Karen’s Fun Pumpkin Hand Pies are a delightful autumn treat.

I’m not sure, but autumn may be my favorite season. And what better way to welcome sweater weather than with a pile of pumpkins and of course, recipes from lattes to bread, pies and even pasta sauce … That doesn’t taste like pumpkin!

I love fresh pumpkin and I proceed to cook and bake with it from now until I can’t find the fresh baking pumpkins in the stores. I then switch gears and bake with canned puree all year round. Heck our fur babies Mickey and Charlie even get a dollop of it daily on top of their organic non-GMO dog food! I think the only way I don’t make pumpkin is in a fondue or soup but any other way I’m game. Now is that time of year when sweet baking pumpkins fill my pantry and fridge. I only buy baking pumpkins. We make jack-o'-lanterns out of them but also always save them after for cooking and baking. It is also a great way to avoid waste. As a health benefit it is good for your eyes and has lots of antioxidants. Pumpkin is also a low-calorie food, a great vegetable to support skin health and even the seeds make a delicious nutritional snack, especially roasted and sprinkled with a bit of cayenne and sea salt! Yes, even the blossoms and flowers are edible! Today I am sharing a few of my favorite recipes and one I especially love is my pumpkin squash sage pasta sauce. It is a dish I make that was inspired by a dish my dear friend Doris Maney served to us one cool fall day in 2008. Please “Join Our Table.” Autumn will be over before you know it — so enjoy it while you can!

Pumpkin Squash Pasta Sauce … That doesn’t taste like pumpkin!

This is a pumpkin sauce that doesn’t taste like pumpkin. It is similar to the taste of my butter sage ravioli sauce but creamier. It is lighter than most dishes I make with heavy cream sauces. And it is a fast dish … stove to table in about 20 minutes. My brother would have loved this recipe as he made a cream sauce for almost every one of his recipes from shrimp and mussels to chicken, pork chops and stroganoff. He creamed-up everything! His dishes were good but a bit too much on the heavy cream sauce for me. In fact, we would have cookoffs quite often always using the same protein but with entirely different final dishes. While mine were more on the lighter side with sauces of olive oil, butter or grated fresh tomato, my brother’s recipes were packed with cream, sour cream or cream cheese, shredded cheeses and milk. I have however been known to make light sauces using coconut milk, corn cobs, a variety of pestos and even browned (almost burned) butter. But I love to make this pumpkin or squash pasta in the fall when pumpkin and a variety of squashes like butternut are easily available. And the bonus is … this easy recipe is ready in just about 25 minutes!

INGREDIENTS

1 pound pasta, your choice I have been using a chickpea pasta, it is packed with protein!

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons arrowroot or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups whole milk or milk alternative, coconut, pea or almond work great

1 cup organic pumpkin puree fresh, homemade or canned but not pie filling

4 ounces cream cheese

2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh culinary sage leaves, no stems

5 or 6 fresh sage leaves, fried crisp to top the pasta dishes or just use the leaves fresh, chiffonade cut

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Dash of cinnamon (optional) and your choice of shaved cheese for topping.

DIRECTIONS: Make the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. In a 12-to-14-inch saucepan, over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in arrowroot or flour. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time whisking constantly until each addition is fully incorporated. Continue cooking until thick and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the pumpkin, cream cheese, sage, thyme, salt, cinnamon and pepper until the cream cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the pasta to the sauce, thin with the reserved pasta water to desired sauce thickness. Serve in individual bowls, top with cheese and the fried sage leaves.

My Copy Cat Pumpkin Spice Latte

Makes about 2 12-ounce cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups milk or nondairy alternative, such as almond, coconut or pea protein milk

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree (not sweetened and not pie filling)

2 tablespoons monk fruit powder or sweetener of choice

2 1/2 tablespoons protein powder or Vanilla Nutrimeal

1 teaspoon of powdered collagen

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 shots of espresso (about 1/4 cup) or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee or 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

DIRECTIONS: In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sweetener and stir on medium heat until steaming (you can also microwave on high for 2 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in protein powder, vanilla, collagen and pumpkin pie spice, then transfer to a blender and whirl for 15 seconds until foamy, then stir in espresso (if using instant espresso powder add with the milk). Fun options: Top with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice over the top.

Fun Pumpkin Hand Pies

Makes about 30 mini pies

INGREDIENTS

3 16-ounce cans pureed pumpkin

1 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Dash of cloves

2 packages Pillsbury™ pie crust (in the dairy case)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking sheets with butter or use parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, honey, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Fold in walnuts, set aside. On a work counter dusted lightly with flour roll out pie dough and, using a 5-inch circle template, cut about 30 circles. Place a tablespoon of the pumpkin filling in 1/2 of each of the pastry circles or until the entire pumpkin filling is used up. Brush edges with melted butter, fold over the pastry to cover the filling, creating a 1/2 moon shape. Place on baking sheets, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops of the 1/2 moon pies are golden brown.

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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