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It’s pumpkin spice season again

Pumpkin spice everything is either something you love or something you can do without. Either way, coming up with just the right blend of spices to suit your tasts can be daunting. Since pumpkin spice is actually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, it’s super easy to whip up a batch of the spice blend that fits your taste buds to a tee. Don’t like cloves? Either reduce the amount or leave it out completely. Some blends also include a touch of allspice. If you like allspice, then throw in a teaspoon to the basic recipe.

To get you started on your journey into pumpkin spice season, here is a good blend that you can make on your own. It’s also a little cheaper than purchasing those tiny cans of premixed spices.

Pumpkin Spice Blend

4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight lid. Shake to blend completely. Can be kept in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

There are many people who love pumpkin spices on anything they eat this time of year. From popcorn to coffee, the spice blend is popular for good reason. If you throw a spoonful of the spice mix on some nuts, I’m in, too.

Spiced Nuts

1 large egg white

1 tsp. water

2 12oz. cans of salted mixed nuts

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp. pumpkin spice blend

In a small bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the water and beat until soft peaks form. Stir in the nuts and toss to coat well. Combine sugar and spices in a seperate bowl. Stir the Pour over nuts and toss to coat well. Spread nuts evenly on a greased 15×10 baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and pour onto a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper and allow to cool.

Now to move on to a recipe that has become a staple in my house once the leaves begin to change colors. This is recipe is a little more in line with using the spice blend for it’s original purpose even though it’s not really a pie.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookies, crushed

3/4 cup chopped pecans

3 tbsp. brown sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. spice blend

4 large eggs.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a  9-inch springform pan.Using a fork, combine gingersnaps, nuts, sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides (about two inches) in the pan to form the crust. Set aside. With an mixer, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin pruree. Mix in the cream, syrup, spice blend and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth and creamy. Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake for 90 minutes or until center of cheescake is just set. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight before removing from pan. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce if desired.

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

2 quarts of popped corn

3 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pumpkin spice

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place popcorn in a large bowl. In a saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and add sugar, water, vanilla, salt and spice blend. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over popcorn and toss to mix until popcorn is fully coated. Transfer to baking tray. Bake uncovered in a 300 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir every three or four minutes. Remove from oven and continue to stir every few minutes while cooling. As the popcorn cools it will become crispy.

If you’ve ever taken a trip to the mountains in the fall, chances are you’ve picked up a hunk of pumpkin fudge. If you can’t make it to the mountains this year, try making a batch of this wonderful goodness at home.

Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

2 cups sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¾ cup butter

2 cups white baking chips

1 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream

1 cup chopped pecans

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil. Combine sugar, brown sugar, milk, pumpkin, butter and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees or soft-ball stage. Quickly stir in morsels, marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla. Stir vigorously for about one minute or until all of the morsels are melted. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Let stand on wire rack for two hours or until completely cooled. Cover tightly and refrigerate. To cut, lift from pan and remove foil. Cut into one-inch pieces.

Of course, I couldn’t let this space get filled up before giving you the recipe for the drink that introduced me to pumpkin spices used in something other than pie.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

3 cups milk

¾ cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ cups hot brewed espresso or strong brewed coffee

Place first six ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Stir in hot espresso or coffee. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.

This drink is also good frozen. To whip up a frozen latte, simply pour the desired amount into the blender and throw in a few handfuls of ice. Additional

If you find yourself with too many dishes that you’ve made using pumpkin pie spice, give me a call.

The season we are entering is one that certainly calls for warming the body and soul and pumpkin spice is just the ticket.