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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: From the Pumpkin Patch to the Kitchen

By Sherrie Norris

With just a few more days remaining in the month of October, pumpkin patches are offering one of the season’s favorite ornamentals. Is it a vegetable, a fruit or simply a big round gourd? The answer often depends on who you ask. But one thing we know for sure, during the days leading up to Halloween, the mighty pumpkin is used primarily for decoration as a jack-o’-lantern and can take on multiple personalities at the tip of the carving knife.

For several weeks now, the grocery aisles have been featuring pumpkin in various forms for a variety of seasonal baking and cooking opportunities. Between now and Thanksgiving, especially, many of us cooks will likely try our hand at something with a little touch of pumpkin thrown in for good measure. Just because we can and it’s expected, right? Let’s enjoy those fall favorites while we can.


Pumpkin Soup

2 lb. fresh pumpkin, peeled, cut into chunks, seeds removed

3 cups milk or half-and-half, scalded

1 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. salt

Dash of nutmeg

Steam the pumpkin until tender; mash or puree. Stir into the hot milk; stir the remaining ingredients. Heat through and serve immediately.

Serves 6.


Pumpkin Lush

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

2 Tbs. sugar

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

2 (8 oz.) containers whipped topping, thawed

2 small packages (3.4oz) of Jell-O Instant Pumpkin Spice Pudding

3 cup cold milk

Nutmeg for sprinkling


Combine butter, flour, chopped pecans and sugar; press into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 1 ½ cups whipped topping until smooth. Spread over crust.

Mix pudding mix with cold milk, whisking for several minutes. Set in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining container of whipped topping. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated.


Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 box yellow cake mix

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

4 eggs

1 large can (3 cups) solid pack pumpkin

1 cup sugar, divided

½ cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1½ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup butter or margarine, softened


Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Reserve 1 cup of the dry cake mix. In small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. In large bowl, stir together remaining cake mix, melted butter and beaten egg. Press into prepared pan.

In large bowl, lightly beat remaining 3 eggs. Stir in pumpkin, ½ cup of the sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk and cinnamon.

Pour over cake mixture in pan.

To the 1 cup of reserved cake mix, add remaining ½ cup sugar, walnuts and softened butter; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or cool.


Creamy Pumpkin Pie


1 cup finely chopped pecans

½ cup finely chopped gingersnaps

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter or margarine, softened


1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 quart vanilla ice cream, slightly thawed

In a bowl, combine pecans, gingersnaps, sugar and butter; mix well. Press in a 9-inch pie pan; bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat next six filling ingredients. Stir in ice cream and mix until well blended.

Spoon into crust and freeze until firm at least 2 or 3 hours. Leave in freezer until ready to serve.