The Great Pumpkin
Our Facebook fans dish on Jack.


By Brack Johnson


When Carolina Woman asked the magazine's Facebook fans for their most delish pumpkin recipes, we received lots of fresh stuff that went beyond good ol' pumpkin pie. Here are the best of the best.


Pumpkin Crackers

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups sesame seeds, hulled
1/3 cup water (may use less)
One (8 ounce) block cream cheese
1/2 cup apricot preserves


Heat oven to 375 degrees.


In blender, pulse to combine pumpkin seeds, salt and garlic. Add sesame seeds and pulse to combine. Add water 2 tablespoons at a time, checking for when the mixture clumps together.

Pumpkin Risotto

2 cups cubed pumpkin
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 of a medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 cups Arborio
(Italian short-grain) rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for spraying
Parmesan cheese (optional)


Spray oil on a baking sheet. Spread cubed pumpkin evenly on the baking sheet. Add salt and pepper. Spray oil over the top briefly. Cook in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender and caramelized.


In a deep pan, add oil at medium heat. Add onions and all spices. As they sweat, add rice and mix the rice to coat lightly with oil. Add pumpkin from baking sheet.


Stir constantly while adding broth and wine in 1/2 cup increments as the moisture is absorbed. Cook until creamy.


Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.


Easy Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Dash cayenne pepper
2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds


In a small bowl, combine oil, celery salt, garlic powder,
cayenne pepper and seasoned salt. Add pumpkin seeds; toss to coat.

Spread a quarter of the seeds in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 2-3 minutes longer or until seeds are crunchy and lightly browned, stirring after each minute.

Repeat with remaining pumpkin seeds. Serve warm. Can also be stored in an airtight container - just cool them first.


Curried Pumpkin Soup

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)


Place garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add onion and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. Place jalapeno in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add celery and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. Place carrots in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add jalapeno, celery and carrots, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, bay leaf, curry, turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for about 30 seconds, shaking pan constantly to prevent burning, until all the seeds have popped. Remove from heat and add parsley.

Place 2 cups of the cooked vegetables and about 1/2 cup of the liquid in the bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth. Stir puree back into the soup. Adjust seasonings, and stir in the sour cream, if desired. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.


Spicy Pumpkin Cavatelli

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 pounds ripe pumpkin - peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds cavatelli or other small pasta shells
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, plus more for serving. (Using good quality cheese makes a difference in this dish!)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and onion are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is tender (not al dente but not mushy), about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the cavatelli to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.


Add the cavatelli to the mixture in the skillet, then stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and toss gently to combine. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir gently; add a little more pasta water as necessary.

Serve the pasta right away, passing more cheese at the table.


Pumpkin-Filled Cannelloni With Sage Brown Butter

1 1/2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage, plus 4 large whole leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 package (8 ounces) oven-ready lasagna sheets
6 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pumpkin, along with 3/4 cup water, in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and steam until tender, 20 minutes.


Remove to a medium bowl and mash until smooth.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet and saute garlic until golden. Transfer garlic to a mortar and pestle, then crush to a paste. Stir cheeses, chopped sage, salt, pepper and garlic paste into mashed pumpkin. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook lasagna sheets until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.

Liberally brush a medium baking dish with oil. Place a lasagna sheet on a clean work surface. Add 4 tablespoons pumpkin mixture to center of lasagna, roll into a cannelloni tube, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining sheets.

Pour reserved pasta water over lasagna and cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and pasta is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cook butter and sage leaves in small skillet over medium-high heat until golden-brown. Drizzle over pumpkin cannelloni and serve immediately.


Pumpkin Dessert Pierogies

This recipe makes about 60 pierogies, plenty for a holiday party or get-together. If you're making these for your family or a small get-together, you might want to halve this recipe or freeze half the pierogies. To freeze, after you've stuffed the pierogies, but before you boil them, put them on a cookie sheet and transfer to your freezer. After they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. When you're ready to serve them, take them from the freezer and immediately put them to the boil, cooking until they float, just like the unfrozen pierogies.


For the dough:
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
plus additional for rolling
16 ounces sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
For the filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
One 14 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Butter for frying pierogies
Powdered sugar for dusting


For the dough: Whisk eggs and sour cream together. Add flour and salt. Work together with your hands, like a biscuit dough, kneading in the bowl, until the flour is incorporated in the dough.

Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

For the filling: Combine all ingredients for filling and mix well. Set aside.

Back to the dough: Take 1/2 the dough and place on a very lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and top of the dough. Roll dough out until it is very thin, 1/6 inch. You may have to add additional flour to keep dough from sticking while rolling.

Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut out the circles in the dough. The dough will probably be stuck to the table at this point. Take a wide spatula or bench scraper, and wiggle it under the dough circles to get it off. Do this very carefully.


Now that your dough is on your scraper, turn the dough upside down in your hand or on the counter, so that the part you were rolling is down and the sticky side is up. Play with the dough a little if you need to adjust the circle back to size, then add about a teaspoon of the filling. Fold the dough over and press it with your fingers to close, being careful not to tear the dough. Place pierogies on a cookie sheet.

For cooking: Fill a large soup pot with water. Salt the water. Bring to a boil. Vertically drop about 10 pierogies in the boiling water at a time. Don't let them flop in horizontally and splatter boiling water.

When they float up to the top, they're done. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Then return to a cookie sheet.

Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large skillet and melt. Add a single layer of pierogies. Over medium low heat, brown pierogies on each side, and remove from pan. If butter starts to burn, clean pan between batches. Add fresh butter between batches if needed.

Dust with powered sugar.


Pumpkin Custard Dream

1 can solid pack pumpkin
1 1/2cups (12 ounces) evaporated skim milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Whipped cream to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare eight 6-ounce baking cups with a light coating of cooking spray. Arrange the cups in a shallow baking pan.
Whirl all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the custard into the cups. Pour boiling water into the pan to a depth of 2 inches.

Bake about 45 minutes or more, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cups from the hot water and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

To serve, remove from refrigerator and top each dish with whipped cream.


Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 package instant butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup whipped topping
Graham crackers, crushed, to taste


In a large bowl, whisk the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes, or until soft set. Combine the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and allspice; fold into pudding. Fold in 1/2 cup whipped topping.

Transfer to small serving dishes. Refrigerate until serving.

To serve, place remaining whipped topping and crushed graham crackers on top of each dish.


Cinnamon Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins are good and so are their numbers. Each one contains 3 g fiber, but only 150 calories, 220 mg sodium, 6 g fat and no saturated fat.


1 banana, mashed
1 cup cooked (or canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil and 1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
3 tablespoons flaxseed and 9 tablespoons hot water
1 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup quick cooking or rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon


For the topping:
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons oats


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.


Mix flax seed and hot water in a small bowl first; let sit for a few minutes until a gooey consistency is reached.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together banana, pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add flaxseed mixture to the wet mixture and blend well. Then stir dry mixture into wet mixture, just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 2-3 minutes, then remove from pan carefully and cool on a wire rack.


Pumpkin Chocolate Bites

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cup nonfat plain organic yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups organic unbleached sifted flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Position rack in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.

Whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, yogurt, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in chips.


Stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, allspice and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet with a wooden spoon, mixing just until blended. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.


Chocoloate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

We found the base to this recipe years ago and have since made many wonderful changes to it, such as adding bourbon and milk and improving the crust. We use fresh local pumpkin or delicata squash (an oblong winter squash) - either way, it is delicious!


1 1/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups light brown sugar or 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses and 1 cup Demarara (coarse brown) sugar
3 eggs
1 cup pureed roasted fresh pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Burnt Honey Bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/4 cups prepared cream cheese icing


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and 1 3/4 cups light brown sugar or molasses/Demerara sugar mix. Beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating slowly after each until combined. Beat in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, Bourbon and salt just until combined. Remove 1 1/4 cups of the mixture.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the 8 ounces chocolate and the 2 tablespoons butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted, then add milk and whisk chocolate mixture again, and add to 1 1/4 cups pumpkin mixture. Pour over crust, spreading evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.

Use the remaining pumpkin mixture to evenly cover baked chocolate layer. Bake for 45 minutes until center is set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Top with thin layer of cream cheese icing, cut into shapes and eat up!

We also like to top with cinnamon and white chocolate shavings.