All Things Pumpkin ...and a Look Ahead to Thanksgiving

Food for Thought

By Jean Hecker

A Columnist for the Grapevine Newspaper

Every year, I start the search for all things pumpkin and I am starting early this year! I usually limit the search to pumpkin pie, but this year there seems to be a bumper crop of pumpkin food items out there and I don’t want you to miss a thing.
So far I’ve fallen in love with the pumpkin pancakes at The Black Olive on Brewster Road, the pumpkin canolis at Cascia’s Bakery on Route 54 just on the way into Hammonton, and the Iced Pumpkin Skim Latte at Dunkin Donuts. All have that great pumpkin flavor in their different mediums and I recommend them all. Then, I just got the ShopRite insert and wow—they have everything from Pumpkin Spiced Coffee to Pumpkin Pop Tarts to Nestle’s Pumpkin Toll House Morsels to Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies, and the “piece de resistance, Kraft’s Jet-Puffed Pumpkin-Spiced Marshmallows! Just think of the fabulous Smore’s you can make out of them!
What joy, what rapture! So many pumpkin treats and so little time!
After October, my pumpkin craving is usually satisfied and it’s time to move on to Thanksgiving! I know it’s a little early, but to get you into the Thanksgiving mode and help you plan ahead, here is a very delicious stuffing recipe for this year’s turkey! I made it last year and it was just delicious! Be sure to make enough for your leftover turkey sandwiches!
Dried Apple, Sausage and Toasted Pecan Stuffing
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups minced onion
2 cups finely diced celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 to 10 cups dried cubed bread ( I use Pepperidge Farms white loaf and toast each slice)
1-1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 cup chopped dried apples (do not use hard apple chips)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley - I use curly variety
1 tbsp each minced fresh thyme, and sage
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper
1 to 2 cups turkey stock
Cook sausage over moderate heat until no longer pink, transfer to large bowl. Discard fat, add butter and saute onions, celery, and garlic until just soft. Add to sausage. Add the remaining ingredients except stock to the bowl and mix well. Add enough stock to moisten.
Place mixture in oven-proof casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350' for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes, add a little more stock if needed. This will make about 12 cups of stuffing.
Jean Hecker is a full-time travel agent at Magic Carpet Travels and a part-time foodie. She has a BA in Home Economics Education from Rowan University and enjoys exploring all facets of the food and restaurant industry.

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