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Nebraska Furniture Mart | November 25, 2017

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Embracing the Pumpkin Spice Madness

Pumpkins carved out

I will admit to being a pumpkin lover long before it was in vogue (I am kind of a trendsetter if I do say so myself).  But like most of humanity, I find the current fevered pitch of the Pumpkin Loving People (P.L.P. for short) at a point that is not only unsustainable, but quite frankly annoying. There are now pumpkin latte-flavored M&Ms, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin-flavored vodka and beer, pumpkin-flavored almonds, pumpkin frozen waffles, pumpkin coffee cream, pumpkin bagels and English muffins, pumpkin-flavored gum, and wait for it… pumpkin-flavored Pringle potato chips. P.L.P., I beg of you, “Stop the Insanity!” Where is Susan Powter when you need her?

In fairness, most of the things on that list do sound delicious to me (expect the hummus and potato chips) but the sheer abundance of pumpkin-flavored products kind of makes them seem less attractive. I think of it like having a crush on an older boy, say a guy from back in 7th grade that had the most beautiful blue eyes and curly hair and a seriously sweet skate board… well anyway, you remember that kind of crush!  Half the fun of the crush is waiting to see if he will walk by your locker after Algebra 1. I mean really, did he even notice you?  But if that cute guy comes on too strong or appears too easy, POOF!, he is no longer a crush but an annoying kid you will see every day until you graduate or your parents let you transfer to another school, whichever comes first. But I digress.

The thing is, as any real P.L.P. knows, pumpkin-flavored anything used to be a little exotic and hard to find. Part of the thrill was the hunt, not just the actual pumpkin flavor. You could count on it at the Thanksgiving table for sure. But beyond that, you felt lucky to get a slice of pumpkin bread every now and again. Or maybe you came across a cookie shaped like a pumpkin. Or, if you were extremely lucky, an independent coffee shop would make a pumpkin flavored latte. But despite all the misplaced, overzealous pre-seasonal pumpkin-cheer, I am still a pumpkin lover.

Here’s a recipe that I can handle (I did not get accepted to any Culinary Institutes of Higher Learning) yet is still unique enough for me to maintain my Elite P.L.P. status.

 

Pumpkin and Steel Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • Oatmeal
  • 1 canned pumpkin
  • Water
  • Agave Nectar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cocoa dusted almonds

Directions

  1. This one is so simple, really.  I prepare the oatmeal according to the instructions on the bag, except I hold off a little on the water (maybe ¼ of the total water required).
  2. Substitute the water with a half a can of canned pumpkin (organic, of course).
  3. Throw in cinnamon and nutmeg to taste preference.
  4. Cook according to package instructions.
  5. When complete, add agave nectar (code for “tastes like honey”) and coco dusted almonds.

I generally think oatmeal is like porridge or gruel, but when prepared with pumpkin and spices I actually like it and look forward to eating it!

If you have not already figured it out, I am not really a Foodie-Chef type. So this is another recipe that requires very little precision. I found it on Taste of Home. I would cut the turkey (not a big meat eater), use spicy canned tomatoes, and  probably add some cheese (pepper jack!).

I make pumpkin chili a few times each fall and do love the variation of a great winter-meal-in-a-bowl!

Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cubed avocado and thinly sliced green onions, optional

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  2. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours. If desired, top with avocado and green onions.Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

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