If your idea of pumpkin is limited to Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, then this column today will broaden your scope because it is all about pumpkins. There is so much you can do with a pumpkin, and I am told it is one of the healthiest things you can eat. Whenever I cook a pumpkin I save the seeds and roast them. All I do is spread them out on parchment paper on a baking sheet, coat them with a little olive oil, and then season them up to suit me. Some of the things I have used are salt, seasoned salt, chili powder, cinnamon and sugar, and cayenne. Use what you like. They are great to snack on and are really good for you, too! If you don’t want them for yourself, the birds will thank you! But whatever you do, don’t just throw them away!

If you have never driven past a pumpkin field or even a produce market and looked at the hundreds of bright orange pumpkins dotting the land, you are missing one of Fall’s most beautiful sights. The pumpkin is one of America’s native plants and is very versatile when it comes to cooking. I have several good pumpkin recipes to pass on this week and a few more that I will include in the weeks to come. Because the pumpkin is so plentiful and delicious, cook up a special fall treat this week, or lay back a recipe or two for Thanksgiving. I appreciate all who have contributed pumpkin recipes this week, and remember I am always glad to get your recipes and ideas to pass along. Happy Fall, Y’all!

Thick and Golden Cream of Potato Soup From Edwina Taylor

Richard’s Note: It is not a pumpkin recipe, but this is beautiful and delicious any time and especially right now. And besides, people have been asking me for it, so here is Edwina’s delicious recipe for you to enjoy!

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

3 large potatoes, peeled and diced

Water to cover

1 qt. milk

3 Tbs. flour or cornstarch

1/2 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). Whisk together one-half cup milk with the flour. Add to soup. Stir until thickened (add more flour for thicker soup). Add salt, pepper and remaining milk. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted. (Note: Recipe can be doubled and frozen.)

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Sauce

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

4 eggs

1 (16 oz.) can solid packed pumpkin

1 cup vegetable oil

1 & 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3 Tbs. all purpose flour

1 & 1/4 Tbs. butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour into a greased 13-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. For sauce, combine brown sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan. Stir in water and butter; bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for three minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cut cake into squares and serve with warm sauce.

Pumpkin Dip

12 oz. cream cheese softened

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 Tbs. taco seasoning mix

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 (2 & 1/4 oz.) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 round loaf of pumpernickel bread

Corn chips

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin, taco seasoning, and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in peppers and olives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, cut top off bread, scoop out the bread from the inside, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. Save the bread to dip in the dip. Serve with corn chips and the bread pieces.

Pumpkin Dessert Squares

1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup)

1 stick melted butter + 1/2 stick softened for topping

3 eggs

1/8 cup milk

1 (13.5 oz.) jar Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter or any other

1 Tbs. flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine cake mix with one stick melted butter and one egg. Press into bottom of 9x13 pan. Mix Pecan Pumpkin Butter with remaining two eggs and one-eighth cup milk. Pour over cake mixture. Topping: Mix remaining one cup cake mix with one tablespoon flour, one-fourth cup sugar, one-half stick softened butter and one teaspoon cinnamon. Mix and crumble over top of pumpkin layer. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

24 gingersnap cookies

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

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

3 large eggs

1 (13.5 oz.) jar Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter

Place one cookie in the bottom of 24 paper lined muffin cups. Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Fold in Pecan Pumpkin Butter. Pour filling into each muffin cup to almost full. Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 , minutes or until center is firm. Allow to cool before chilling several hours or overnight. (Note: You can use a pumpkin butter recipe as a substitute.) To Serve: Remove from paper liners, top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Pumpkin Butter

15 oz. can pumpkin

1 cup apple peeled and grated

1 cup apple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar-packed

3/4 tsp. pie spice

Bring to a boil, cook on low for one and one-half hours, stir.

Pumpkin Butter

1 (29 oz.) can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup apple juice

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Spoon hot pumpkin mixture into hot jars, filling to within one-fourth inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 (16 oz.) pkg. pound cake mix

2 eggs

1 can pumpkin

1/3 cup water

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325°. Line 16 muffin cups. Combine everything and beat for three minutes. Fill cups three-fourth full. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Spread with prepared vanilla frosting. Enjoy this yummy fall treat with a cup of hot apple cider.

