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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Thanksgiving

RECIPE: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

This fall and Thanksgiving dessert from King Arthur Flour has the wisdom of Solomon. When you can’t decide between pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, go zebra* and combine them into one dessert!

Prep time is 25 to 33 minutes, bake time is 40 to 45 minutes.


Ingredients For A 9-Inch Pie, 10-12 Servings

For The Crust

Make your favorite pie crust or purchase a deep 9″ prepared crust. You can also use a cheesecake crust of graham crackers or gingersnaps.

  • Cheesecake crust variations
  • Gingersnap crust
    For The Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crushed crystallized ginger (photo below)
    For The Pumpkin Layer

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup light cream or evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin pie cheesecake kingarthur 230L1

    The bottom layer is cheesecake, the top layer is pumpkin pie. Photo courtesy

    *A zebra is a cheesecake bottom and a brownie top, or vice versa. Here’s a recipe.



    Crystallized Ginger

    TOP PHOTO: A slice of Pumpkin Pie
    Cheesecake. Add a pinch of ground ginger
    from the whipped cream. Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO:
    finely diced crystallized ginger. You can buy it at in a small dice for baking. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    For Serving

  • Optional garnish: candied pecans (recipe)
  • Whipped cream (recipe)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    2. REMOVE the crust from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature until it’s warm enough to work with (10 to 30 minutes, depending on how long it’s been refrigerated).

    3. FLOUR your work surface, and roll the crust into a 13″ round. Transfer it to a pie plate that’s at least 9″ wide and 2″ deep. A giant spatula works well for this task. IMPORTANT: Be sure the pan is 2″ deep or all the filling won’t fit. If you find yourself with too much filling, pour it into a ramekin and bake it until the center is set. You’ll have an individual dessert or snack.

    4. GENTLY SETTLE the crust into the plate, and crimp the edges.

    5. MAKE the cheesecake filling: Combine the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar, beating slowly until the mixture is fairly smooth. It may appear grainy, or a few lumps may remain; that’s OK.

    6. STIR in the egg, vanilla and optional ginger. Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

    7. MAKE the pumpkin filling: Whisk together the sugar, salt and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin, cream or evaporated milk and eggs, and whisk gently until smooth. (You don’t want to beat a lot of air into this mixture; just be sure it’s thoroughly combined.)

    8. GENTLY SPOON the pumpkin filling atop the cheesecake layer, filling within 1/4″ of the top of the crust. NOTE: Do this carefully at first, so as to not disturb the cheesecake layer. Once you’ve covered the cheesecake, you can be less careful.


    9. BAKE the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 40 to 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with a crust shield or aluminum foil if they seem to be browning too quickly. The pie is done when it looks set, but still wobbles a bit in the center when you jiggle it. If you have a digital thermometer, the pie will register 165°F at its center when it’s done.

    10. REMOVE the pie from the oven, allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it until serving time. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a pinch of ginger and teaspoon of vanilla.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky

    Serpent's Bite Bottle

    Good enough to tote in a flask. Photo
    courtesy Spirits Marque One.


    Flavored shots are trending, and our favorite this season is Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky.

    It does for whisky what so many distillers have done for vodka: infuses a delectable layer of flavor.

    And Serpent’s Bite is the flavor of fall. It will appeal to fans of whisky and hard apple cider alike. It’s very smooth with a fine balance of sweet, crisp apple cider flavors with the whisky. The latter is distilled from corn and rye, which are blended during distillation and then infused with the apple cider flavors.

    Serpent’s Bite was made to be enjoyed in a neat shot, straight up with a slice of apple, or in a mixed-based shooter.

    At 35% ABV/70 proof, it’s a bit less alcoholic than your typical shot.

    It’s available in 50 ml (MSRP $1.89), 750 ml (MSRP $15.99) and 1 liter bottles (MSRP $18.99).

    If you want to know anything else about it, too bad. The only things on the one-page website are links to Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds, the latter promoting the hashtag #BiteTheNight.

    Perhaps the only thing to say is: It tastes really good and would be a swell gift for the right folks.

    Spirits Marque One, producer of Serpent’s Bite, is part of Constellation Brands, the holdings of which comprise the world’s largest producer of wine, including Manischewitz and Robert Mondavi. Other alcohol brands among the hundred-plus include Corona beer and Svedka vodka.



