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Butternut Squash Blue Cheese Gratin with Walnut Rosemary Crumble

November 10, 2017
Butternut Squash Blue Cheese Gratin with Walnut Rosemary Crumble Recipe |

A few years ago, I posted about a really great pumpkin dish I had when we were living in southern Brazil. Pumpkin is used there year round, and not solely associated with fall and the holidays as it is in the U.S. So I’d often find it on the lunch buffets, a popular business dining option during the week. 

So this dish I speak of combined roasted pumpkin and Gorgonzola cheese. It was the best combination with the sweet pumpkin and pungent cheese. 

I made it the same way that I could guess it was made there, but ever since that encounter I’ve envisioned a more exciting and luxurious version. Perhaps one with a different winter squash, fit for the holiday table. 

I finally got around to acting on those visions this year.

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Pumpkin No Churn Ice Cream with Brown Sugar Swirl and Burnt Sugar Cashew Brittle

November 17, 2016
Pumpkin No Churn Ice Cream with Brown Sugar Swirl and Burnt Sugar Cashew Brittle Recipe | Fake Food Free

I tend to want ice cream more during the holidays than during the heat of summer. Forget the chocolate versus vanilla debate. When I eat ice cream, I want pumpkin, peppermint stick and eggnog flavors. Everything that says – holiday season. So when late fall rolls around, so do the ice cream cravings.

As you probably could have guessed pumpkin is my favorite flavor and I thought if I was going to do a few posts about Thanksgiving worthy desserts I should go that direction. But don’t worry. I took it a bit further with a brown sugar swirl and a crunchy topping. I also decided to give no churn ice cream a try.

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Stuffed Pie Pumpkin with Turkey, Cheddar and Spinach

November 8, 2016
Stuffed Pie Pumpkin with Turkey, Cheddar and Spinach Recipe | Pumpkin Recipes | Fake Food Free

I have pumpkins hidden all over the house.

You might think I’m kidding, I assure you, I am not. 

There are little decorative pumpkins hidden on the new shelves in our living room, a pie pumpkin on the desk in my office, and heirlooms on the front porch. I tend to be a minimalist in most areas of my life, but pumpkin collection is one thing that I take almost to hoarding levels. 

Of course, I have to rotate the stash occasionally. Out with the old and in with some new. And by out with the old I mean it’s time for them to be transformed into something edible. This little pie pumpkin was tucked on the second shelf of the plant stand in the dining room and it was his time to go. 

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Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Pie for Two

November 24, 2015

This delicious pie is the final post in my series, Thanksgiving Cooking for Two. You’ll find the other recipes in this special series at the end of this post. 

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Pie Recipe for Two | Thanksgiving Cooking for Two | Fake Food Free
I am a huge pumpkin pie fan. I know it can be hit or miss with some people, but that’s not the case for me. If you line up a selection of pies, I might give chocolate meringue a second glance, but I will always pick pumpkin. 

There is a catch, though. I’m not crazy about the traditional, out of the can pumpkin, type of pie. My grandmother’s recipe will always be my favorite and if I can’t have that, well, it’s a pumpkin pie that I’ve gotten creative with. 

First, roasted, pureed pumpkin. It makes such a difference and it’s completely worth the minimal effort. Then, it needs a wow factor — a variation in the spices, a gingerbread crust, maybe a meringue topping. Give me any of those and pumpkin remains number one. 

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Pear and Red Walnuts

October 7, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pear and Red Walnuts Recipe | Fake Food Free
This butternut squash dish is not sweet. I repeat, this dish is not sweet.

If you are like me, no matter how many versions of winter squash you’ve made or been exposed to, your brain still thinks of nutmeg, cinnamon and maybe even maple, when you envision the rich, orange, tender squash.

Okay, I’ll admit that this does contain cinnamon. But cinnamon is one of those interesting spices that can swing sweet or savory. It this case, it’s savory. 

The secret to this recipe is some heat. You don’t have to burn your mouth off, but use at least a medium spicy chili powder. I could even see a chipotle chili powder working. When you use these deeply flavored spices you get a beautiful balance of slightly sweet squash, with earthy pear, a bit of heat and crunchy walnuts. 

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This September

September 22, 2015

Baby Turnips and Mushrooms | In studio at the Farm to Table Photography Workshop in Seattle | Fake Food Free

I’m usually not one to comment on how quickly or slowly the months go by. It varies for me from year to year. It all depends on what I have going on.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking a lot about this September. Mostly about how it came along quickly, after what felt like a long August, and now suddenly it’s almost gone. 

