Pumpkin possibilities at Christmas

Pumpkin doesn’t go out the door with the first Christmas string of lights to go on the tree.

It is healthy and can be made into so many dishes that would go with holiday breakfast, lunch or dinner. And don’t forget cakes, puddings and cookies.

If you have a pumpkin lurking in the garage or a cool place, it will still be good to scoop out the insides.

Cut into sections, place in a 9-by-13-inch pan with the rind side up, pour in some water, cover with aluminum foil and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes until the pumpkin is soft enough to peel after it is cooled. Then put it in the blender or food processor until smooth. This is the puree you will use for the recipes.

Let’s start with a bisque that includes pumpkin puree and is 143 calories for a 2/3 cup serving.

It is from Cooking Light magazine and includes white beans to give the soup body. It can be made ahead of time, but do the pesto only shortly before serving so its color stays vibrant.

White Bean and Pumpkin Bisque with Sage Pesto

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped and divided

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 cup 2-percent reduced-fat milk

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1 tablespoon sage and garlic to pan. Saute 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add pepper and cumin; saute 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup stock; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine onion mixture, remaining 2 cups stock, beans and pumpkin in a blender; process until smooth. Return stock mixture to pan. Stir in milk and salt. Bring to a simmer; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoons sage, spinach and remaining ingredients in a mini-food processor, process until smooth. Ladle about 2/3 cup bisque into each of eight bowls. Top each serving with 2 teaspoons pesto.


Here is a pumpkin main dish that could be made for an evening when caroling or shopping will be keeping the family out later than usual.

Simply make this casserole, refrigerate and then remove upon arrival home. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes if it has been refrigerated and then broil on high for 1 to 2 minutes to lightly brown the topping.

Baked Pumpkin and Sausage Rigatoni

12 ounces uncooked Italian sausage, casings removed, mild or hot, your preference

1 tablespoon fresh sage

29-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin

1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk

4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons Asiago cheese

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound rigatoni

1/3 cup panko crumbs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add sausage to a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until browned, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Stir in sage and cook 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon; set aside. Pour off and discard drippings.

In same skillet, whisk pumpkin, milk, Neufchatel, egg yolks, 1 cup Asiago, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir over medium heat until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, cook rigatoni in boiling water, 1 minute less than package directions, about 9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to pot. Stir in sausage, pumpkin mixture and reserved pasta water. Mix well to combine. Transfer to a 13-by- 9-inch dish and top with panko and remaining 2 tablespoons Asiago. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Turn broiler on high and broil 1 to 2 minutes or until top is lightly browned. This is 433 calories for each of eight servings.


Nasoya Won Ton Wraps provided this recipe for a pumpkin dumpling. It is an appetizer that is different from many.

Pumpkin Dumplings

1 package won ton wraps

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pumpkin

2 teaspoons sugar

Combine pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar. Spoon a dollop in the center of the wonton wrapper. Use a little water along the edges of the wrapper and fold diagonally. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 7 minutes.


Here is a dessert that grandma made to perfection without the pumpkin included.

It gains extra taste and texture with pumpkin puree added. This recipe is from Domino Sugar.

Pumpkin Bread


4 cups white bread cut into cubes

4 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon rum or brandy

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by- 9-inch baking pan.

Dry bread cubes on a cookie sheet in the oven 10 to 15 minutes. Place bread cubes in pan. In large mixing bowl, whisk together all pudding ingredients, except butter. Pour over bread cubes. Let sit 10 minutes until bread is fully soaked. Dab butter over top. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. Pudding should be set in center but not dry.


There are those tiny pumpkins that have names like Munchkins, Little Goblins and Jack Be Nimble that are perfect for single serving, edible containers for sweet fillings like ice cream, pudding or custards. Or they can be filled with rice or risotto dishes.

Baked Mini Pumpkins

6 mini pumpkins, about 3 inches in diameter

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Chopped toasted pecans or hazelnuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off tops of pumpkins. Remove seeds and strings. Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Generously brush the inside of the pumpkins with the mixture. Place the lids on top of the pumpkins and arrange in a shallow baking pan. Add enough water to the pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.

Bake for 35 to 50 minutes or until the flesh is soft yet the pumpkin still holds its shape. Remove and set aside to cool. To serve, fill with ice cream and top with the chopped nuts and serve immediately.


Just by adding a few additions to a low-fat vanilla ice cream, a nice dessert can be made.

It can even be served as a sampler by putting small scoops of the ice cream in cordial glasses and having a choice of two kinds of cookies as accompaniment. This is from Cooking Light magazine.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

1/2 cup animal crackers

3 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

6 tablespoon frozen, reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Break animal crackers into pieces. Place crackers and next four ingredients in a large bowl; gently mash with a potato masher until combined. Spoon 1/2 cup into each of six glasses or dessert bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping. This is 236 calories for each 1/2 cup serving.


These pumpkin cookies are from the Ohio Farm Bureau magazine. It is a recipe from a dairy farmer in Bellevue. They taste very decadent with the brown sugar frosting, which I did not put on mine.

Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups pumpkin

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Cream together shortening, sugars, pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Frost with the following:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

4 tablespoons butter

Powdered sugar

Cook brown sugar, milk and butter for a minute after it comes to a full boil. Cool and keep adding powdered sugar until thick enough to put on the cookies.


Here is a dessert sent to me by my friend, Lorraine Hazlett. It is another good pumpkin dessert.

Pumpkin Cobbler

Box yellow cake mix, set aside 1 cup

1/2 cup melted margarine

1 egg

Mix ingredients, except 1 cup cake mix, and press into a 13 by 9-inch pan.

Large can pumpkin

3 eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix together and pour into crust.


1 cup cake mix

1/4 cup melted margarine

1/4 cup chopped nuts

Mix and sprinkle on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees until the center of the pumpkin filling is done.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)