How To Prepare Fresh Pumpkin

Break off the pumpkin stem. Cut the pumpkin in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds and stringy material. (Save the seeds for the birds or toast them for a special, healthy treat for yourself!) Place the halves, cut sides up, on a foil lined baking sheet. Cover and seal each half with foil Bake in a preheated 350° oven until the flesh is very tender — about one and one-half hours. Cool until able to handle. Scoop out the flesh and mash with a potato masher, puree in a blender or processor, or push through a fine sieve. If the puree is too watery, drain in a colander lined with cheesecloth, folding the cheesecloth over the puree and weighing down with a plate. Puree will keep up to five days in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.

Salted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

2 cups water

1/4 cup salt

2 cups pumpkin seeds

Combine water and salt in saucepan. Cook and stir until salt dissolves; cool. Add pumpkin seeds and soak overnight. Drain thoroughly. Pat seeds dry with paper towel. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300° until seeds are dry, about one hour.

Pumpkin and Praline Pie

Prepared pie pastry for two 9-inch or 10-inch pie crusts (single crusts).

Pumpkin Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 Tbs. flour

1 Tbs. bitters, optional

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 Tbs. butter

1 (29 oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1/4 cup sweet milk

1 cup water

Mix sugar, light brown sugar, flour, bitters, if desired, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a large bowl. Stir in egg; set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add pumpkin puree; simmer, stirring occasionally, until puree thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Gradually, stir hot pumpkin puree into the sugar mixture. Stir in evaporated milk, sweet milk and 1 cup water.

Praline:

4 Tbs. butter, softened

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Whipped cream or whipped topping

Beat butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in pecans and set aside.

Bring dough to room temperature. Working with one disk at a time, place on a floured surface. Using half of the remaining one-fourth cup flour, roll into a 13-inch circle, 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan; trim away excess dough and flute the edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining disk of dough to make a second pie shell. Prick each pie shell all over its surface with a fork. Preheat oven to 450°. Freeze pie shells for 10 minutes. Spread half of the praline mixture over the bottom of each pie shell. Bake until praline is golden brown and bubbly, about 10 minutes; cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Pour half the pumpkin filling into each crust; smooth the top of each with a spatula. Bake until pumpkin filling in each pie pan is firm and crusts are golden brown, about one hour. Cool completely and serve. Makes two 9-inch pies. Top with whipping cream or whipped topping, if desired. Garnish with whole pecans.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Recipe

1 & 1/3 cup pumpkin, cooked & pureed

1 & 1/3 cup condensed milk (Eagle Brand)

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1 & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground

1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ground

1/2 tsp. ginger, ground

1/4 tsp. cloves, ground

1 cup hot water

Beat all ingredients together. Pour into a 9-inch pastry shell. Bake at 375° for 55 to 65 minutes.

Pumpkin Nut Bread Recipe

3 & 1/2 cup sifted flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 & 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

3 cups sugar

1 cup pecans

4 eggs

1 & 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup butter

2/3 cup water

Topping:

2 Tbs. melted butter

2 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Sift dry ingredients into large mixer bowl. Quickly add all remaining ingredients. Mix only until dry ingredients are moist. Bake in two greased 9x5 pans in preheated 350° oven for one hour. Cool five minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack. While warm brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Yields two loaves.

Country Pumpkin Bread Recipe

3/4 cup shortening

2 & 1/2 cup sugar

4 eggs, beaten

2 cup cooked pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 & 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1 cup black walnuts

2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Stir in pumpkin and water. Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Fold in nuts and raisins. Spoon batter into two grand bake for one hour, or until bread tests done with a toothpick. Yields two loaves.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie

Richard’s Note: This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Equal Sweetener and sent in by a reader from Birchwood.

1 (9-inch) pie pastry, in pie pan

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

3 eggs

18 packets Equal Sweetener

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat pumpkin, milk and eggs. Beat in rest of ingredients. Pour into pastry lined pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°. Bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve with sugar free whipped cream.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of baking soda

1 tsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of salt

Frosting:

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

5 Tbs. butter or margarine, softened

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 & 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar

3 to 4 tsp. of milk

Chopped nuts

In a mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add eggs; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended. Pour into a greased 10x15 baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake tests done. Cool. For frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar; mix well. Add milk until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency. Frost cake. Sprinkle with nuts. Yields 20 to 24 servings.