the bread with butter. Add the pumpkin mixture and toss gently to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake until the custard is set, 25-30 min.

Dark parts are the brioche crusts

Dark parts are the brioche crusts

This can be served warm or cool. I whipped up a cup of heavy cream with a splash of maple syrup to put on top and I thought the maple was a nice addition. Reminded me of another recipe from the pumpkin challenge.

Brioche layers

Brioche layers

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Marbled pumpkin cheesecake


Taking a bite into this silken wonder, I am transported to a cozy kitchen with a turkey roasting in the oven, cranberry sauce bubbling on the stove and fresh rolls steaming on the counter.

The roasted nuttiness of the pecan-gingersnap crust, the bite of cream cheese and the wonderful smell of spiced pumpkin – These are the things that make this recipe my favorite in the Pumpkin Challenge. Here we are at #5 – a recipe I’ve had for years and that people seem to LOVE.

And I must say, the swirled top does give it a rather professional look…


Here’s the recipe:

1.5 c. crushed gingersnap cookies

1/2 c. chopped pecans

1/3 c. butter, melted

16 oz. cream cheese, room temp.

3/4 c. sugar, divided

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 c. canned pumpkin (I used the whole can)

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, mix cookies, pecans and butter. Press into a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, use and electric mixer to combine cream cheese, 1/2 c. sugar and vanilla. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well after each. Set aside 1 c. of mixture. Blend in 1/4 c. sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread pumpkin batter into the crust. Drop plain batter in spoonfuls. With a knife, swirl the two around to create a marbled effect.

Bake the cheesecake for 55 minutes, or until the custard is set (just barely wiggles in the center). Run a knife around the edge of the pan and let it cool before removing rim. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.


Yum Yum Yum. I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese on this, but whatever floats your boat. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Brownies with a pumpkin swirl

When chocolate attacks

When chocolate attacks

Sometimes, you have one of those days when you accidentally put twice as much butter in a recipe as it calls for. Oh, and then you put in too much chocolate. Yeah, Pumpkin Challenge #4 is the result of these amateur’s errors.

You can find the recipe here. I’m not going to post it because…you probably don’t want to make what I made. Not that it tasted bad – quite good, actually – it’s just bad for you.

I was surprised that the brownies actually came out brownie-like. Same texture, very chocolatey, nice and moist. The pumpkin was easily overwhelmed by the chocolate, though, but that was my bad.

Still, they are pretty and a nice rich treat that will inspire you to run a mile.

Enjoy, chocoholics! xoxo


Pumpkin-ginger waffles

Pumpkin challenge No. 3!

A sweet brunch

A sweet brunch

I found this recipe in Country Living. It takes less than 30  minutes to make and is surprisingly healthy, according to the nutritional info in the magazine. I also like this recipe because it only uses 1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree, which is all I had left. The original recipe includes chopped up crystallized ginger, but I decided that I didn’t need it. It is still QUITE gingery without those chewy pieces.


1 1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/4 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree (about half a can)

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Get out your waffle iron and heat it.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla. Whisk in flour mixture until combined. Stir in butter.

Scoop about 1/2 c. of the batter into the waffle iron and cook to your desired doneness. Keep the finished waffles in the oven at 200 degrees to stay warm.

With these, I browned up patties of chicken Italian sausage that was 50% off at Harris Teeter’s a while back. Horray for the discount meat bin! The sausage was a nice addition to the waffles, which totally smelled like pumpkin pie. They weren’t too pumpkiny, but were more spiced tasting.

Both Jesse and I  really, really liked the waffles. They were very sweet, especially with all the maple syrup we poured over them. You’ll definitely need a glass of cold milk to wash it down, and this recipe made enough for two mornings’ worth of breakfast (stretching those $$$).

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Pumpkin ice cream sandwiches

Like a pumpkin-spice latte in dessert form!

Like a pumpkin-spice latte in dessert form!

So far on the pumpkin challenge (my one-person challenge to make a new pumpkin recipe each week from now until Halloween), I’ve made the chocolate-pumpkin tart. Recipe No. 2, also courtesy of Martha, is her pumpkin ice cream sandwiches.

