Pumpkin Bread with Pecans

You may have had good intentions of making pie, pudding or cheesecake; but come Cyber Monday, you’re left with unopened cans of pumpkin that may be destined to gather dust until next year. (I still remember that jumbo can of Libby’s that took up residence in our cupboard until being donated to the church pantry sometime in July). First off, feel good about what’s inside those cans: high fiber, low calorie, vitamin A-packed vegetable puree that is pre-cooked and recipe-ready. I’m including a sweet and a savory recipe below. All you need are two 15 ounce cans of pumpkin–or one of those jumbo cans of Libby’s.

The pumpkin bread recipe comes from my sister, Kristi, who bakes it every year during the holidays. Chopped pecans or walnuts added to the top before baking toast perfectly by the time the bread is done.

The Pumpkin and Yellow Pepper Soup comes from Cooking Light magazine and I prepared it for clients several times last fall.  The addition of smoked paprika gives it some heat, turning out an earthy, spicy and sweet concoction. One cup of this soup is only 88 calories, so you can feel just fine about indulging in some pumpkin bread for dessert.

Quick & Easy Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola or safflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combo of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  1. Butter and flour two loaf pans. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat sugars and oil in a large bowl. Mix in eggs and pumpkin; set aside.
  3. Sift flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mix.
  4. Divide the batter between the loaf pans; sprinkle with nuts, if using. Bake about an hour, checking for doneness at 50 minutes.

Pumpkin and Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped yellow bell pepper (about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 cups fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  1. Heat oil in a 4-6 qt heavy pot. Add bell pepper, carrot and onion; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Add paprika and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add 3 cups broth and black pepper; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables and broth until smooth. Stir in remaining 2 cups of broth and the canned pumpkin. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat & stir in lemon juice. Makes seven (1 cup) servings. Garnish each bowl with some pumpkin seeds and parsley.


First off, Happy Thanksgiving! Many of you will prepare some dish for the occasion, something you look forward to eating all year; yet, reserve just for this day. To what degree your family’s spread resembles that shared in Plymouth, Massachusetts may be far from your mind (just pass the stuffing already). But curiosity got the best of me when I came across a copy of The Colonial Cookbook, by Lucille Penner.

Maybe it was just the light reading I needed, because I read it cover to cover and earmarked at least 10 recipes I wanted to prepare. I have to say I had “a moment” when, having read Colonial Cookbook’s recipe for fried ham with red-eye gravy, I went to the East Village restaurant Back Forty and found it on their brunch menu–it’s for real! (Red eye gravy, by the way, is a pan gravy made with strong coffee. Definitely a unique flavor that pairs well with salty/sweet ham. I ordered it and was not disappointed).

One of those earmarked recipes happened to be apple butter. Our final CSA pick up of the year supplied us with over a dozen empire apples, which I was quick to turn into–according to my colonial reference–a special favorite of the Pennsylvania Dutch:

“Apple butter was made everywhere in the colonies….at harvest time, a huge kettle was set up over an outdoor fire. The cooking and boiling of apple butter went on until there were no more spare jugs or crocks to be found.” So, equipped with my gas stove, a pot, and empty jelly jars, I was ready to be colonial for an afternoon.

Below is Penner’s recipe for apple butter, and some step by step photos.


  • 3 cups sweet apple cider
  • 2 pounds apples (around 6)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or mix of 1/4 tsp ground clove and 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  1. Boil the cider in a 4 qt saucepan for 15 minutes.
  2. While the cider boils, peel and core the apples; chop into small pieces.
  3. Add apple pieces to the cider. Cover and cook over low heat until tender, about 1 hour, stirring often.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Using an immersion blender or masher, blend apples until smooth. Leave a little texture behind if you’d like. Stir in the honey and spices.
  5. Put the pot back on the heat and cook over very low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Cool the apple butter 1-2 hours in the pan. Transfer to jars and refrigerate. Makes about 2 pints.

Also, consider making the recipe in a slow cooker.

Adding chopped apples to boiling cider

Apples cooked for an hour then blended

Apples cooked until thickened, then cooled, jarred, and spread on pumpkin bread

The Dumpling, A Seasonal Guide Several summers ago, chef Wai Hon Chu approached me to test 90+ recipes for a cookbook project with fellow chef and writer Connie Lovatt. Wai and Connie introduced me to the definition of a dumpling, “…a portion of dough, batter, or starchy plant fare, solid or filled, that is cooked through wet heat, and is not a strand or a ribbon.”

So, wet heat (literally) was what I worked through that summer, learning that sticky toffee pudding and Mexican tamales are actually dumplings! And that I’m a huge fan of dropped dumplings (a Grunt and Cocky’s Joy come out on top for flavor and funny names). And I learned that my supportive husband, then fiance, will try anything I cook; although, we’re both still suspicious of tripe.

I’ve included photos taken during the testing period of some favorites, along with several potato dumplings appropriate for this season. Check out The Dumpling’s website for info on purchasing a copy and catching one of Wai’s dumpling making workshops: The Dumpling.com
Tied Tamale

Single-Husked Tamale Fold

Tamales Stuffed with Chicken and Tomatillo Sauce

Tamales Stuffed with Chicken and Tomatillo Sauce--Tamales de Pollo (Mexico)

Wontons with Red Chili Oil

Wontons with Red Chili Oil--Hung You Chao Shou (China)

Dumplings and Cocky's Joy_cropped

Dumplings and Cocky's Joy (Australia)

Country Cabbage Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

Country Cabbage Soup with Large Cornmeal Dumplings--Soupe aux Miques et aux Choux (France)

Pumpkin and Lentil Ravioli with Browned Butter and Rosemary

Pumpkin and Lentil Ravioli with Browned Butter and Rosemary--Ravioli di Zucca e Lenticchie (Italy)

Potato Dumplings with Crouton Centers

Potato Dumplings with Crouton Centers--Kartoffelklosse (Germany)

Potato Dumplings with ham

Potato Dumplings Stuffed with Ham, with Ligonberry Jam--Kroppkakor (Sweden)

No-Fuss Potato Dumplings

No-Fuss Potato Dumpling with bacon and onion--Pyzy (Poland)