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Pumpkin meant for more than pie

It’s fall and that means pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins to decorate, to carve and especially to eat.

Pumpkin pie is the recipe that most often comes to mind, but I’m not the biggest fan of the pumpkin pie. The following recipes are all easy, fun and they go a long way in proving that pumpkin is for more than just pies.

Note: You can use the fresh or canned pumpkin interchangeably in the following recipes and I offered some nondairy suggestions for the lactose intolerant since there are always a few family members or friends with the issue.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

10 ounces Italian or French bread, torn into small pieces, about 5 cups

2 cups half-and-half, or half milk and half cream or rice milk

4 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree or 2 cups fresh puree

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a bowl, combine the bread with the half-and-half. Mix to combine and set aside. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugars, pumpkin, raisins, pecans, melted butter, spices and vanilla; blend well.

Pour pumpkin mixture over soaked bread and mix to blend. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cinnamon-sugar. Bake, uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes, or until set. Serves 8.

Pumpkin Bisque

This recipe works equally well with vegetable stock and non-dairy creamer as it does with chicken stock.

Olive oil

1 white onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

2 cups pumpkin puree

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Bay leaf

Pinch sugar

1/3 teaspoon curry powder, or to your taste

Pinch nutmeg

2 cups rice or soy milk or half-and-half

Salt and pepper

Toasted coconut

In a stock pot slowly sauté onion and garlic in the oil until they are transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and chicken stock, bay leaf, sugar, curry and nutmeg and mix well. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook 20 to 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Add half-and-half and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Blend in batches in blender. Strain through a fine strainer. Reheat gently, and serve with toasted coconut. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@frontier.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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