    Whisky is the Scottish spelling of whiskey. The alternative spelling was chosen to differentiate the national product from Irish whiskey.

    The “whisky” spelling is used in Canada, Japan and Wales, as well as Scotland.

    In the United States, a 1968 directive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling. However, it allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey.”

    Most U.S. producers prefer to include the “e,” as do we. Without it, it looks like something is missing.

    And another reason to keep the “e”: Irish whiskey predates Scotch whisky. Check out this brief history of whiskey.

    Ironically, distillation was discovered in the 8th century in Persia—a country that has not permitted the sale and consumption of spirits since the 1979 Islamic revolution.


    Serpent's Bite Shot

    Take a sip, bite the apple. Photo courtesy Spirits Marque One.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Soup, In A Pumpkin Or Not

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin stew cristinaferrare 230

    Pumpkin Soup Recipe

    TOP PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin
    terrine. Photo courtesy Cristina Ferrare.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a real
    pumpkin. Photo by G.M. Vozd | IST.


    When was the last time you had pumpkin soup? It seems to have been supplanted by its cousins, acorn squash soup and butternut squash soup.

    The multi-purpose fruit was introduced by the Native Americans to American colonists, who turned it into soups, sides, desserts and beer.

    You can make pumpkin soup a Halloween tradition. Serve it from a scooped-out pumpkin, invest in a pumpkin tureen, or simply serve it from the pot.

    Pumpkin soup is adaptable to different flavors, from anise to chile, curry, and just about any spice on the shelf.

  • Gordon Ramsay tops his with wild mushrooms and shaved Parmesan.
  • A pumpkin-beef soup celebrated the Independence of Haiti in 1803.
  • In Southeast Asia, chunks of pumpkin are served in a clear broth with ground pork, scallions and cilantro.
  • Here are three pumpkin soup recipes we’ve published previously, along with instructions to turn a pumpkin into a tureen.
    The recipe below is from Cristina Ferrare, host of Hallmark Channel’s The Home and Family Show. She flavors the soup with pumpkin pie spices and suggests multiple garnishes so each diner can customize his or her soup. And she uses cream cheese instead of cream, for an even richer soup.

    Whether for sophisticated palates or to warm up the kids prior to trick-or-treating, make pumpkin soup part of your Halloween tradition.
    Trivia: The word pumpkin comes from the Greek pepõn, large melon. The word soup derives from Late Latin suppa, “bread soaked in broth,” from Proto-Germanic sup, “to take liquid.” For many people, yesterdy’s bread soaked in broth was the main meal of the day and also the derivation of “supper.”

    *All squash are native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. They are members of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, and the genus Cucurbita. Pumpkin, acorn and summer squash belong to Curbita pepo; butternut squash is Curbita moschata; hubbard squash and buttercup squash belong to Curbita maxima. Curbita is Latin for “gourd.” Who said taxonomy is dull?


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 1 quart homemade chicken stock or store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) regular or low-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces, divided

    Use as many of these as you like:

  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced thin (remove seeds and pith for less heat)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Olive, pumpkin or walnut oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
  • Croutons


    1. HEAT a saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, then quickly add the onions and scallions. Stir.

    2. TURN the heat down to medium. Sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, cayenne and pumpkin, and mix well.

    3. ADD the chicken stock and stir until all of the ingredients are well blended.

    4. LOWER the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the soup starts to thicken slightly. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock or water, a half cup at a time. Turn off the heat.

    5. FILL a blender halfway with the soup and half of the cream cheese, and blend unit smooth. Pour into the soup pot. Continue the process with the rest of the soup and cream cheese until everything has been blended.

    6. PLACE the soup pot back on the stove and heat through. Serve piping hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream, finely chopped scallions, chopped jalapeño and pomegranate seeds; a drizzle of olive, pumpkin or walnut oil; and the pumpkin seeds (recipe below).


    This recipe is adapted from one from Elise on You can see the step-by-step process with photos.

    With Elise’s technique, first boiling the seeds in salted water allows salt to permeate the seeds, not just coat the outside. If they’re properly toasted and are from small to medium size pumpkins, she notes, they can be eaten shells and all.


