It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays. Which means it’s time to mentally prepare for the excessive amounts of time you’re bound to spend in the kitchen these next few months. Because the main course and side dishes will probably consume most of your time, I’ve chosen a few easy desserts made with fall and winter’s best product: pumpkin. These recipes are sure to make your life easier and your get-togethers less boring. After all, plain old pumpkin pie is so last season.
If you need something fast and kid-friendly, try pumpkin cupcakes made using a cake mix.
Mix together a yellow cake mix and the ingredients it calls for, except for water, in a bowl with a can of pumpkin and a half teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Pour batter into two muffin tins with paper liners and bake at 350˚ for about 20 minutes. Use canned cream cheese frosting once the cupcakes have cooled. Put a piece of candy corn on top of each cupcake, if desired.
If you prefer pumpkin cake, simply pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes. (Search for pumpkin cupcakes at realsimple.com.)
No-bake pumpkin swirl cheesecake will add a touch of class to your after-dinner table and it will save some stress since it’s a make-ahead dessert. And at only 179 calories per serving, you won’t feel like you’ve completely destroyed your pre-New Years’ resolution.
Mix crushed graham crackers and melted butter, then press them into an 8-inch springform pan; cover and place in the refrigerator. While the crust chills, make the pumpkin and cream cheese fillings. Then simply pour the pumpkin filling into the crust and follow with the cream cheese filling. Gently swirl with a knife. Cover and chill overnight. (Visit diabeticlivingonline.com for complete recipe.)
Perfect as a holiday hors d’oeuvres, evening coffee companion or breakfast splurge, pumpkin bread is both easy and delicious. My favorite recipe is Brother Boniface’s Pumpkin Bread, from the January 1998 issue of Southern Living. It’s as simple as mixing all the ingredients together and pouring the batter into two greased and floured loaf pans.
Aside from some of the spices, you probably have most of the ingredients sitting in your pantry. Flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, eggs, oil, water and pumpkin make the base. Toss in some cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger followed by a few pecans, and you’re ready to bake at 350˚ for an hour. Serve with spreadable cream cheese. (Search for this recipe at myrecipes.com.)
Whether you need something for fourth graders or forty-somethings, these recipes are sure to please you and your guests because they are both simple and delicious.