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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Penne with Pumpkin Ricotta Sauce

If you are going to add pumpkin to a recipe I think that it has to make sense, serve a purpose and work well with the entire dish.  As I've written over this past month, there are lots of ways to use pumpkin in cooking, many of which enhance baked goods, lower the fat, add fiber and vegetables and stretch ingredients.  I could also write recipes to toss in the old pumpkin just because you could; adding it to tomato sauce (check!); adding it to soups and stews (check, check) and adding it to your morning hot cereal (um, yep did that too).  I've been mulling a few ideas that I haven't gotten around to making, pumpkin biscotti; pumpkin vegan pudding, using tofu; pumpkin frappaccinos (I'm in the process of making that as I write this, waiting on the coffee mixture to freeze before blending).  Anyway, today's recipe is yet another variation on a theme of mine.  Partly inspired by a Martha Stewart idea, and very much a work in progress that I've been varying over the years.  It is a healthy version of Fettucine Alfredo, lightened up.  While I would have loved to eat a big heaping plate of Pumpkin and Alfredo sauce, but it's no longer a part of my diet, too much cream, fat, butter.  I might as well od on Lipitor before I finished the plate.  Consider this more of  HUNGRY GIRL DECEPTIVELY DELICIOUS recipe with no faux ingredients and somewhat child friendly, provided you don't have too picky of an eater.  Rigatoni pasta would work well too, and feel free to use part-skim ricotta cheese if you cannot find/or don't like non-fat ricotta cheese.

Penne with Pumpkin and Ricotta Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 Pound Whole Wheat Penne
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas 
  • 1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach - defrosted and drained of excess liquid
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Small/Medium Onion - small dice (about 1/2 cup total)
  • 3 or 4 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 3 Fresh Sage Leaves - chopped
  • 3  FreshThyme Sprigs - stems removed (or use 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine (like a Chardonnay)
  • 1 Cup Non-Fat Ricotta
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Dash Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Goat Cheese - crumbled, for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. When it reaches a boil, add in two tablespoons of salt before adding the pasta to the water. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. One minute before the pasta is done, add in the frozen peas to defrost and cook through. 
  2. Before draining the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and peas and keep warm in the pasta pot; toss in the defrosted/drained chopped spinach.
  3. In large saute pan, heat the quarter cup of olive oil medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Add in the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions and garlic begin to to caramelize. Add in the Sage and Thyme and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Next, add the white wine to the saute pan, raise heat to high and reduce the wine down until only a few tablespoons remain, about 5 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese and pumpkin puree. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and a few dashes of freshly grated nutmeg. Thin the mixture starting with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. If the ricotta and pumpkin mixture is too thick, thin it further with the addition of the pasta cooking water. Pour this mixture over the the pasta, peas and spinach, gently mixing to incorporate the ricotta mixture.
  6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with a garnish of crumbled goat cheese.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins

After that devastating Phillies loss of game six in the Pennant race last night, I think a bit of comfort food is in order.  Continuing on with my pumpkin recipes I'm sharing an oldie but a goodie, another terrific and unexpected use of pumpkin in baked goods.  I'm still working on some other pumpkin in savory food recipes but for tonight, enjoy this cornbread recipe and make a batch to have with my vegetarian pumpkin chili or to have with your morning pumpkin spice latte or coffee.  This recipe works well for a crowd - you can double, triple or quadruple it as needed.  I tripled the recipe and made 3 trays of mini muffins for Nate's birthday party last week, and had enough to make my Halloween shaped muffin cakes that were about the size of giant muffins.  Larger muffins take longer to bake so increase the baking time and keep your eye on the pans, rotating them every 15 minutes. 