  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Olive oil



    Carve the pumpkin, roast the seeds. Top photo courtesy Starling Farms. Bottom hoto courtesy Elise | Simply Recipes.


    1. USE a strong metal spoon to scrape the seeds and strings from the inside of the pumpkin. Place in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds.

    2. MEASURE the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier.

    3. BRING the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Toss the seeds in oil and spread out in a single layer in a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.

    5. BAKE on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds (small pumpkin seeds may toast in 5 minutes, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes). Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over-toasted. When lightly browned…

    6. REMOVE the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack until ready to serve. Test to see if you enjoy the seeds whole. If not, crack to remove the inner seeds.



    RECIPE: Pumpkin-Apple French Toast

    For seasonal brunching, we like this Pumpkin-Apple French Toast by Serena Wolf of the blog Domesticate-Me, sent to us by grocery delivery service

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    This recipe works best with slightly stale (day-old) bread.For a richer French toast, replace half of the milk with half-and-half. If you don’t want to use butter, substitute coconut milk.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The French Toast

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée (unseasoned)
  • 1 cup milk (substitute unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 1¼-inch slices brioche or challah
  • Butter for frying

    Apple French Toast

    Pumpkin French toast topped with sautéed cinnamon apples. Photo courtesy Domesticate Me | Peapod.


    For The Apple Topping

  • 1 tablespoon or butter
  • 3 apples (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or mix), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

    Honeycrisp Apple

    A Honeycrisp apple. Photo courtesy Rainier Fruit.



    1. COOK the apples. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the apples, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tender, and then stir in the maple syrup. Cook for 1 minute. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. (If you prefer very soft apples, cook them for 10-12 minutes before adding the maple syrup.)

    2. WHISK together the eggs, pumpkin purée, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices in a large baking dish (at least 9”x13”).

    3. PLACE the slices of bread in the custard mixture and let soak for 5 minutes, turning over the slices halfway through, until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the bread. Gently press on the bread a few times during the soaking process to help it absorb the custard. Meanwhile…


    4. HEAT a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Add a butter to the griddle/skillet. When melted, carefully remove the bread from the custard and place on the griddle/skillet. You’ll probably need to do this in two batches. Cook for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Add another bit of butter, flip the French toast, and cook for another 3 minutes or until golden brown.

    5. TRANSFER the French toast to plates and top with the warm apples. Serve with a pitcher of maple syrup on the side.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Jell-O As Elegant Gélee

    Jello Mold

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow jello jellomoldmistress 230

    How can you dis them? Retro-style Jell-O
    molds from See the
    photos below for shaping without molds.


    Check online and you’ll find that more people are horrified by retro Jell-o molds than embrace them.

    Yet, these gelatin works of art, that became de rigeur party fare in the 1950s, get a bad rap. Seriously, what’s wrong with different flavors of Jell-O and fruit layered in an attractive mold?

    They are very tasty, thank you, and enable the cook to exercise creativity. If the media mentioned, say, that they were a favorite at the Kardashian or Brangelina household, molds and Jell-O would be flying off the shelves.

    Sugar-free Diet Jell-O provides a low-calorie dessert option. And a holiday offers the opportunity to use theme colors.

    Maybe ditch the brand name, Jell-O, and the generic term, gelatin, when presenting the dish. Call it something that sounds like a sophisticated dessert. We prefer the French name for a gelatin dish, gelée (zhel-LAY) or gélatine (zhay-la-TEEN), which identifies the product, gelatin.

    Trivia: The name comes from the Latin gelare, to freeze.

    Make this harvest-colored Ginger Gelée with the taste of fall. The recipe was adapted from


    As you can see in the photo below, you don’t need to make the dish in a mold. Make the gelée in a baking pan and cut it into elegant rectangles. Or make a layered gelée in glasses, as Martha Stewart did in the second photo below.


  • 1/4 cup peeled, fresh ginger, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 two-gram gelatin sheets, softened in cold water-or-apricot or mango Jell-O
  • 1 quart bottled or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped-or-a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, strained
  • Optional: food color
  • Garnish: raspberry, pineapple dice, candied orange peel, mint or tarragon leaf or other contrasting garnish (for kids, try candy corn)


    1. FILL a small bowl halfway with ice cubes and water. Put the ginger in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain and transfer the ginger to the ice-water bath; let cool. Repeat this process two more times, starting with cold water in the pot each time.

