Finally, sweet baking pumpkins are back in our neighborhood grocery stores. I buy no less than four and sometimes as many as six or seven and keep them in our back fridge along with a few spaghetti squash. Later I cook and freeze the pumpkin puree for use all winter. Both of these seasonal vegetables are favorites of mine, but the pumpkin is not only a favorite of mine, it is also a favorite of our two King Charles cavalier spaniels, Mickey and Charlie. Yes, I make pumpkin doggie cookies for them but I also make human cookies for us. But oh, I don’t stop there. I make bread, pie, cheesecake, shakes, muffins, soup, stew … the list goes on. Heck, I even found a pumpkin soap recipe I have asked my sister and niece to make so we all can give it as holiday gifts to teachers. Email me if you want that recipe (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). One thing I don’t do is buy pumpkin pie spice mix. I find it is easy to make my own and mine has just the right ratios of spices to my specific taste. I also want mine with no added preservatives (basically sulfites). Unfortunately, the FDA rules that sulfites are labeled in most cases only when the limits are over 10 ppm, which is considered a safe amount for most people but not if you have genetic sulfite intolerance. Sometimes just trace amounts of sulfites seem to give a lot of issues for sulfite intolerant people, so let’s play it safe and buy organic spices and mix our own. “Please Join our Table” as we mix up a batch of pumpkin pie spice and make a Thanksgiving desert your family will want even if it is not Thanksgiving!

Here is my ever-so-easy pumpkin pie spice mix. I store it in an airtight jar and it will keep for several months. It is really easy to make so I don’t make a super large batch.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE MIX

2 1/4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom*

Mix all spices together and store in an airtight jar away from heat or light.

*Cardamom is a sweet and savory spice. Both the seeds and the pod have a rich aroma and are often used in desserts, hot and spicy dishes, aromatic beverages, coffees and teas.

Note: If you don’t have a nutmeg grater, don’t worry; just buy ground nutmeg. I personally love freshly ground nutmeg, especially in my French toast batter, but that I’ll save for another column.

SISTER PAULA’S PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Crust
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

Filling

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2-teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg*
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves*
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For crust, in a medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch spring-form pan. For the filling, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined. Pour filling into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

*You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of homemade pumpkin pie spice in place of the spices in the filling recipe.

IMPOSSIBLE BISQUICK APPLE PUMPKIN PIE

6 cups pared, peeled and sliced apples
2 cups uncooked baking pumpkin, peeled and grated
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/4 teaspoon. ground cloves*
1/4-teaspoon ground nutmeg*
1/8-teaspoon allspice*
1/4-teaspoon ground ginger*
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup dry powdered milk
1/4 cup softened butter

Fill buttered 10-inch pie plate or shallow casserole with sliced apples. Put remaining ingredients together (grated uncooked pumpkin included) in food processor or blender and mix thoroughly. Pour blended ingredients over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serve hot or cool with whipped cream or ice cream.

*You can replace the spices in this recipe with 1 3/4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice mix.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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