Return of the Pumpkin

I mean, pumpkin is, after all, kind of like a Jedi of baking. Its Force pulls everybody in for a bite of cozy goodness and its seeds, roasted, are the lightsabers that ward off unsavory snacks.

Sorry, I’m done making lame food/Star Wars metaphors now. The point is, I still have pumpkin puree that I froze last fall, and I made somethin’ scrumptious. A friend pinned this pumpkin cheesecake recipe and I drooled just looking at it. You may be shaking your head at first glance – recipe from a website called “SkinnyTaste”?!

This recipe totally destroyed my skepticism about a “healthier” version of cheesecake. The vanilla greek yogurt made for a great thick yet fluffy cheesecakey texture, and I’ve never been able to tell the difference between full fat cream cheese and Neufchatel (1/3 less fat) stuff. My momma’s kitchen wisdom tells me that reduced fat stuff usually tastes just the same while completely fat free is almost always gross.

The only changes I made to this recipe were to the pumpkin butter to swirl in. I love pumpkin butter. It’s so smooth and creamy and cozy [I need to diversify my food adjectives…]. The combination of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon will always make me want to hunker down at home for the day, no matter the season.

I made just a cup worth of the pumpkin butter, instead of the 3 and some odd cups the recipe makes, so I only used 1 cinnamon stick and took it out after 10 minutes, which was plenty. If you’re outta cinnamon sticks, I think you could just put an extra dash of ground cinnamon in and call it good. Although it might be quicker to just buy pumpkin pie filling to swirl into the cheesecakes, I think the homemade goodness of the pumpkin butter would win. It’s a little smoother, thinner, and maybe not quite as sweet.

I’m callin’ this one a tri-yum-ph. Three little cheesecakes mysteriously disappeared right after I made these, and I was the only person around…hmm. I wonder whodunnit.

p.s. Here’s a little update on the mystery knit. A few hints: cotton yarn, cast on 306 sts. Any guesses yet?

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Soup a L’Orange

If I could quit my jobs and just make people things all the time, I’d be one happy camper. I visited Wooster a few weekends ago [I almost said, “to see Noah and my sister,” but that’s a gross understatement – it was great to see everyone!]. Before I came, my sister, who’s been having a weird time sorting out how she deals with lactose and soy, asked if I could make some squash soup to bring to her. UH. YES. I’d been meaning to make pumpkin soup of some sort, and there was a soup I made a while back that I wanted to try to replicate, if only I could remember what I used…

The soup I’d made in the past was an amalgamation of a recipe-surfing session. I looked at recipes for carrot/orange/ginger soup, and ended up making something along those lines that was warm and bright, with a little kick from the ginger. I found some of the recipes I looked at again, but alas, I couldn’t remember all the details I changed. Leslie’s [my sister] soup was going to be a guessing game.

If the soup needed to be lactose and soy free, so I figured it might as well be vegan, too.  The key ingredients I used were carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, orange, and ginger. The bright colors and creamy warmth were perfect to combat the dreariness of a windy February day.

So here it is, my very own pumpkin-carrot-orange-ginger soup.

Disregard the amounts of ingredients here - I made a double batch when I took the pictures.

  • 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree [canned or frozen, shouldn’t matter]
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed [I chose these for their sweetness and thickness instead of Idahos]
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 lbs carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 orange [juice and zest]
  • approx 2 ins grated ginger
  • 18 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1-2 c. almond milk [vanilla]
  • 1 rounded tsp. corandier
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic [approx 6 cloves]
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

I just really love orange zest.

In large pot, heat olive oil and add onion, carrots, garlic, and spices. Sautee until onions are translucent, about 3-4 mins. Add pumpkin, sweet potatoes, juice and zest of orange, grated ginger, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about half an hour or until sweet potatoes are soft and easily pierced by a fork.

Transfer soup to food processor in small batches and puree. After soup is entirely pureed, put back in pot, add almond milk, and simmer for 5 mins. Enjoy! If you’ve got ’em [I didn’t], croutons make a great sidekick to this soup. Because clearly, sidekicking for salads would suck balls.

Please, lemme know how it turns out, should you decide to make it! All feedback is welcome 🙂

Pumpkin Bread

Ok, so I know that I made all this fuss about how awesome pumpkins are, only to forget about ’em. Well, pumpkins are still awesome and I don’t care if they’re “outta season.” [Oh, right, that’s why I froze them.] In an effort to make up for the lack of food posts and neglect of pumpkin, I’mma post about them until…well, I have no idea. I won’t ever get sick of them. So maybe until I run out of frozen pumpkin.

Annnyway, I made pumpkin bread yesterday. I think I’ve eaten about half a loaf all by myself already. It’s a family recipe, so I essentially left it alone and just cut the sugar from 3 cups to 2, using brown sugar instead of the regular white stuff. Not a dangerous switch, especially because the molasses-y flavor from the brown sugar pairs well with punkin stuff. The recipe says nuts are optional, and the 9-year-old in me still scrunches up her nose and mumbles “yuck” to bread with nuts in it, so I ruthlessly banned them from the recipe like the cool kids exclude the geeks at school.

Ze recipe, pour vous [with my teensy adjustments]:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, & ginger
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups frozen pumpkin puree [canned is fine, too, if you don’t have as much time on your hands as I do]
Mix dry and wet ingredients separately.

Combine.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.

Bake 1 hour at 350*F. Let cool on wire rack. Devour. Potentially with ice cream.

Isn't it cool how the edges kinda folded up?

Verdict: Tri-yum-ph. [I make no excuses for my awful puns and love them anyway]