Friday, October 14, 2011

All things pumpkin

Fall is here with the promise of good things. This time of year simply makes me happy. Not just the air turning crisp and cool. Not just nature's colorful show of beautiful fall foliage. Not just the anticipation of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Mostly because everywhere we look we see the most beloved autumnal symbol. The pumpkin.
All lined up and waiting to decorate your home for the fall season.
I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin-licious everything makes fall a favorite season. Okay, I admit, I love all the seasons. The changing seasons are just one thing I love about Pennsylvania. As soon as you tire of one, it's time for the next and all that it brings. But that's another story. Today we're talking about pumpkins and fall.

Fall magazine covers cry my name every year. Purchase me, purchase me, they say. After a turkey on the cover, pumpkins are the next reason I'd be tempted to buy a magazine. Sounds silly, I know, but pumpkins hold the promise and flavor of the season for me and the potential for new delicious ways to enjoy a favorite ingredient.

So tempting to see such a display.
Pumpkin is so versatile and satisfies when it's both savory and sweet. You can never go wrong with pumpkin pie for dessert or a late-night snack. And it's great for breakfast, too, especially on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

But I get ahead of myself when I think about food. Pumpkins first make the scene in early September. On first appearance in the market, I need to start my seasonal collection. I like to start with some mini pumpkins for my mantel, my desk at work, and to place strategically through the house. Of course, we can never forget some big ones for the front doorstep and by the fireplace.

And I always enjoy filling an old amber glass compote mom bought me years ago at a stand in Lancaster Amish country with some colorful and oddly shaped gourds for texture and visual appeal on the tablescape in the foyer. So welcoming to see as we pass through that space.

Baby pumpkins are so cute.
Yes, pumpkins are an important decoration to get me in a fall state of mind. Who doesn't love our family tradition of the annual trip to the local farms for October festivities, including the hayride to the pumpkin patch? My adult children still insist on the yearly adventure and what mom and pop would say no to that kind of pumpkin fun? Not me or hubby, for sure.

Certainly my two daughters have inherited my love of pumpkin. All three of us get excited to see the annual return of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. Always better to dip our pumpkin cream cheese scones or some cakey-delicious homemade pumpkin chocolate chip cookies like the ones we enjoyed just this past week.

Also in my quest to satisfy pumpkin cravings, I love to search for new recipes to try. Decadent pumpkin cheesecake always delivers, so I enjoy making that around Thanksgiving. Results of a recent search have me thinking I want to try this season the pumpkin pie creme brulée I found on Just reading the recipe satisfies as I imagine the creamy custard topped with burnt crispy sugar. Oh my.

This girl surely loves a good recipe, but it's also okay when I'm too lazy to cook or bake from scratch since I'm just as fine with popping, say, my frozen Trader Joe's pumpkin mousse in the oven. I found that after an intense workday, I'm not such a food snob and will eat anything store-bought if the ingredients are top-notch. I've told you before that this is why Trader Joe's is a favorite for me and the family. TJ's seasonal offerings always satisfy and fall is no exception.

As I check online at and peruse TJ's Fearless Flyer that hubby brought home the other day, I see other pumpkin products we know and love. They've also got pumpkin bread and muffin mix on the shelf for when I need a quick fix and don't have the energy to make a mess in the kitchen. 

For our nightly ice cream habit, we can't forget our favorite smooth, rich and creamy Pilgrim Joe's pumpkin ice cream with a just-right blend of seasonal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of cloves. Top off some warm pumpkin bread, fresh from the oven, and that's just some down-home comfort in a bowl.

A beautiful display at a local farm.
New last year to our fall repertoire is TJ's pumpkin cream cheese, which is also oh so good. It's a creamy and whipped taste of heaven as an excellent spread on bagels, and even better for dipping ginger cookies or spiced wafers.

And on the back page of the October flyer, Trader Joe is now offering, while supplies last, Pumpkin Spice Coffee, spiked with actual spices, not artificial ingredients. The 100% Brazil Cerrado Arabica beans are roasted and infused with orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla beans, and all natural pumpkin spice flavor. This "official beverage of pumpkin season" is described as a low-cal slice of pumpkin pie in a cup. I'm sure you know what will be in my cart this week at TJ's!

Now I'll admit that the pumpkin fare I've described this far is all sweet, but I have to say that savory pumpkin works well for me also. Let it be noted that my dinner choice is made if I see pumpkin ravioli on a restaurant menu.

And last year I debuted pumpkin lasagna with sausage, fresh basil, zucchini, and ricotta for Thanksgiving to add some Italian flair to the bounty on the table. The dish was enjoyed by all and so the recipe is surely a keeper that will be repeated.

Fairytale designer pumpkins are just fun.
Now that I have all you pumpkin lovers salivating and dreaming about your next pumpkin foray, I'll share with you a favorite pumpkin bread recipe:

Therese's Pumpkin-licious Quick Bread (makes 2 loaves)

Mix together:
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sugar (or less to taste)
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil (I sometimes substitute applesauce)
1½ tsp. salt

Then add:
1 cup pumpkin (canned is just fine) Note: My name's not Martha.
⅓ cup water
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups flour

Pour evenly into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350°. Test for doneness with cake tester or toothpick.

Mm-mmm good! I also like to divide the batter between mini loaf pans for gift-sized loaves to send home with guests after a fall dinner party. Your friends will remember and love you as they enjoy their own pumpkin adventure the next day at breakfast. As Martha would say, it's a good thing.

So I'm hoping I got you excited about some pumpkin potential this season and you think of me every time you see the plump gourd-like squash in your travels. Remember, you too can have a pumpkin-licious life with all things pumpkin.

Until next time, yours in fun and the pumpkin patch...Therese 

1 comment:

  1. PS. This morning I stocked up on all the great pumpkin items at Trader Joe's mentioned above and found a few more I had forgotten about. How could I forget pumpkin butter! And I also scooped up a great pumpkin cheesecake they sell in the freezer section. Got some great gourds and a pie pumpkin, a fresh-baked pumpkn pie, and interesting "pumpkin tree" branches in the floral section. Today was definitely a pumpkin-licious day shopping at Trader Joe's!