I must say that I’m continually impressed by my ice cream-making skills since I moved to The South. I don’t know if I’m just choosing better recipes or the milk is creamier here, but the ice cream always comes out thicker, almost frothy, and so, so smooth.

However, I did have some hiccups. Let me chart out this multi-day baking experience:

Day one: I made the ginger-molasses cookies. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I made the dough one night when I had the time. They needed to chill overnight.

Day two: I got up early after a late night at The Opera House (dive bar in W-S) so I could bake the cookies and make the dulce de leche, which you need for the ice cream. Dulce de leche takes two hours to cook (sweetened condensced milk stirred over a double-boiler).

My rental oven bit back by burning the entire bottom sheet of cookies = trash. Luckily, I had 12 perfect cookies on the top sheet. I just love that gingerbread smell…


Finally, I decided that the dulce de leche was done. It had been cooking about 160 minutes.


Next, and this is still day 2, I made the ice cream custard, which included heating, cooling, reheating, then mixing milk, cream, cinnamon, eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and cloves. And the dulce de leche. I poured the custard into what I would soon realize was only a partially-frozen ice cream bowl (fail). I poured the custard out of it and put the ice-cream thing back in the freezer.

Later that night and after another five-hour experience (pot roast), I thought the ice cream thing would be ready….it got part of the way there, but then melted again. Fail! For those who don’t have an ice cream machine, here’s what: you need to freeze the mixing container that you pour the custard into. When it spins, the custard freezes evenly. But you need to freeze that thing at least 24 hours, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate.

Day three: After work, I attacked the ice cream situation again. This time: success! After the ice cream firmed up in the freezer, I scooped it, sandwiched it between the ginger cookies and froze everything again.

The ginger cookies taste like a gingersnap crust for a pumpkin pie or something. I like that crunchy texture with the creaminess of the ice cream. Watching Top Chef has taught me that dishes should have complimentary textures, so I think this is a win.

Until I noticed that the container holding my ice cream was covered in cat hair. How does she do it??!?

Kitty, eyeing the rainbows on the wall

Kitty, eyeing the rainbows on the wall

Spooky chocolate pumpkin tart


Okay, so I know that Halloween is more than a month away. But darnit if those grocery-store magazines with all their fall/Halloween promos didn’t snare me. So now my coffee table has Martha Stewart, Country Living, Southern Living, Pottery Barn and Rachael Ray. All in orange, black and white.

A girl has to be prepared, right? This way, I’ll know which dishes to make and how to make them better by the holiday.

So, on to Martha Stewart. Her Halloween issue is one of my favorites because she always goes crazy. One recipe (among many) interested me: her chocolate-pumpkin tart. It took me around six hours, but I made it. And it is yummy nummy. The hardest part was finding canned pumpkin puree that is NOT pumpkin-pie filling. I finally found some, but it had to be organic, costing $3 a can! I had most of the other ingredients and used my turkey eggs, which worked great.

The most time-consuming part of this recipe was the baking/chilling time. The actual cooking part was easy, it just took a lot of steps. As a result, I’m not going to post the recipe here. It would take almost as much time as cooking the dang thing!

It starts out with a chocolate crust that you make with butter, cinnamon, cloves and cocoa powder (and salt, flour, sugar). You make it, chill it, roll it out, chill it again, then bake. Once that bakes, you sprinkle chopped chocolate over it, which melts nicely.


Chocolate on chocolate

Chocolate on chocolate


Next, you make a custard with creme fraiche (I used sour cream), eggs, brown sugar and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves). Pour that over the crust and bake until set. Then you have to chill it before you make the spider-web pattern. For the web, I melted more chocolate and piped the pattern free-hand. Instead of adding plastic spiders to decorate like Martha, I piped my own little chocolate spider in the corner. I love the effect! Totally worth the tendinitis I now have in my left hand.


Then you have to chill it again, for about an hour (we watched “Mad Men”). This will make the chocolate design set like a shell. When you cut in, you get the spicy crust, then a layer of chocolate, then the pumpkin custard, then more chocolate on top. It was very chocolatey, like a pumpkin pie dipped in chocolate.


Layers of goodness

Layers of goodness

I think this tart would be great to bring to a Halloween party because it looks so festive. And it feels good to make something so pretty. Friends, don’t wait until the holidays to make delicious treats – you can always make more later. Enjoy!