A Pumpkin Dinner Party

This past weekend friends of ours offered to host a pumpkin-themed dinner party at their house in celebration of fall eventually arriving here in Texas. We volunteered to make pumpkin appetizers and dessert and they made a pumpkin entrée and drink. In hopes that other parts of the country are finally feeling more like fall, and to help get you in the mood of the season even if it's still 80s where you are too, I thought I'd share the recipes and any tweaks we each made in case you'd like to host your own pumpkin-themed dinner party.

Appetizer - Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Pastries (adapted from Arctic Garden Studio)
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. goat cheese

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup butter substitute (I used smart balance), chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
3 tbsp heavy cream

1 egg, beaten
sesame and onion seeds (optional)

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until onions become soft, about 4 minutes. In a medium size bowl mix together all filling ingredients, except goat cheese. Set aside to cool while making dough.

Place flour, salt and butter in a large bowl. Use a butter knife and fork to combine ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse meal. You will want a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Whisk together egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Add the mixture into the dry ingredients. Work the mixture into the dough with the fork. The dough will form quickly, if it does not come together add 1 tsp of cream at a time until it does. Press together  to form a ball, cover with plastic film and keep on the fridge for at least 15 minutes. (I actually skipped this step and it worked out just fine.)

Preheat oven to 350F˚. Place dough on a well floured surface and roll it out into a 1/8 inch thin layer. Using a 4 inch biscuit cutter (or pizza cutter like I did) cut the dough and place half the pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place a teaspoon of pumpkin filling in the center of the pieces on the baking sheet, place a small piece of goat cheese on top. Wet the edges of the dough using your finger and a little water. Top with a second piece of dough. Crimp down the edges using a fork. Re-roll the remaining scraps of dough and continue until all the dough is used. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame and onion seeds (optional) and bake for 30 minutes or until golden in color. Enjoy with some pumpkin beer!

Entrée - Pumpkin Chicken Curry (adapted from Bon Appetit)
2 tablespoons olive oil     
1 cup sliced onion    
1 tablespoon minced ginger    
1 tablespoon minced garlic    
1 plum tomato, chopped    
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée    
2 cups vegetable broth    
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk    
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder    
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper    
1 cup  pumpkin, roasted and diced    
1 pound chicken, cubed and sautéed     
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice 
Steamed brown rice
Lime zest    

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and  ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in plum tomato and pumpkin purée; cook, stirring frequently, until pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, chicken, and lime juice. Simmer until chicken is cooked and squash is warm. Serve with steamed rice. Top with lime zest.  

Dessert - Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (adapted from The Vintage Mixer
1.5 cups of crushed ginger snap cookies (I find gluten-free cookies work best for crusts) 
5 Tb butter (or smart balance/butter substitute), melted

4 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz good quality, dark chocolate

Crush gingersnap cookies in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and use the end of a glass cup). Then mix the crumbs with the butter. Press this mixture into a pie plate and up the sides, using a fork or spatula.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then the cream. Transfer 1 cup of the filling to a bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate. Pour the rest of the pumpkin filling into the crust. Dollop the chocolate filling on top and swirl it in with a butter knife. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the custard is set. Cover the crust with strips of foil if it browns too quickly. Cool the pie on a wire rack completely before serving. For extra oomph, serve with a dollop of homemade cinnamon whipped cream.

Drink - Warm Pumpkin Pie Cocktail (adapted from Chatelaine)
4 cup pressed apple cider
2 cup pumpkin purée
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
A few cloves
Pinch of Ginger
1/2 cup spiced dark rum
Homemade cinnamon whipped cream (optional topping)

Whisk apple cider, pumpkin purée and pumpkin-pie spice in a large saucepan on high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 min. Strain into a large bowl. Discard purée.  Stir rum into pumpkin mixture. Divide among 4 mugs and garnish with dollops of whipped cream. Sprinkle with pumpkin-pie spice or cinnamon if desired.

I hope you're enjoying slightly cooler weather and the fall season! And I hope you get a chance to try at least one of these wonderful pumpkin recipes. Every one of them turned out delicious, and by the end of the evening, I still wasn't tired of pumpkin and all the fall-inspired seasonings.