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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner

By Sherrie Norris

It’s a sure bet that most cooks who are preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year already have their menus planned and are starting to stock the pantry shelf with ingredients needed for the big day. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at ways to make your day less stressful and give you more time to focus on the blessings of life, instead of the burdens. What better way to start than with desserts?

Pumpkin Orange Cheesecake


¾ cup graham cracker crumbs

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted


2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

½ cup regular, low-fat or nonfat ricotta cheese

¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1½ cups pumpkin

3 Tbsp. orange juice

2 Tbsp. evaporated milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. grated orange peel

3 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. orange juice

Crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese, ricotta cheese and sugar until creamy. Add pumpkin, 3 Tbsp. orange juice, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add eggs and beat just until blended. Pour into crust.

Topping: Combine sour cream, sugar and orange juice in small bowl.

Bake cheesecake mixture for 60 to 65 minutes or until edges are set, but center still moves slightly. Cool in pan to room temperature on wire rack; spread with topping. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of spring form pan. Store in refrigerator.


Cranberry Crumb Bars


2½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

½ cup ground slivered almonds

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup cold butter

1 egg

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon


4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

4 tsp or orange juice

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.

In large bowl mix flour, 1 cup sugar, almonds, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs. Press 2½ cups crumb mixture into bottom of pan. Stir cinnamon into remaining crumb mixture. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix filling ingredients. Spoon evenly over crust.

Spoon reserved crumb mixture evenly over filling layer.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until top is light brown. Cool completely; refrigerate until chilled. Cut into squares; store in covered dish in refrigerator.


Frozen Creamy Pumpkin Pie

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup packed brown sugar

6 Tbs. butter, melted


1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow cream

¼ cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 lg. carton (12 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter. Press onto bottom and up sides of a greased 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling, in a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, marshmallow cream, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in 3½ cups whipped topping. Spoon into prepared crust. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours or until firm. Top with remaining whipped topping when ready to serve.


Pumpkin Squares


1½ cups quick cooking oats

1¼ cups flour

¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

¾ cup butter, room temperature


2 cups pumpkin puree (16 oz. can)

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

Combine ingredients for crust; beat until crumbly. Reserve about 1½ cups of mixture and set aside; press remaining mixture into a lightly buttered 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

With mixer, beat filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Spread filling over crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Return to oven and bake 25 minutes longer. Cool and cut into bars.