Pumpkin Cornbread Ingredients:
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Cup Milk (your choice on full, low or non-fat)
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter - melted and cooled
  • 1 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 & 1/4 Cups Yellow or White Cornmeal
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease, spray or line with cupcake liners a 12 portion regular sized muffin tin.  If using a baking pan, 8-inch square or 9-inch round, spray or grease it.  Set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, melted and cooled butter and the pumpkin puree. 
  3. In another bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flower, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the cornmeal mixture is just mixed through; the batter should be a bit lumpy.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins or pan.  For muffins, bake 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cornbread muffin comes out clean with no wet batter clinging to it.  If baking in a pan, bake for 20 minutes, rotate pan and bake an additional 5 to 8 minutes, again until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out.  Cool enough to handle before cutting to prevent the  cornbread from falling apart.
  7. Makes 1 dozen muffins or 1 pan, serves up to 12.
  8. To reheat, cut the cornbread in half, butter each side and either toast in a skillet or in a toaster oven until crisped and browned - TASTY!  Extremely good with honey, or pumpkin maple syrup.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Curried Cauliflower w/ Cecci, and Tomato Pumpkin Sauce


The use of pumpkin is not limited to baked goods or breakfast meals.  I find the paring of vegetables, tomatoes and pumpkin to be a natural fit.  Sometime ago I made a Cauliflower, Chick Pea and Pumpkin Pesto dish that was extremely satisfying and vaguely Indian in flavor.  This time around I've made low-fat full-on Indian-inspired vegetarian/vegan side dish.  Pumpkin seeds add a bit of texture contrast to the dish.  You can substitute almonds or cashews, but using the pumpkin seeds keeps the "theme" alive.  To toast shelled pumpkin seeds - I use a microwave safe plate, microwaving them for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or just until they begin to smell nutty and fragrant.  To add in even more vegetables and make the dish even more interesting, you can also add in fresh or frozen spinach.  It may be easier to use frozen chopped spinach - add it in after the dish is almost done, and cook for an additional 10 minutes to thaw the spinach. Stir to incorporate and top with the pumpkin seeds or chopped toasted nuts.

Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas, Tomato and Pumpkin Ingredients:
  • 1 Large Head Cauliflower - cut into small florets
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Small Onion (about 1 cup) - small dice
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 Can Chick Peas/Garbanzo/Ceci Beans (14-16 ounces) - drained and rinsed
  • 2 Heaping Tablespoons Curry Powder - or more to taste
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce (or a 14-16 ounce can)
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach - optional
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds - toasted, optional or use nuts of choice
  1. Cook or steam the cauliflower florets in a large saute pan with about 2/3 cup water, until the cauliflower is fork tender and the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  When the cauliflower is cooked through, turn the heat to medium and add the oil to the pan and saute the florets until they begin to take on some color, 5 minutes.  Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower florets until they are caramelized - 45 to 60 minutes. Continue on with the recipe as directed.
  2. Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes then add in the minced garlic to the pan and sauté  another minute.  Add in the curry powder and saute for 30 seconds, to bloom the curry powder flavor.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce and the pumpkin puree, set aside.
  4. Add the chick peas to the saute pan and cook with the cauliflower florets until the chick peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the tomato sauce mixture into the saute pan and stir to combine with the cauliflower and chick peas.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Heat the mixture just until it begins to bubble/boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.  If using the chopped frozen spinach, add it in now and cook through to thaw and incorporate. When the spinach is cooked, remove from heat.  Top with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve hot immediately.
  6. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Serve over couscous or brown rice.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Multigrain Hot Cereal

Here's an idea more than a recipe per se.  Of the many, MANY pumpkin uses and ideas that I have, the easiest one is to simply add it to a hot multi grain cereal.  It's Weight Watcher sanctioned and just a darn good use of that big ole can of Libby's.  You get a healthy extra high fiber dose of a vegetable in your morning hot bowl of wholesome goodness and even better, you get twice the amount of porridge; the pumpkin adds volume without fat or bad for you calories.  And that's no bowl of curds and whey!  If Miss Muffett were eating this for breakfast that bad morning spider would have never sat down beside her causes she'd have enough to share!  This one is also good for the kiddies - My little Nibblet will be enjoying this for his first birthday big boy brunch!

