It’s the Great Pumpkin, RVA!

Seriously, much of the time I (like most people) see pumpkins as orange balls for decorating my front porch and nothing else. But these winter squashes have a lot more to offer than jack-o-lanterns.

My kids were totally pumped the day that the grocery stores had pumpkins out front. Then one of my girls asked, “Mom, why does the grocery store sell pumpkins if you can’t eat them?”

Instead of telling her that people DO eat pumpkins, for some reason I tried to make her understand that the store sells plenty of things we don’t eat, like Band-Aids and pencils, or the mums sitting right next to the pumpkins, for example.

Um… hello???

Seriously, much of the time I (like most people) see pumpkins as orange balls for decorating my front porch and nothing else. But these winter squashes have a lot more to offer than jack-o-lanterns. 
Bring a pumpkin inside and here’s what you do…

Big chunks of pumpkin won’t get you very far. You’ve got to purée the thing to get the goodness out of it. Here is a great recipe, with excellent step-by-step directions. Basically, you chop the pumpkin in to chunks, bake them, and process them until smooth. (
If you really don’t want to fuss with this step, you can buy the purée – I like Libby’s best.)

Once you’ve got your purée all set, you are ready to knock out some really fantastic recipes. Here’s the perfect pumpkin meal plan (though, I can’t really recommend you eat all of these in one day)…

Cinnamon buns are the most comforting start to a morning. They seem more “special” than pancakes, somehow. Can you think of a better way to start a brisk, fall morning than with Pumpkin Cinnamon-Streusel Buns?

What about a mid-morning snack? Save the seeds when you carve your pumpkin, and roast them… but instead of just staying plain and simple, try out these Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. I think they’d be great mixed in to a trail mix with craisins, chocolate chips, cashews, and sunflower seeds.

Lunchtime already? Take your purée a step further and turn it in to some creamy Pumpkin Butter on toast for a twist. I could see this as a great side to a nice fall salad with apples and blue cheese.

For a good hearty dinner, whip up some Pumpkin Chili for the fam. The pumpkin adds a nice thick, creamy consistency to the chili. Serve with sour cream, cheese, add corn-chips for a crunch, bake some cornbread for the side, and enjoy! And if you’re feeling really adventuresome, turn another pumpkin into a serving piece for your chili (like this). It acts just like a bowl and makes a great centerpiece!

Now, we all know about pumpkin pie, but how about a little twist on the traditional dish for dessert? This Pumpkin Cobbler is totally easy, totally sinful, and sure to please a crowd.

Not into sweets? The Shipyard Brewing Co. offers a Pumpkin Ale, and it’s gotten good reviews from the beer drinker in my house!

Pumpkin Cinnamon-Streusel Buns


  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces


  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour, pumpkin, and next 5 ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg); beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of the remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to keep dough from sticking to hands.

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Punch dough down. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Cut roll into 12 (1-inch) slices. Place slices in a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake the rolls at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and vanilla extract in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over buns and serve warm!

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

Place pumpkin seeds on ungreased cookie sheet. Mix together butter and Tabasco sauce and drizzle over the seeds. Combine spices and sprinkle over the coated seeds. Toss well to coat. Bake at 300 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown and crisp, stirring seeds once halfway through baking. Remember to store the seeds in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

Pumpkin Butter


  • 1 large can pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Pumpkin Chili


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (16 ounces) can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Red pepper flakes or hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook meat, onion and garlic until meat is brown. Drain. Add pumpkin, water, beans, garlic, taco seasoning mix, chili powder and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes or hot pepper sauce. Garnish with cheese, corn chips and sour cream. Serves six.

Pumpkin Cobbler


  • 16 ounces pumpkin purée (or 1 large can)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large can evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 yellow cake mix (Pillsbury pudding in the mix)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Mix together pumpkin, brown sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, ginger, and salt. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Then sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin. Melt butter. Drizzle this over cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Sprinkle almonds over it 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven.

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Kelly Blanchard

Kelly Blanchard loves thinking about, preparing, consuming, and serving good food. Believing that life is to short to eat the same stuff over and over, she loves to test new eats on her friends and family. Kelly loves her coffee-addicted hubbie, her two little blonde-haired babes, all things sweet, black tshirts, and the color pink.

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