    2. SOFTEN the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water. Lift the gelatin out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove the excess moisture.

    3. BRING the blanched ginger, water, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin has melted. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve in a large bowl; discard the ginger and vanilla bean pod.

    4. COOL the liquid to room temperature, then whisk in the lime juice. Adjust the color as you like with food color (1 drop red + 2 drops yellow = orange, or see this chart). Pour the liquid into a 1-quart mold or an 8- by 8-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set.

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory*, gelatin-like dish made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the invention of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare and thus a dish for the wealthy, requiring days to boil down and clarify natural gelatin to make the aspic set. The aspic was shaped in an elaborate mold, to be admired by the guests.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ginger gelee elegant affairs 230


    TOP PHOTO: Gelée cut into elegant rectangles. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gelée in glasses. Photo courtesy


    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (in Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York. Alas, sales were slow and one day, Woodward sold Sam Nico the business for $35.
    Finally, Success

    In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000—more than $6 billion in today’s dollars. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., replacing the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. The next flavor, Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930. Recipes printed on the boxes—including molds—brought more users into the fold.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. Today there are 21 flavors of regular Jell-O and eight sugar-free flavors, plus puddings and snacks in both categories.

    There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

    *Molded sweet gelatin mixes were called gelatin salads.



    PRODUCT: Pumpkin Design Loaf Pan


    This Nordic Ware loaf pan makes plain cake look lovely. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    With the disclosure that we love to eat cake, and can enjoy a slice a day, we actually prefer loaf cakes to elaborately iced and filled cakes. We can have our cake and eat it, too, because we convince ourself that a loaf cake is better for you.

    (In fact, because there’s no extra sugar- and butter-laden filling and frosting, it is a bit better. A bit.)

    That’s why we allowed ourself to buy another loaf pan. This intricately sculpted pan adds autumnal beauty to a banana bread, carrot cake, chocolate loaf, pound cake, pumpkin bread, spice bread, zucchini cake….

    Not to mention, cornbread soda bread and other homemade loaves.

    All you have to do is buy the pan and pour in the batter. The beautiful Nordic Ware pan—an exclusive to Williams-Sonoma—will take over.


    You can top the cake with a simple glaze or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, but we think the plain relief of pumpkins and vines is lovelier.

    The pumpkin loaf pan is made of durable cast-aluminum, which ensures even baking. The nonstick finish guarantees your cake will release easily, and clean-up will be a breeze.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma stores or online.



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Lasagna & Pumpkin Ravioli Lasagna


    Pumpkin lasagna made in a Dutch oven.
    Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    How about a festive pumpkin lasagna for Halloween or Thanksgiving?

    One of the tips to enjoy a rich, hearty dish like lasagna is to serve it in smaller portions as a first course. Our friend Ruth’s Italian-American mother always served a pasta course before the Thanksgiving turkey.

    You can buy delicious pumpkin ravioli and serve it with any sauce—Alfredo, butter, olive oil, pumpkin or tomato. You can make pumpkin mac and cheese, and for more fun serve it in a hollowed-out baby pumpkin garnished with shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas).

    You can add diced pumpkin (or its stand-ins, acorn or butternut squash) to cooked pasta, purée the pumpkin into a sauce (here’s a recipe) or both.

    The first recipe is from Williams-Sonoma. You don’t need a lasagna pan because it’s made in a Dutch oven. Find more delicious recipes on the website.

    Our second lasagna recipe is even easier, because it’s a ravioli lasagna: ravioli is used instead of lasagna noodles.


    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon julienned fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup (1/3 ounce) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 yellow summer squash, cut into rounds 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 2 zucchini, cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) pumpkin pasta sauce or sauce of choice
  • 12 sheets dried ruffle-edged lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 1 pound Fontina cheese, shredded (substitute Emmental, Gruyère or Provolone

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

    2. STIR together the ricotta, sage, 3 tablespoons of the parsley and all the garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

    3. TOSS the yellow squash and zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    4. WARM the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in an oval Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the yellow squash and zucchini. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.

