Kachemak Cuisine: First frost means time for pumpkin treats

There is frost on the pumpkin. That chilly fall nip is in the air and the change in the weather has our winter-loving family looking for that first snowfall of the season.

Autumn is my favorite time of year to be in my kitchen by far. I love the rich warm scents of the spices that are added to apple, pumpkin and squash recipes, filling the house with the sweet scents of home. The memories of enjoying the special recipes made during this time of the year make me want to cook more than ever.

I want to make caramel corn, chili, pumpkin sausage pasta, apple pie, and pot roast with gravy and mashed potatoes. Don’t forget about caramel apples. Bring on the cool weather — I will be in my warm kitchen making good things to eat.

Fall also brings football games and sweaters, reading good books by crackling fires and baking cookies.

I mixed up a batch of these delicious cookies this weekend while the Other Fisherman was watching Sunday night football. They have a cake consistency and are not too sweet, so the candy-like penuche frosting complements them perfectly. Don’t expect them to be around long, as they are that good. A cup of coffee or tall glass of milk are a perfect accompaniment. I totally forgot how yummy these cookies are.

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche Frosting

Ingredients for the cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the frosting:

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup pecans, chopped, optional

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the cookies: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and egg and mix well. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

For the frosting: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Let cool for 10 minutes. Slowly add the milk and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Spread the frosting over the cookies and sprinkle with the pecans if using.

Pumpkin isn’t just for jack o’ lanterns and pie. Try an easy and delicious dish with pumpkin and pasta for a quick week night meal. It’ll convince you that pumpkin belongs in savory dishes as well. I’ve made a delicious pumpkin soup, decadent pumpkin lasagna, and have added roasted pumpkin to creamy risotto and hearty stews.

This satisfying fall family recipe is easy to make, taking less than 30 minutes. The pumpkin flavor in this dish is light and slightly sweet, while the touch of nutmeg and sage add wonderful complimentary fall flavors. The golden hued sauce is luscious and creamy on the pasta and the prosciutto adds crispy bites of salty and savory goodness. A sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan just before serving finishes this dish perfectly. Serve it with a tossed green salad.

When I make a pasta dish it transports me back to Italy. I can just close my eyes and picture myself and a dear friend in Tuscany. We are dining together at a café, sitting at a little table with a red and white checked tablecloth outdoors, on a cool autumn evening enjoying a wonderful life, good food and great friendship.

Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni with Prosciutto and Sage

4 servings


12 ounces rigatoni

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 ounces prosciutto, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni according to the package directions, or until al dente. Drain, reserving about a cup of the water the rigatoni was cooked in.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring until it begins to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin, nutmeg, cream and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the rigatoni and half the crisped prosciutto to the skillet and toss to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Divide the pasta among four plates and garnish with the remaining prosciutto and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy cooking with the delicious ingredients and eating the wonderful dishes of autumn.

This pumpkin pasta made by Teri Robl on Oct. 29, 2018, in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen shows new ways of using pumpking in a dish. (Photo by Teri Robl)

This pumpkin pasta made by Teri Robl on Oct. 29, 2018, in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen shows new ways of using pumpking in a dish. (Photo by Teri Robl)

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