Put your pumpkin where your mouth is

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving approaching, pumpkins are still everywhere we look. Pumpkin is versatile. It can be used in sweet desserts or in savory dishes, such as the two I have chosen here today. When purchasing pumpkin, be sure to read the label to get what you want. Solid pack pumpkin is just pumpkin and you add to it what you want. Pumpkin pie mix has spices already added to it, which you would not want to use in these two soup recipes. Just be sure to read the label so you are not disappointed in the result.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups chicken broth

2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

2 teaspoons chili powder

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion and yellow pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

Pumpkin Chicken Chowder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 ounces chicken breasts, cubed

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin

1/2 to 1 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup uncooked rice

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in a stockpot. Add chicken, onion, red pepper and garlic. Cook until chicken is done. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Basmati Rice with Dried Fruits and Nuts

Basmati rice is delicious and can be found in any grocery store. This dish is really flexible because you can substitute just about any dried fruit or nuts for those listed.

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 small yellow onion, minced

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup apricot halves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions until clear. Rinse rice well and drain, then add to the onions with 3 1/2 cups water and all other ingredients except the pecans. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes and check. Continue to cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Toss in the pecans, and transfer into a serving dish.

Barbecue No-Meat Loaf

This vegetarian entree offers all of the flavor and protein of a ground beef loaf and is so delicious you won't even miss the meat.

1/2 cup lentils, rinsed

1 1/2 cups washed, diced potatoes

2 cloves pressed garlic

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1 cup diced onions

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Cover the lentils, potatoes, garlic and sage with water and cook until soft, stirring continuously near the end of cooking until the lentils are almost dry (approximately 45 minutes) then drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the lentil mixture with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce, onions, carrots, nuts and bread crumbs. Mix well and press into a 9-by-5-inch non-stick loaf pan. Make an indentation down the middle of the loaf and pour the remaining barbecue sauce on. Bake for 45 minutes or until set, then cool until able to slice.

Candy Corn Crispy Treats

Jodi Thompson of Jackson sent me this recipe last fall and I have kept it for this year to pass along to you.

3 tablespoons butter

1 (10 ounce) package large marshmallows

6 cups crispy rice cereal

1 cup candy corn

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in rice cereal until evenly coated. Add candy corn and stir gently just until candy is mixed in. Spoon mixture into baking dish and press down with spatula. Drizzle melted chocolate over top. Let cool then cut into bars. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Pumpkin Pecan Bites

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) spice cake mix

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

3 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

36 pecan halves, cut into halves

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, oil, cinnamon, baking soda and cloves. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Fill paper-lined miniature muffin cups two-thirds full. Press a pecan piece into each. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. In a small bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and mix well. Add enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Yield: about 6 dozen.

Note: This recipe can be prepared in 2 dozen regular-size muffin cups. Bake for 22-26 minutes.

Have a great week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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