There are 3 very good reasons for this.

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Roasted Maple and Black Pepper Kabocha

September 9, 2015

Roasted Maple and Black Pepper Kabocha Recipe | Fake Food Free | Pumpkin and winter squash recipes.

If you are going to try and tell me it’s not fall yet, well, I don’t want to hear it. 

Yes, I know the calendar tells us it’s not until the 23rd, but pay no attention to the calendar. It’s always trying to rain on my parade by conflicting with my view of the seasons. 

It may be warm outside, but Labor Day is over and to me, it’s fall! Sweaters, boots, and scarves will soon be completely acceptable. 

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Pumpkin White Bean Dip with Cheddar and Jalapeños Recipe

October 6, 2014

This savory pumpkin recipe combines the puréed winter squash with white beans to create a warm dip with the rich flavors of sharp cheddar cheese and a mild heat from pickled jalapeños. It’s the perfect starter for fall dinner parties and makes a great snack for game day. 

 Pumpkin White Bean Dip with Cheddar and Jalapeños Recipe | Fake Food Free

I’ve already started on my 2014 Winter Squash Collection. The first one, usually a pie pumpkin, enters the house in late September or early October. After that it’s a spaghetti squash here, a kabocha there and I can’t turn down a new variety. They begin to pile up in the corners of the kitchen or on the cool tile in the entry way. I keep them until: 1) I’m hungry for squash, or 2) we get frustrated from tripping over them. At that point, into the oven they go to be roasted and turned into puree.

The small pie pumpkin I bought last week bit the dust pretty early. Half a week into October and I was way overdue for something pumpkin.

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Breakfast Farro with Kabocha and Coconut Milk Recipe

October 29, 2013
Breakfast Farro with Kabocha and Coconut Milk Recipe | Fake Food Free

When it comes to grains at breakfast, I love taking things beyond oats. A little sweetness and a few spices, and almost any whole grain makes a delicious morning meal. It can really break you out of an oatmeal rut.

I’ve made Gingered Pear Quinoa with Walnuts for breakfast, but this time around I had a new grain to work with – farro. I’m familiar with farro (a version of whole wheat), but this was my first time cooking it. It’s quickly becoming a new favorite.

I also had a kabocha squash that has been staring at me from the counter for a while, so I roasted it up to use throughout the week. The puree added the perfect touch to a sweet farro dish. Despite all the winter squashes I have tried, this was my very first kabocha. The texture and sweetness can’t be beat. I can definitely see what all the hype is about.

So there were a lot of firsts in this dish, but this won’t be the last time I make it. This was exactly the type of fall-inspired breakfast I’ve been craving.

Breakfast Farro with Kabocha and Coconut Milk

Makes: 4 servings


½ cup kabocha puree, warmed
2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
2 cups cooked farro, warmed
1/2 cup coconut milk, warmed
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts for garnish


In a small bowl, stir together the kabocha, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt.  

In each of 4 serving glasses, add about 1 tablespoon of the kabocha. Top with 1/2 cup farro and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk. Finish with 1/4 of the remaining kabocha and sprinkle with a 1/2 tablespoon of walnuts. 

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Places Worth Preserving – The Pumpkin Farm

October 7, 2013
          Pumpkin Patch | Fake Food Free

I can see them before I pull up to the entrance of the farm. They are specs of bright orange sunshine amid a sea of dry, brown brush. The excitement builds as I get closer and begin to make out the endless shapes and sizes. Some perfectly symmetrical, others with an odd bump here or a groove there that only adds to their character.

Picking a pumpkin is unlike any other garden harvest. It takes a good eye and a good bit of strength to find (and haul) the right one. First, I judge by size. I have to get this thing back to the front register to check out, so as tempting as those extra-large beauties may be, I have to leave those in the field for someone a bit stronger.

Next, they must be analyzed from every angle ensuring there is at least one good side to show off to the neighborhood. It may take a while to find one, but there is nothing I enjoy shopping for more than the perfect pumpkin.

Pumpkin Recipes | Fake Food Free

While I have memories of pumpkin hunting from my childhood, the appreciation of the local pumpkin patch is something I associate much more with as an adult. Fall is my favorite season, and there is nothing better than seeing the first signs in the form of a bright pumpkin.