    5. SPREAD 1/2 cup pasta sauce in an even layer on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles on top, tearing them as needed to fit. Spread 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture on the noodles and scatter 1 cup of the vegetable mixture on top. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce over the vegetables and sprinkle 1 cup of the Fontina on top. Layer the noodles, ricotta, vegetables, sauce and fontina 3 more times, omitting the sauce and fontina on the last layer. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce and Fontina.

    6. TRANSFER to the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of parsley on top. Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before serving.



    If you don’t make lasagna often, you may find yourself struggling with the lasagna noodles. Bless the person who first thought of this trick: use cooked ravioli instead of lasagna noodles. Alternatively, you can use penne or other tube pasta, but ravioli supplies added filling.

    This recipe from Taste Of Home takes 25 minutes to prep and 40 minutes to bake.
    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 pound ground beef, pork or turkey*
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) pumpkin pasta sauce or sauce of choice
  • 1 package (25 ounces) frozen cheese or sausage ravioli
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • Herbs of choice: basil, chili flakes, garlic, oregano, thyme

    Pumpkin Ravioli Lasagna

    In this lasagna, ravioli substitutes for the lasagna noodles. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400F. Cook the meat in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; drain the fat.

    2. LAYER in a greased 2-1/2-quart baking dish: a third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli and beef and 1/2 cup cheese; sprinkle with herbs. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining sauce, cheese and herbs.

    3. COVER and bake at 400°F for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6-8 servings. If you have leftover fresh herbs, sprinkle them over the cooked lasagna.

    *Vegetarians can substitute TVP, textured vegetable protein.



    RECIPE: Twice Baked Pumpkin Potatoes

    This recipe for Twice Baked Potatoes offers a new twist by mixing pumpkin in with the scooped-out potato flesh. The result is more complex flavor and more creamy texture—not to mention a bright orange color. There are also a trio of onion varieties: green onions, shallots and yellow onions.

    The recipe is from Taylor Mathis of for He recommends it as “a perfect side for any grilled or roasted pork dish.” Ditto for roast chicken.

    Taylor, a professional food and lifestyle photographer, works with his mother Sally James Mathis, a professional recipe developer. You can bet that everything they create is delicious.


    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup scallions (white and green parts), chopped
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


    The center is scooped from baked potatoes, mixed with pumpkin, returned to the potato shell and baked again. Photo courtesy Taylor Mathis | Go Bold With Butter.

  • Garnish: pumpkin seeds and additional grated Parmesan Cheese


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 42°F and bake the potatoes: Pierce each raw potato three or four times with a fork. Brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place and directly on the oven rack. Roast until the skin is crisp and the body is very soft when squeezed, 50–60 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F.

    2. SPLIT the baked potatoes in half lengthwise while still warm. Scoop out the insides of each half, taking care not to damage the skins, and place the flesh in a large bowl. The hollowed-out potato skins will be filled later.

    3. MELT the butter in a medium pan. Add the yellow onions, shallots and scallions. Cook, while stirring, until soft. Add the canned pumpkin and milk. Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

    4. REDUCE the heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan and stir. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the large bowl of potatoes.

    5. FILL the empty potato shells with the potato and pumpkin mixture. Garnish with additional Parmesan and pumpkin seeds as desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.



    A russet potato with extra slices. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.



    Russets are the most common type of potato grown in the U.S. They are the classic baking potato, floury/starchy potatoes that are lower in moisture (drier) and high in starch. The potato is oval and has a brown or russet-colored, net-like skin. The skin typically has just a few shallow eyes.

    The term “Idaho potatoes” is often used interchangeably, but Idaho© Potatoes is a trademark of the Idaho Potato Commission, for russets that are grown in the state of Idaho.

    Floury potatoes do not hold their shape well after cooking due to their low sugar content. They have a crumbly texture that tends to fall apart when boiled. That’s why russets are easier to mash. In addition to baked potatoes, they’re also used for deep-frying (for example, French fries and potato pancakes).

    Russets are bred to be harvested in the warmer months; Idahos are harvested in the cooler months. Idahoan Luther Burbank developed the Russet Burbank potato in 1872, a more disease-resistant version of the Irish russet potato.


