Category Archives: Appetizers & Snacks

‘Tis the Season for Pumpkin Dip

I know that autumn has really arrived when….

  • the temperatures are cooler?
  • the leaves are changing?
  • the days are getting shorter?

Nope!  It is autumn in our home when I make the first batch of pumpkin dip of the season! I made my first batch on Sunday, and the Littlest Chef has been enjoying it all week in her lunches with apple or pear slices.

I don’t recall where I first saw this recipe. Versions abound, and it is quite likely that I saw it on a box of cream cheese.  The Littlest Chef was in Preschool, and we were asked to send a snack for a party.  I had seen this recipe and thought it looked very kid friendly.

Then, the drama ensued.  It seems that what struck me as a likely home run with the 3-year old set was not an obvious hit with the Littlest Chef.  She objected, sobbed, moaned and generally threw a fit of epic proportions over the idea that I was sending this to her Preschool.  If you’ve ever met the Littlest Chef, you know how rare such behavior is, and I was very surprised by it.  She insisted that her peeps wouldn’t like it.

I begged her to trust me on this one, and we sent a platter of pumpkin dip and sliced apples for dipping with one grumpy girl.  At the end of the day, the Preschool teacher handed me a platter practically licked clean and said that the children couldn’t stop eating it.  The Littlest Chef was grinning from ear to ear and asking whether I had any more of the pumpkin dip.  A favorite had been born!

I probably followed a recipe from a cream cheese package or the internet the first time I made this. However, now that it is a favorite, I feel I have some liberty to tweak it to make it better and certainly more healthy.  Most versions have a very high ratio of cream cheese to pumpkin (e.g., 2:1) and a lot more sugar than I like to use.  Also, many versions skimp on the yummy spices that make such recipes so delectable. My current recipe cuts back on fat and sugar and boosts the spice for a healthier version that still tastes like a sweet treat.

Healthier Pumpkin Dip

15 minutes

Number of servings: 16

Per Serving 61 calories

Fat 1 g

Carbs 12 g

Protein 1 g

16


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Ingredients

  • 4 oz low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 4 oz plain low fat yogurt
  • 14 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Optional: You could substitute 1-1/2 teaspoons of "pumpkin pie spice" for the spices in the recipe, but working with fresh, individual spices will typically provide more flavor. If you love ginger, add 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger.

Instructions

  1. Whip cream cheese and yogurt together until smooth.
  2. Add pumpkin and remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended.
  3. Serve with sliced apples, sliced pears or gingersnap cookies for dipping.

Something Old and Something New

We have started to see signs of fall, and summer officially ended this week, so I’ve had some of our favorite fall recipes on my mind.  Monday night’s dinner brought an old favorite with a seriously new twist:

butternut squash soup

crostini with blue cheese compound butter

I discovered this recipe for Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons last winter when I was trying to find new ways to use the squash that we were getting in our weekly produce delivery.  I typically omit the cream, and we don’t miss it at all.  This soup is great with the gruyere croutons described in the recipe, but I was inspired to pair the soup with blue cheese last year after I read this recipe for Butternut Squash an Apple Soup with Melted Blue Cheese.  Hence, our riff on the gruyere croutons. Since I typically don’t have apple cider in the house, I find the first squash soup recipe less complicated to make.  In this case, I made it the day before, and I only had to heat it up when I got home from work.

kale chips

These Tuscan Kale Chips were interesting.  In the words of my daughter, they were “the oddest thing I’d ever served!”  That said, we liked them quite a bit.  This recipe struck me as one of the many instances where cooking and chemistry really are one and the same.  Even if you don’t think you like greens like kale and chard, this one is worth a try!  It’s one of those recipes that I’ll pull out from time to time when I want to serve something novel to guests that can also serve as a conversation piece!