When I was invited to participate in a special project with Frei Brothers Reserve to celebrate a place that I feel is worth preserving, the opportunity hooked me in right away. It was a tough decision. There are so many. But what is the one place that stands out most for me?

The local pumpkin farm.

Pumpkin Recipes | Fake Food Free

It’s not a place that is reserved for a lucky few that live in a specific region. It’s not tucked in the wooded hills of the East or along the rugged coastline of the Northwest. From Kentucky to California, and just about every state beyond and in between, when October arrives you can hear the laughter, smell the spiced cider and see the orange specs among the dry brush. It’s pumpkin season, and for me, this feeling and this special place is worth preserving.

As part of my participation in the Frei Brothers Reserve project, I was asked to create a meal around my place to preserve. So I roasted my first winter squash of the season, blended up the beautiful, sweet orange puree and prepared three courses in celebration of pumpkin with the help of Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay.

Autumn Salad with Pumpkin-Orange Dressing | Fake Food Free

 Autumn Salad with Pumpkin-Orange Dressing

Serves: 4

6 cups mixed greens
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup walnut halves
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh pumpkin puree
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ tsp salt
Pinch ground black pepper

Place the lettuce, cheese, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl.

Combine the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, pumpkin and garlic in a small food processor. Pulse until smooth. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide into 4 portions and serve.

Pork Scaloppini in White Wine Sauce over Handmade Pumpkin Pasta | Fake Food Free

Pork Scaloppini in White Wine Sauce over Handmade Pumpkin Pasta

Pairing tip: pair with Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay

Serves: 4

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3 ½ tbsp fresh pumpkin puree

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 pound pork scaloppini (about 8 thin slices)

¼ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

Combine the flour, 2 eggs and 3 ½ tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and kneaded just until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.

Let rest under a damp paper towel for 15 minutes. Follow your pasta maker instructions for rolling and cutting the pasta, or you can follow my guide for Beginner Homemade Pasta Making.

To cook the pasta, boil for 3 to 4 minutes in salted water, drain and set aside.


In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, almond meal, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and black pepper. In a separate shallow dish whisk together the milk and the 1 egg.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet or a similar skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each piece of pork in the egg and milk, and then into the bread crumbs, turning to coat it evenly.

Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, add the pork to the hot skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through.

Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Once all the pork is cooked, add the onion and garlic to the skillet and carefully pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan well as the wine boils and reduces for about 30 seconds.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and continue to scrape the pan until the butter melts. Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce.

To serve, add ¼ of the pasta to each serving plate. Top with 1 to 2 pieces of the scaloppini and garnish with ½ tablespoon of the chopped chives.

Pork Scaloppini in White Wine Sauce over Handmade Pumpkin Pasta | Fake Food Free
Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream | Fake Food Free

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

Serves: 4 to 6

2 cups 2% milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup raw sugar
5 tbsp fresh pumpkin puree
2 egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Combine the milk, cream, sugar and 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a heavy sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium and gently scald the milk, stirring often. The milk should begin to foam on the top, but it should not come to a full boil. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining pumpkin puree, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Temper the mixture by slowing pouring in ½ cup of the warm milk, while whisking vigorously.

Transfer the tempered egg mixture back to the pan of warm milk by pouring slowly and whisking constantly.
Return the pan to medium-low heat. Cook stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the milk begins to foam again, but do not allow it to come to a boil.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heat and freezer safe bowl (such as Pyrex). Place the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and stir the mixture until cool.

Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. (I sometimes put it in the freezer to speed up the process.)

Freeze in a counter-top ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream | Fake Food Free
Pumpkin Recipes | Fake Food Free
Pumpkin Recipes | Fake Food Free

What is your Place Worth Preserving? Frei Brothers Reserve is currently hosting a photo competition on Facebook for Places Worth Preserving in association with National Geographic Traveler. Every month between now and November, they are giving away prizes for photo entries including a grand prize trip to visit their winery at Frei Ranch in Sonoma County plus a stay in Yosemite National Park.

You can also check out a round-up of all the delicious Places Worth Preserving and wine inspired recipes at Kitchen PLAY.

Discloser: I was invited to participate in the Frei Brothers Reserve Places Worth Preserving project by Kitchen PLAY. This is a sponsored post. I received monetary compensation for this post and a bottle of wine to pair with my meal.