2013-10-04 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Pumpkins on parade
By Connie Wendell
Special contributor

For the past several weeks, as I take my daily walk with my dog, Faith, I cannot help but notice on almost every door step or walkway, the multitude of mums and pumpkins. The myriad of colors is truly breathtaking. What gorgeous fall colors.

It also brings to mind my son Tom’s love of pumpkin and all the wonderful recipes I have collected over the years.

In keeping with the theme of Cooking on Purpose, cooking from scratch is healthier and less expensive and cooking with pumpkin is no exception. Whether you cook with canned pumpkin or cook and mash your own, pumpkins are economical, have a delightful flavor and they are loaded with beta carotene and fiber, a very healthy choice.

Pumpkin pancakes

I cook these on Christmas morning and they are a big hit.

1 cup all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon light brown sugar; 1 egg; 3/4 cup milk; 1/2 cup pumpkin; 1 tablespoon canola oil; and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

In large sifter, place flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; sift into large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together egg, milk, pumpkin and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring with rubber spatula to combine. Do not over mix.

Drop by spoonful onto preheated non-stick griddle or skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbles appear on surface. Turn once, cook on other side. Serve immediately. Makes 10, 5-inch pancakes.

Pumpkin cheesecake

This is a slight diversion from the traditional pumpkin pie, but that is the only “slight.” This cheesecake really packs a whollop of pumpkin flavor complemented with the creaminess of the cheese.

Crust: 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs; 3 tablespoons sugar; 3 tablespoons melted butter; and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Filling: 2 (8 ounces each) packages of cream cheese, softened; 1 cup half and half or whipping cream; 1 cup canned pumpkin; 1/4 cup sugar; 4 eggs, separated; 3 tablespoons flour; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger; 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg; and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Topping: 1 cup sour cream; 2 tablespoons sugar; and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Combine crust ingredients; press into bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese with cream, pumpkin, sugar, egg yolks, flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla, spices and salt. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the pumpkin mixture. Spoon batter onto to crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Combine topping ingredients; spread over cheesecake and bake 5 minutes longer. Chill thoroughly before serving and store leftovers in the fridge.

Cooking tip: To keep your cheesecake from cracking, run a knife around the edge as soon as it comes out of the oven. This will allow the sides to pull away freely from the pan as the cake cools and contracts, leaving the center intact.

Pumpkin cookies

These cookies are a soft cookie and taste just as pumpkiny and spicy as pumpkin pie.

1/2 cup shortening; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; 1 cup mashed pumpkin; 2 cups flour;

1 tablespoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon ginger; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg; 1 tablespoon molasses; and 1/3 cup raisins (optional).

Cream together shortening and sugar; add wellbeaten eggs, molasses and pumpkin. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix until well blended. Add raisins, if desired. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Pumpkin smoothie

This makes a delicious quick breakfast or a very nourishing snack.

1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt; 1/2 cup peeled, chopped apples; 1/2 cup pumpkin puree; 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; and 4 ice cubes.

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.

And now you are all set to make those delicious pumpkin recipes. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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