Something Different
Week of: October 17, 2011
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Who's That Yummy, Funny Pumpkin Face?

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

As if Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and email do not offer enough distraction, now I am also following Amazon's Cooking Forum.

This began last fall, when I got hooked into the "What Else Can I Do W/ Canned Pumpkin" thread. This discussion, with posts from serious and creative cooks, kept me tuning in for nearly a year. It also reminded me of a favorite book, Half a Can of Tomato Paste and Other Cooking Dilemmas. Forum ideas for using canned pumpkin were as clever as those from the cookbook authors, Jean Anderson and Ruth Becker – employing all leftover bits that otherwise linger in the fridge until they mold over.

The shared recipes and suggestions for using canned pumpkin now number 100-plus. They include meatless black bean chili, ravioli, gnocchi, pasta sauce, hummus, soup, smoothies, whoopie pies and nearly every other kind of baked good. Using canned pumpkin as an egg-replacer in baking, like applesauce, seems like another idea worth trying.

In a fever of excitement over Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, I shared a recipe for Pumpkin Juice more for fun – it contains too much sugar from fruit juices to consume in quantity. But next summer, I plan to work out an iced tea version that is less sweet. Perfecting this iconic drink is a worthy endeavor because of the four grams of fiber and sky-high vitamin A in a serving.

Pumpkin pancakes, of course are mentioned in the forum, which inspired me to create pancakes for the season. With or without funny faces, they are just right for Halloween. Maple cider syrup adds another treat, and a trick – guests think it is maple syrup until they taste its uniquely autumnal crisp and tangy sweetness.

Pumpkin Jack O'Lantern Pancakes

Pumpkin Jack O'Lantern Pancakes

    1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups light (1 1/2 percent) buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the griddle
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • For garnish: Raisins, dried cranberries, dried currants, dried blueberries, dried cherries, red apple, mini chocolate chips

In medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, whisking to blend.

In another bowl, beat eggs. Add buttermilk, cider, melted butter and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry, mixing just to blend – better to leave some lumps than to over mix. Gently mix in pumpkin, leaving mixture slightly streaky to avoid over mixing.

Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water flicked onto surface ball and dance. Using paper towel, lightly rub surface with just enough butter to make it glisten. Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet, then lift pan and swirl to make a 3- to 4-inch disk. Repeat, leaving 1½ inches between pancakes. Cook until surface looks dull and peppered with tiny holes, about 2 minutes. Gently push dried fruit or pieces of apple into place to make eyes, nose and mouth. When pancakes are medium-dark on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, carefully turn using wide pancake turner. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip pancakes back to first side to get firmer on the bottom. Transfer to warm platter. Repeat, making 12 pancakes.

Makes 6 or 8 servings.

Note: If using chocolate chips, set them in place after turning the pancakes back face-side up

Maple Cider Syrup

  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

In heavy, medium saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon and cloves. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon and cloves; add maple syrup. Pour warm syrup into serving pitcher to pass with pancakes, waffles, French toast or bread pudding. Cooled, it is also good over oatmeal or Greek yogurt.

Makes 6 servings; serving size: 2 tablespoons.

Per serving (pancakes and syrup): 273 calories, 7 g fat (2 g sat fat), 48 g carbohydrates,
7 g protein, 3 g fiber, 211 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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