Hot Cereal Ingredients/Ideas
Use one dry cup of the following or your favorite hot cooked breakfast mush:

  • Slow Cooking Oats
  • Multi grain Cereal (such as Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain)
  • Quick Cooking Oats
  • Cream of Rice or Wheat
  • Wheatina
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Light Butter (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk - heated 
  • Maple Syrup or Sweetener of Choice - to taste


  1. Cook the hot cereal according to package directions, adding the teaspoon of salt and the vanilla extract to the cooking water, then add in the dry grains.  
  2. Once the cereal is cooked stir in the pumpkin puree, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and butter, folding to incorporate and combine.  
  3. Serve hot with heated milk and maple syrup.
  4. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pumpkin Maple Syrup

And now for another installment of how to use pumpkin in every day cookery.  Pumpkin pancakes - homemade with real maple syrup and pumpkin puree.  It's a little bit of breakfast/brunch Autumnal Heaven topped off with what tastes like liquid pumpkin pie.  This is a must-make meal; easy, surprisingly light, healthy and oh, amazingly delicious.  The pancakes were made by using a squeeze bottle with a narrow tip opening.  I drew the outline of the pumpkin shape, stem and the body, then filled in the body using curved "stripes."  For jack o'lantern style, I drew the triangle eyes and nose and then the wavy mouth; next I drew the pumpkin outline around the face and filled in the body last.  No need to buy any pumpkin or Halloween shaped pancake molds. Save your money and spend it on a good quality real maple syrup.  This recipe makes a lot of pancakes - enough for 4 hungry people.  Feel free to cut it back by 1/3rd or by half.   This recipe is the lighter healthier version, I substituted whole wheat flour for most of the all-purpose; switched skim for the whole or 2% milk; took out the butter in the batter; the pumpkin adds a "secret" vegetable and additional fiber to the mix!

Pumpkin Pancake Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix or Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Eggs - Lightly beaten
  • 2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups Milk (I used skim, but whole, 2% or 1% is fine too)
  • 1 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • Butter or Spray for griddle pan


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, flours through the sugar, set aside.
  2. In another mixing bowl, whisk  together the eggs, vanilla, milk and pumpkin puree until the mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.  Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and fold/whisk to combine, stirring until no large lumps appear.  There should be a few small lumps, so don't over whisk the mixture.  Set aside and allow to sit for 20 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.  If mixture appears to be too thick and won't pour off of a ladle or spoon easily, thin it with additional milk.
  3. Preheat griddle pan over medium heat; spray with cooking spray or coat with butter.  Test a bit of batter to see if the griddle is hot enough.  When griddle is hot, pour batter onto it and wait until bubbles appear all over the surface of the pancakes then flip the pancakes over to cook the other side.  If using a squeeze bottle, draw the desired shape and fill in the center of the pancake body last.   Continue cooking as directed, until all the pancake batter is used.
  4. Serve hot, immediately with syrup or topping of choice.  Batter will hold for 2 days in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Cooked and covered pancakes will hold for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze them between layers of plastic wrap, parchment or waxed paper, placed into a freezer bag or food storage container.  To reheat, microwave pancakes in a single layer for 45 to 55 seconds.  For frozen pancakes, heat in a microwave for up to two minutes, in 30 second intervals.  Makes approximately 24 to 30 four to five inch sized pancakes.  
Pumpkin Maple Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Pumpkin Pure
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Pinch of Salt

  1. Combine all the ingredients together into a heat-safe or microwave-safe bowl.  Whisk together until the ingredients are smooth.  Heat mixture for 2 minutes in a microwave or in a sauce pot just until just before the mixture comes to a boil.  Whisk again to combine.  Serve hot over pumpkin pancakes.  
  2. Makes 1 and 1/4 cup of sauce.  Will hold for 1 week in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  
  3. Heat before re-serving and to emulsify the butter and the pumpkin.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream cheese Frosting

Deceptively Delicious meets the Cake Doctor for an Autumnal Cupcake Extravaganza!  In other words, it's time for this week's pumpkin recipe, a real switcheroo to make a ho-hum box cake mix into a lip smacking, tasty healthier  treat (or at least a little bit less of a guilty pleasure.)  So easy even caveman could make this, provided that the cave man or woman has a working oven, kitchen tools and some rudimentary baking knowledge.  Faster than you can say YABBADABBADO you too can whip up these cupcakes and surprise your friends and family with a nearly fat-free dessert tonight.

