Bernie Pumpkin.jpg

Marbled pumpkin chocolate cake and pork pumpkin enchiladas make use of the season's bounty and showcase the flexibility of pumpkin. 

'Tis the season for pumpkins, and though pumpkins are a fun product to use for Halloween, there are so many ways you can enjoy them other than for decorating purposes. Pumpkin lends itself to a variety of uses.

Although pumpkin pie probably makes the top of the list, pumpkin bread would come in second, and a whole list of other desserts follows. However soups, main and side dishes and snacks (such as toasted or seasoned pumpkin seeds), can also be enjoyed by pumpkin-eaters. Though we eat more pumpkin in the fall and winter, we can enjoy it year-round as it can be preserved by canning, freezing or drying, and is available in the canned form year-round in grocery stores.

Besides tasting good, we can also enjoy the fact that pumpkin has important nutritional benefits. It is low in calories, is loaded with Vitamin A/beta-carotene (over 200 percent of the US recommended daily allowance), potassium, and some iron and fiber. For a selection of additional ways you can become more of a pumpkin-eater, explore the internet for a selection of recipes.

Pork and pumpkin enchiladas

This recipe for enchiladas combines pumpkin puree with a spicy pork filling. If you prefer a less spicy filling, substitute a milder variety of diced tomatoes for the one with green chilies.

Servings: 6


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 – 1½ pounds pork tenderloin, cut into small pieces

1 small onion, chopped

1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 (14 oz.) can enchilada sauce (1⅔cups)

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

12 oz. canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree

1 (8 oz.) pkg. shredded Mexican four-cheese blend cheese (4 cups)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add pork; cook and stir 3 minutes. Add chopped onion and additional oil, if necessary. Add tomatoes and chili powder; cook and stir 2 minutes. In a 3 quart rectangular baking dish coat bottom with ⅓ cup enchilada sauce. Stack tortillas, wrap in damp paper towels and microwave 40 seconds or until softened. Top a tortilla with 1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin, ¼ cup pork mixture, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Roll up; place seam-side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese; cover. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, your favorite salsa, and chopped cilantro. Source: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, November 2014.

Marbled pumpkin chocolate cake

Pumpkin and chocolate make a great flavor combination. Using a purchased cake mix simplifies the process in making this moist bundt cake. Frosting is not required; just serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. If desired, drizzle the top with a chocolate glaze.


1 cup pumpkin

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

¾ cup sour cream (can use low-fat)

⅓ cup oil

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup water

3 oz. dark chocolate, melted (if using chocolate chips, 3 oz. equals ½ cup chips)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Powdered sugar, optional


Combine pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil and water in large mixer bowl; beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on high speed 2 minutes. Remove one-half cake mixture to separate bowl; stir in pumpkin mixture; combine well. Stir melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder into remaining cake batter; mix well. Alternately spoon chocolate and pumpkin batters into greased and floured 10-cup bundt or round tube pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; remove cake to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Source: Adapted from “Pumpkin Eaters”, Over 200 Delicious Pumpkin-Based Recipes! by Christine Spicer Greene.

Pumpkin cake roll

A pumpkin cake roll is one of my favorite desserts to enjoy during the fall. Cake rolls are not difficult to make and yet look impressive. I think a cake roll is probably easier to make than a layer cake. The sponge-type cake is baked in a sheet or jelly-roll pan, than turned out onto a towel that has been coated with powdered sugar, and rolled while it is still warm. The filling is added later and then the cake is rolled again. Try this pumpkin version with a cream cheese frosting for the filling, and impress your family and friends.

Servings: 10


3 eggs

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

⅔ cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Powdered sugar

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

⅓ cup butter, softened

1½ teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups powdered sugar


Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment paper; grease paper. Set pan aside. In a small bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. Beat in flour mixture on low to medium speed just until combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake 12 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen edges of cake from pan and turn cake out onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove waxed paper. Roll towel and cake together into a spiral, starting from the short side of the cake. Cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the 1½ cups powdered sugar. Unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling to within 1 inch of the edges. Roll up cake; trim ends. Cover and chill for 2 to 48 hours. If desired, cake can be filled with whipped cream instead of the frosting. Source: Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publication “Fall Baking”, 2013.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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