Wednesday, October 19, 2016


As one of the most popular crops in the United States, there are a whopping 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins produced each year.  Pumpkins have so many uses – decorations, food, body care – so celebrate the many uses of pumpkins with a Spa Tea Party featuring this orange sensation!

Decorations are fun to create with miniature pumpkins which are about 3-4 inches.  Using a votive candle, trace a circle on the top of the pumpkins and carefully cut out a hole so the votive will fit snugly.  These can be use as the focal point of a centerpiece floating in a bowl of water or at individual place settings or both.  They make a cute take-home favor too.

For culinary use the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) is perfect.  An heirloom variety that is 6-10 lbs. with a buff colored skin (pictured above) and most of all its silky texture and sweet taste.  To roast the pumpkin, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and strings and place hollow side down in a baking pan with a little water.  Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until fork tender.  Cool, then scrape out pulp and puree.  Line a strainer with cheesecloth and let the pumpkin drain the extra moisture before using in recipes.  Of course, canned pumpkin can be used in all the recipes to cut preparation time.


Creamy Pumpkin Soup: Melt 2Tbs butter add 1 medium sweet onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender and caramelized, approximately 15 minutes. Add 1 chopped leek, 1/2c celery root, 2 tart peeled & chopped Granny Smith apples and 1/2c chicken or vegetable broth then steam until veggies are soft.  Add 3c pumpkin, 1/2tsp grated fresh ginger, 1tsp fresh thyme, 1tsp crumbled fresh sage, 1/4tsp ground nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Purée soup until very smooth and creamy.  Garnish with a swirl of crème fraîche and maple syrup and top with Maple-Candied Pumpkin Seeds.

Maple-Candied Pumpkin Seeds: Toss 1c pumpkin seeds with 2Tbs maple syrup and spread seeds out in a single layer on a butter greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and caramelized.


Pumpkin-Leek Tartlets: Melt 2Tbs butter, add 1/2c chopped leek, and cook until leeks are soft.  Set aside to cool.  Combine 1c pumpkin, 2/4c evaporated milk, 3 eggs, 1tsp fresh thyme, salt & pepper, then whisk well and stir in cooled leeks.  Using premade pie crusts and a 2 ½” biscuit cutter, cut out 24 circles, press into mini-muffin cups and divide filling between cups.  Top each with a diced prosciutto.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until set.   Let cool 5 minutes and remove tarts from pans. Garnish with fresh thyme.

Turkey & Tea Sandwiches:  Blend together 1 stick butter, 1Tbs maple syrup, 1tsp ground Earl Grey tea and a pinch of salt.  Shred ½ peeled Granny apple, toss with 1tsp fresh lemon juice and squeeze out excess liquid before mixing into butter.  Spread apple butter mixture onto 8 pumpernickel bread slices, top with smoked turkey and another slice of bread.  Trim crusts and cut into 4 triangles.

Sweet-n-Savory Ham Sandwiches: Combine 8oz cream cheese with 1/4c Dijon Mustard.  Spread on wheat bread, top with thinly sliced smoked ham and spread with apricot jam, then top with white bread.  Trim crusts and cut into 4 triangles.

Cheddar-Chutney Pinwheels:  Combine 1 (9-ounce) jar mango chutney, 2c grated cheddar cheese, 4oz cream cheese, salt and pepper.  Spread on flour tortillas, roll up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  To serve: slice into 6-1” pieces from center of roll up and discard ends.

Pimento Pinwheels: Combine 2c shredded Colby-Jack cheese, 2Tbs mayonnaise, 2tsp Dijon mustard and ½ - 4oz jar pimento peppers in a food processor and process until smooth.  Spread on flour tortillas, roll up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  To serve: slice into 6-1” pieces from center of roll up and discard ends.


Basic Scones: Combine 2 c flour, 1/3 c sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine an egg and 1/2c sour cream or yogurt until well blended, and then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened.  Knead on floured surface until dough holds together.  Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 wedges.  Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins or until golden brown.
      Pumpkin Scones: Follow directions for basic scones adding 1tsp pumpkin pie spice to dry flour mixture and combining 1/2c pumpkin puree instead of yogurt with egg.
     Spiced Ginger-Currant Scones: Follow directions for basic scones adding 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/8tsp allspice, and 2tsp minced crystalized ginger to the flour mixture.  Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then add 1/2c currants.


Pumpkin Crunch Tea Cakes:  Combine 1 yellow cake mix, 2tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1 1/2c pumpkin puree then whisk until just mixed. Pour into greased mini muffin tins sprinkle with a combination of 1/2c chopped pecans, 1/2c flour and 2Tbs melted butter and bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins.

Pumpkin Mousse Tartlets:  Combine 1 1/2c pumpkin, 1/2c confectioners’ sugar, 2Tbs heavy whipping cream, 3/4tsp ginger, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp allspice, 1/4tsp salt, and 1/8tsp nutmeg and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook for 5 minutes to mellow spices, then add 1/2tsp vanilla extract.  Cool completely.  Add 1/4c mascarpone cheese to pumpkin mixture and then divide evenly among 32 phylo tartlet shells.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Serve topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with a combination of 6 ground gingersnaps, 1Tbs butter and 1Tbs sugar.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles:  Combine 1c butter, 1 1/4c sugar and 2 eggs together in a food processor then blend in 1/4c pumpkin puree and add a combination of 3c flour, 2tsp cream of tartar, 1tsp baking soda and 1/4tsp salt just until incorporated.  Shape dough into 1” balls, roll into mixture of 1/4c sugar and 2Tbs pumpkin pie spice and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Pumpkins are rich in alpha-hydroxy acids, loaded with antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C and are often referred to as “nature’s natural collagen,” plus remove toxins that are stuck deep in pores.  Good for hydrating dry skin due to its essential fatty acids, pumpkin can be just as beneficial in controlling excess oil.  For a Spa Tea Party use a couple homemade pumpkin body care products on hands, although they are great for exfoliating plus soothing and softening all your skin.  Relax with a cup of healthy green tea while they do their magic and end the afternoon with a chocolate & pumpkin dessert!  

Honey Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask: Puree 2tsp diced pineapple and then add 4Tbs pumpkin puree, 1Tbs honey and 2tsp aloe vera gel and mix well.  Stir in 1/2tsp coconut oil, 1tsp green tea and 4tsp cornmeal.  Apply small amount of pumpkin mask in circular motion to gently buff skin. Repeat, applying more mask as needed and leave on for 15-20 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and pat dry with soft towel.  May be stored in refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Pumpkin Body Butter: Combine 1/2c pumpkin puree, 1/2c coconut milk solids and 1/2tsp cinnamon.  Apply generously to clean skin and massage gently into the skin.  Allow to remain on for 10 mins, then rinse with warm water and pat dry.


Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake: Combine 1c buttermilk, 1 1/2c pumpkin puree and 3/4c dark brown sugar with an electric mixer on low speed.  Beat in 2 eggs and then stir in 1/4c oil, 1/4c light corn syrup, 1tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1Tbs vanilla. Gradually add a German chocolate cake mix, stirring until just combined. Transfer the batter to a greased 12-cup Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 2 hours.  Combine 1/2c confectioners’ sugar and 1Tbs buttermilk until completely smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the top; garnish with mini chocolate chips and/or chopped toasted nuts while the glaze is still moist.
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
Proverbs 11:25

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