During the holidays, Pinterest is my go-to recipe index. You can always find a plethora of dishes to cook for any meal or party, or to give as gifts to friends, family and neighbors.
One simple search on the Food & Drink section of Pinterest will turn up an overwhelming number of pumpkin recipes, and I'm not talking about different ways to make pumpkin pie. You can make practically any dish you can imagine with a can of pumpkin purée, but the real question is, should you?
I decided to try my hand at five pumpkin recipes from Pinterest and have ranked them from worst to best. Here's how things played out.
5. Pumpkin Oatmeal
I absolutely love oatmeal, so the idea of adding canned pumpkin to milk, pie spice and sugar sounded incredible. However, this was probably the worst-tasting bowl of oatmeal I have ever had. The recipe calls for mixing 1/3 cup of quick-cooking oats with ¾ cup of milk and 2-4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin purée. After you cook the oatmeal mixture in the microwave for two minutes, or until it is as thick as you prefer, stir in sugar and ½ teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice. The first bite tasted like unsweetened canned pumpkin; maybe I added too much pumpkin to the mixture, but something else needs to be done to this recipe to make it taste better. If you want pumpkin oatmeal, I suggest sweetening the pumpkin mixture with sugar and spices before adding it to the oatmeal, and don't add more than two tablespoons -- the flavor is strong.
4. Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate
My biggest problem with this recipe is that it tastes like liquified pumpkin. Yuck! The only saving grace is the whole milk and melted white chocolate. The recipe says to cook canned pumpkin with whole milk and a variety of spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger), along with vanilla extract. Then, once it begins to simmer, add white chocolate and a pinch of salt. Even though the pumpkin purée is supposed to blend with the milk and the texture is supposed to be smooth, it feels like you're drinking canned pumpkin. Stick with regular hot chocolate or pumpkin spice lattes; this is NOT a holiday treat.
3. Pumpkin Pie in a Mug
Pinterest always has interesting mug recipes, so I decided to try one of the healthier ones. According to this Paleo recipe, you can make pumpkin pie in just two minutes. Unlike most mug recipes, this one has a crust made from a tablespoon each of melted butter, shredded coconut and almond flour. The pumpkin pie is made from ½ cup of pumpkin purée, one egg, ¼ teaspoon of stevia and a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Microwave the mug pie for two minutes, then continue to heat it in the microwave until the center is completely cooked. The pie is creamy, just like a real pumpkin pie, and the crust actually forms in the microwave, which is a plus, but it needs more sugar -- it's quite bland as it is. Top with whipped cream, nuts, honey and/or cinnamon for more sweetness. It's a good recipe, just needs more sugar.
2. Pumpkin Dip
Sometimes simple is best, and that's the case with this dip recipe from The Pig & Quill. Just heat half of a 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree with a cup of white chocolate chips in a small pot. Once the chocolate is completely melted and mixed in with the pumpkin, add a dash of salt and cinnamon, and you're done! At first, I was skeptical that a recipe with just four ingredients could taste good at all, but I was quite wrong. It's smooth and sweet and has the perfect amount of pumpkin -- not at all overwhelming, as the pumpkin was in the other recipes I made. Serve it warm or cold with apple slices, grapes, cheese, pound-cake cubes and pretzels; it's perfect for a holiday get-together and can be made in less than ten minutes.
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1. Pumpkin Muffins
If you thought the previous recipe was easy, prepare to have your mind blown -- these pumpkin muffins use only two ingredients. Yeah, just two. One small can of pumpkin purée and one box of spice cake mix. That's it. No eggs, butter or oil, just cake mix and purée. If you want to "spice" things up, add a few teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, vanilla extract or even chocolate chips. Mix everything, then bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. These will be your new favorite holiday treat (if you haven't discovered them yet).