    There have been additional russet developments since. In the U.S. alone, they include Alturas, BelRus, Centennial Russet, Century Russet, Frontier Russet, Goldrush, Hilite Russet, Krantz, Lemhi Russet, Nooksack, Norgold Russet, Norking Russet, Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah and Russet Nugget. Each is bred for optimal growing in different soils, climates, rainfalls and seasons, and for resistance to pests.


    Wild potatoes are indigenous to the Andes Mountains in Peru, where the Incas cultivated many species of potato. They were first domesticated more than 6,000 years ago.

    The name is said to originate from the Spanish patata, a combination of batata (sweet potato) and papa, a word for potato from the Inca Quechua language.

    The Spanish conquered Peru around 1530 and brought potatoes back home to Spain along with tomatoes, also native to Peru. News traveled fast (or what passed as “fast” in the centuries prior to the telegraph), and potatoes quickly reached the rest of Western Europe.

    However, not everyone was enamored of the potato or the tomato. They were feared at first, accused of causing leprosy and being poisonous. They were classified as members of the Nightshade family, Solanaceae, because both contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids. However, the levels in domestic potatoes and tomatoes fall far short of being harmful to people.

    Slowly, more countries realized the power of the potato. It could grow in any climate. It became a major food crop in Ireland, so much so that when the country was hit by a potato blight (Phytophthora infestans) three years in a row, more than a million people died of starvation and disease.

    Potatoes were introduced to America in the 18th century. They were first planted in Idaho in 1836; today the state grows 25% of the nation’s potatoes.

    See the other types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

    Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

    Pumpkin pasta sauce for fall: Buy it or make it! Photo courtesy Cucina Antica.


    Here’s a two-fer for National Pasta Month and Halloween: Tuscany Pumpkin pasta sauce from Cucina Antica. You can buy it, or make your own.

    The sauce can also be used to top other foods including sautéed or roasted vegetables, and to blend into mashed potatoes, rice or risotto.

    In Cucina Antica’s sauce, pumpkin and carrot purées and San Marzano tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, rosemary and sage, are simmered with a touch of heavy cream, onions and parsley. There are also hints of basil, cinnamon and honey.

    You can use it with plain pasta, stuffed pasta (gnocchi, ravioli, tortellini) or baked dishes like lasagna. At Cucina Ant5ica, they also turn it into cream of pumpkin soup with the addition of more cream or half-and-half.

    It’s a nice foodie gift, too, available from in 25-ounce jars. They sell 3-, 6- and 12-packs; a 3-pack is $16.80.

    Or, make your own.

    In addition to the recipe below, you can adapt the sauce to be more like Cucina Antica’s, with cinnamon and honey instead of red pepper flakes; or with cream instead of the Parmesan cheese.

    Or, get inspiration from this recipe from Food and Wine, which includes mascarpone cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

    And this recipe from Rachael Ray adds sweet sausage and white wine.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 can (15 ounces) plain pumpkin purée
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or fresh-ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 cup tomato purée, ideally San Marzano
  • Salt to taste

  • Cooked pasta of choice


    1. COOK the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water; then drain the pasta and set aside.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in the pasta pot over medium heat. Add the rosemary and fry, stirring, until the rosemary starts to brown (1 to 2 minutes). With a slotted spoon, drain the rosemary, the leaving the oil in pot, and drain it on paper towels. It will be used as garnish, and also imparts rosemary flavor to the oil. You can use this technique whenever you are making an oil-based recipe.

    3. ADD the pumpkin purée, garlic, half-and-half, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, optional red pepper flakes and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot. Take care because the oil is hot and can spatter. Stir the sauce until heated through (2 to 3 minutes).

    4. ADD the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Season generously with salt. Serve pasta sprinkled with fried rosemary and, if desired, more red-pepper flakes.

    Pumpkin originated in Central America more than 7,500 years ago. The oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds found to date were in the Oaxaca Highlands in southwest Mexico.

    The original pumpkins bore little resemblance to today’s large, bright orange, sweet variety; they were small and bitter. Domestication and breeding produced the pumpkins we know today.

    Brought to North America, pumpkins were a welcome food for the winter. Their thick skin and solid flesh were ideal for storing for consumption during months of scarcity.


    Pumpkin Lasagna


    Lasagna made with pumpkin sauce. Here’s the recipe from Taste Of Home. Bottom photo of pumpkins by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.


