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Pumpkin is a versatile ingredient that can make more than pie. From other sweet desserts to savory soups, pumpkins can spice up many different meals.

Putting pumpkin to good use

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Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

Among other favorite foods that make annual reappearances as the holidays roll around -- such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, fresh-baked rolls, just to name a few -- pumpkin pie is often a traditional fall and winter treat.

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But there are plenty of other uses for those pumpkins left over from Halloween or cans of puree lining store shelves. Other desserts can benefit from a touch of pumpkin. Ice cream, cakes and breads are popular choices.

Pumpkins also can be savory stars of the meal, from pumpkin ravioli or pasta sauce to soups.

The pumpkin seeds also can be a tasty and pretty healthy snack. Just sprinkle with oil and salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasty brown -- usually 30 to 45 minutes. You also can mix up that recipe with any kind of seasoning -- white cheddar, chili powder, garlic, whatever sounds good.

Recently I tried a recipe for tasty cream cheese pumpkin muffins that can double as both dessert and breakfast. The pumpkin flavor is mild but pairs well with the sweet cream cheese -- a common combination in other pumpkin treats. And the muffins are pretty easy to make, even for a baking amateur like me. Take a look.

Not your thing? Don't worry, there are plenty of other options for those pumpkins.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

America's Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

Filling:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1 tbsp. sugar

Muffins:

2 1/4 cups flour

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup canola oil

1. Start with the filling ingredients. Beat the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth, then set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

3. Divide half the batter among 24 muffin cups, greased or lined. Then drop filling by teaspoonfuls over the batter. Top the muffins with the remaining batter.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy. Recipe makes about 24 muffins.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flower

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Dash of ginger and cloves

1 cup milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir with a fork to combine.

Mix milk, pumpkin, egg and oil, then whisk with dry ingredients until combined. Batter may be lumpy.

Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spoon batter onto pan in 1/3 cup servings.

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Circle B Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 pound pasta -- campanelle or penne suggested

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, grated

1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Pure pumpkin puree (15-ounce can)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 to 3 oz. goat cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cracked pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 tbsp. chopped sage

Grated Parmesan cheese

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, cook until al dente or preferred and then drain.

Meanwhile ... in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened (typically about five minutes). Stir in broth, pumpkin, salt, pepper and cream. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk in the goat cheese and 1 tablespoon of the sage. Let simmer until thickened (about five minutes).

Toss the pasta with the sauce, cover and let sit off the heat for five minutes. Place in serving bowl and top with the remaining sage and Parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin Soup

Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. finely chopped onion

1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. butter or margarine

2 cans of pumpkin (15-ounce cans)

2 cans of chicken broth (14-ounce cans)

1 tbsp. packed brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)

1 cup half and half, cream or milk

Optional toppings: sour cream, sage leaves

In large saucepan, cook onion, curry powder, cumin, coriander and salt in hot butter until onion is tender. Whisk in pumpkin, chicken broth and brown sugar or maple syrup, if desired, until well combined. Bring mixture to just boiling, then reduce heat. Stir in half and half and heat through. Garnish as desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Pumpkin Pillows Dessert

Kraft

Ingredients:

12 caramels

1 tsp. water

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened

1/2 canned pumpkin

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. flour

1/4 tsp. orange zest

20 won ton wrappers

1 egg white

1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Microwave caramels and water on high for 30 seconds, stir until caramels are melted. Cool two minutes. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Whisk cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, zest and remaining cinnamon until well blended. Spoon about 2 tsp. onto each won ton wrapper. Moisten edges with egg white, fold diagonally in half and pinch edges to seal.

Heat oil in large saucepan, on medium-high heat, to 350 degrees. Add wontons in batches and cook for about two or three minutes or until evenly browned. Drain. Cool slightly. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Mojito

Ingredients:

1.25 oz. rum

11 mint leaves

1 tbsp. pumpkin

Half a lime

1 tbsp. Splenda

2 oz. seltzer

Muddle mint leaves and Splenda. Add rum, pumpkin, seltzer and juice from the lime.

Mix well, add ice and garnish with extra mint leaves.

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