Pumpkin Cup Cakes with Pumpkin Creamcheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix (preferably dark chocolate)
  • 1 Whole Egg & 2 Egg Whites - beaten
  • 1 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee - cooled
  • 18 to 24 Cup cake liners
  • Cup Cake baking tray

For Frosting: 

  • 1/2 Package Low-fat Creamcheese - softened and brought to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter - softened and brought to room temperature
  • 1 Cup Powdered (10x) Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cup cake tray with cupcake liners (batch will make about 18 cupcakes in total).
  2. Use a large mixing bowl and combine the chocolate cake mix with the eggs, pumpkin puree and brewed coffee (if the coffee is hot, allow it to cool before adding to the mix).  Whisk to combine and beat for 2 minutes either by hand or with a hand mixer on medium speed.  
  3. Use an ice cream scoop with a spring load mechanism to fill the cup cake liners with the batter; fill each cupcake tray 2/3rds full.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes then rotate the tray and bake for another 10 minutes.  Test the cupcakes with a skewer to see if they are done in the middle - no wet batter should stick to the skewer/tester only be a few moist crumbs should stick to it.
  4. Cool for 5 minutes in the cupcake tray before turning out to completely cool the cupcakes on a rack.  Add the remaining liners to the tray and fill with the remaining cake batter to bake off the rest of the batch.  
  5. While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the frosting by combing the softened creamcheese and butter until throughly blended.  Whisk in the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract. 
  6. Next, fold in the pumpkin pie spice and the powdered sugar until the frosting is completely smooth and lump-free.  Chill the frosting to help it set up and become spreadable.
  7. Cupcakes can be frosted once they are completely cooled and the frosting has set up and thickened.  Makes at least 18 medium sized cupcakes. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

October is Pumpkin Month! Low-fat Pumpkin Bread Recipe

I'm starting off the month of October with a pumpkin recipe, one of my all-time favorite cooking ingredients.  I have been cooking extensively with pumpkin for several years. My hope is to revisit some older recipes and update them for healthier lighter eating as well as create several new recipes that highlight pumpkin as a main ingredient.  Occasionally I'll use pumpkin as a "toss-in" ingredient that can be included or not - such as when I add pumpkin to a pot of tomato sauce.  It can stretch a pot of sauce and adds body, texture and fiber, but little to no discernible taste.  As for today's recipe, it's a re-worked variation of my favorite go to banana bread recipe.   With a little tweaking, I've turned out a new muffin/loaf recipe into a super high fiber, low fat and extremely tasty any time treat.

Low-Fat Pumpkin Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Wheat Germ, Flax Seed Flour or Finely Crushed Bran-flake Style Cereal
  • 1/2 Cup Quick Cook Oatmeal Flakes
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or combination of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger & Allspice)
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light or Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Non-Fat Greek Style Plain Yogurt, or Regular Non-Fat Plain Yogurt, or Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce (or use one small individually sized container)
  • 2 Large Eggs or 1 Whole Egg and 1 Egg White (it depends on what you want- or of course, you could use egg substitute liquid)
  • 1 Can Plain Pure Pumpkin Puree (about 14 to 16 ounces)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • Optional add-ins: Walnuts or Pecans, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Peanut butter Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Use a 1 pound loaf pan or 3 small mini-loaf pans; butter/spray/grease the pan and coat thoroughly with flour, shaking out excess.  Set aside. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, wheat germ, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie seasoning. Set aside.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and the yogurt and applesauce and whisk to "cream" the sugar - incorporating the yogurt and applesauce with the sugar to dissolve the sugar. Mix in the eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  4. Gently fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir to combine. If the mixture appears too wet and loose, feel free to add in more oatmeal, wheatgerm or flax seed flour - by the quarter cup. The batter will be wet, not stiff but should not be too loose or liquidy.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s) and place it onto a baking/sheet tray. If adding in nuts and chips, scatter over the top of the batter and gently push down into the batter, submerging part-way. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate pan and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes total baking time (depending on the oven).
  6. Cool the pumpkin loaf in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing; Turn out and cool the loaf on a wire rack completely before serving.  If baking as muffins, makes 1 dozen standard size muffins, reduce baking time to 15 to 20 minutes.