    Europeans immigrating to New England were introduced to pumpkin by Native Americans. The first known pumpkin recipe they made was found in a book from the early 1670s. The recipe was for a side dish made from diced pumpkin, cooked down and blended with butter and spices—much like acorn squash, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are prepared today.

    During the 17th century, housewives developed an inventory of pumpkin recipes, the most popular of which remains [drum roll…] pumpkin pie.

    In the 1800s it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during holiday dinners. The first proclamation for “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” led to an observance on November 28, 1782. Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been an official annual holiday, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheesecake Crust Variations


    We look forward to pumpkin cheesecake each fall. Photo courtesy Marisa Churchill.


    The most interesting news in cheesecake these days is not the flavor. You need only head to the Cheesecake Factory for a slice of Lemon Meringue Cheesecake.

    If that sounds too simple, there’s this Balsamic Strawberry, Basil & Black Pepper Cheesecake. Or you can combine two seemingly unrelated flavors, as in this Lime and Chocolate Cheesecake.

    But the real excitement in cheesecake these days is the crust. It’s typically a simple graham cracker or cookie crust—chocolate wafers or shortbread are most common. But expand your horizons and start crushing these alternatives:

  • Breakfast cereal: corn flakes, granola
  • Candy: add crushed butterscotch/toffee, brittle, candy cane or crystallized ginger to the crust
  • Cookie dough (it bakes into a solid cookie base)
  • Nuts and seeds: add chopped almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), walnuts
  • Pretzels
  • Other cookies: amaretti, biscotti/rusks*, brownies, coconut macaroons, digestive biscuits, gingersnaps, Oreos, peanut butter cookies, speculoos spice cookies, vanilla wafers or anything that appeals to you
  • Sugar or waffle ice cream cones
    The tip: Let your imagination be your guide. For pumpkin cheesecake season, it’s easy to do something different, making a crust of gingersnaps or spice cookies, plus nuts and seeds.

    *Our mom preferred a rusk crust using Nabisco’s Zweiback, teething biscuits that were barely sweetened. Nabisco no longer makes them but you can find other rusks.


    This pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Christina Ferrare uses a combination crust of graham crackers and gingersnaps, plus nuts. Christina notes, “I always make two because this is the first dessert to go. When it’s baking, you can smell the spices all over the house.”

    This recipe makes 10-12 servings in a 9-inch springform pan. Make it the day before, so it can rest in the fridge overnight.

    For The Crust

  • 9 whole graham crackers
  • 12 gingersnap cookies
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    For The Filling

  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can (15- ounces) plain pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional garnishes: caramel sauce, pomegranate arils, whipped cream or bourbon whipped cream, candied pecans


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place an oven rack in the lower-middle part of the oven. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. MAKE the crust: In a food processor, combine the graham crackers, gingersnaps, pecans, sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Process until evenly ground. Add the melted butter and process for 5 to 8 seconds. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan, and spread them into an even layer using your hands and pressing gently.

    3. BAKE for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When the crust is cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch square pieces of foil, and set the springform pan in a roasting pan (you’ll be using it to make a bain-marie in step 5).

    4. MAKE the filling: In a food processor, process the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition. Add the cream and pumpkin and process until well blended. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly. Tap the pan on the counter 4 to 5 times to remove air bubbles.


    Pepita Cheesecake Crust

    For pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin pie, make a crust with gingersnaps, fall spices and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The recipe is below. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    5. PLACE the cheesecake (in the roasting pan) in the oven. Quickly fill the roasting pan with water halfway. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is set. To test, insert a toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place it on the counter to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.

    6. RELEASE the cake from the springform pan by running a knife under warm water, and run the knife all around the cheesecake to loosen the sides. Release the sides of the springform and gently lift it away from the cake. Garnish as desired.

    This crust was developed by McCormick for a pumpkin pie, but we like it for cheesecake, too.


  • 1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the pepitas, almonds, brown sugar, ginger and salt in food processor; cover and pulse until coarsely chopped.

    2. ADD the butter; mix until well blended. Press firmly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

    3. FILL with your choice cheesecake batter and proceed with that recipe’s directions; or make this pumpkin pie recipe from McCormick.



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