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{Recipe + Photo featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

Are there any other Fall-o-philes out there?  Sweaters?  Boots?  Soup and biscuits for dinner?  Roasted winter squash?  Um, YES, please.  Did you know pumpkin is a winter squash?  I grew up thinking pumpkins served two purposes: for Halloween to carve into jack-o-lanterns, and then, of course, for Thanksgiving in the form of pie.  Other than that, pumpkins were pretty superfluous.

Well, my friends, I am taking pumpkin by the stem for the month of October!  We are going full-pumpkin-ahead to pumpkin-ize any and every pumpkin-o-phile meatless main dish.  To start our pumpkiny journey:  creamy Pumpkin Basil Risotto.  Risotto is a fantastic vehicle for any vegetable addition.  In this case?   A Cinderella Pumpkin!  Serve your Cinderella Pumpkin Basil Risotto to your Prince Charming and it’ll pretty much guarantee he’ll be at your beck and call if your glass slippers–or dishes–need cleaning.

pumpkin basil risotto ingredients

I’ve only ever bought “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins for carving, and so I thought I’d try a variety of different pumpkins for my October dishes.   I’ve also always thought all pumpkins–winter squash–had a hard shell of a skin.  Imagine my surprise when I cut into the Cinderella Pumpkin and it sliced like butter!  I sliced off the skin just like cantaloupe!  I also usually use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds, but a normal spoon worked just fine!

pumpkin basil risotto cinderella pumpkin

You know my rule:  Prep all your ingredients and cook time will fly!

pumpkin basil risotto ingredients ready

Risotto isn’t difficult to make, but it does take a little time and love.  I made a super large pot because I love turning my leftover risotto into arancini, but I did cut the recipe in half, reflected in the written recipe.  One cup of rice goes a long way!

Remember the time and love?  Risotto gets so creamy because you take time to cook the rice, adding just a little bit of stock at a time, developing and coaxing the starch from the rice.  You wait until the stock gets cooked down and absorbed by the rice…

pumpkin basil risotto cooking 1

…Then add a little stock to just cover the rice, and cook some more.  Blow a kiss.  Repeat.

pumpkin basil risotto cooking 2

The rice will transform into a soft and creamy, pudding-like mixture.  I thought maybe the pumpkin would break down into mush because it was so soft to cut, but it kept its shape and became this super smooth velvety texture that perfectly matched the creamy rice.  I did add parmesan cheese to mine (believe me, it’s totally worth the splurge to buy the real stuff instead of the powdered green bottle stuff), but if you want to keep it vegan, just substitute Nutritional Yeast Flakes.  Top with fresh basil and roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, and you’ve got yourself a gourmet dinner fit for royalty.

pumpkin basil risotto finished 2

pumpkin basil risotto finished 1


  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium-ish, just because of time expenditure
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  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups Cinderella pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned, plus 2-3 more leaves (also julienned) for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Parmeggiano-Regiano cheese
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock


  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil, and saute the onion with salt and pepper to taste on medium heat.  When the onion is translucent, add the rice and pumpkin and saute 5-10 more minutes and lower the heat to low.
  2. Add 2-3 cups of vegetable stock, until the rice is just covered, and 1/4 cup of julienned basil.  Allow to come to a boil, and let cook and reduce until nearly all the stock has reduced.  Add another 1-2 cups of stock and let cook and reduce.  Continue adding stock, one cup at a time, and reducing, until the rice has transformed into a creamy soft mixture, about 30-40 minutes.  When you add the final cup of stock, let it reduce just enough to be a thin, pudding-like mixture.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.  To serve, garnish with fresh julienned basil and roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.


Leftovers 101

If you often have leftover rice, noodles, or polenta like I do, and you would rather forego the bland-nuked-next-day meal, I am creating a new category:  LEFTOVERS!  Welcome to turning yesterday’s meal into today’s 2.0 dinner.

Today’s Leftover post:  Polenta.  Remember those enormous grilled polenta squares?  I made a cake pan of polenta and used two huge squares for the grilled meal, and had two more leftover.  I cut those squares into four smaller squares, totaling 8, pan-fried them, and decided to go with a Moroccan topper.  I’ll be honest, I love the fragrant, warm and deep Moroccan flavors, but it isn’t something I can simply throw together, so I definitely needed some help.  The Moroccan Rice Pilaf recipe is from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook, and the Spiced Cauliflower is from the Better Homes & Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good Magazine (Do you get sucked into those check-out counter grocery store magazines as quickly as I do?)

Assembly line prep makes for quick and easy fried polenta squares!  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, cloud-soft and dreamy-creamy on the inside.

pan fried polenta 1 pan fried polenta 2

All you need is a little flavor added to your leftover rice, and you have a whole new meal.

pan fried polenta moroccan rice ingredients

Pile high, and enjoy!

pan fried polenta and moroccan rice 2 pan fried polenta and moroccan rice 1

{I am going to post three separate recipes for each of the different leftover components}


  • Servings: 4, plan on 2 squares per person
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Leftover polenta that has been formed and cooled in a square cake pan (just a head’s up, you need to cut the polenta into small squares)
  • 1 cup flour, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in


  1. Cut the polenta into 8 small squares and place on a paper towel to soak up any extra liquid.  Using another paper towel, dab the tops of your squares to make sure they are extra dry.
  2. While the polenta squares are resting on the paper towel, prepare three separate shallow bowls, one with the seasoned flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the seasoned Panko bread crumbs.  (You can use the plain Italian bread crumbs instead of panko, if you’d like, I just love pan-frying with panko because I personally feel like it yields a crispier texture.)
  3. One square at a time, coat all sides with the flour, then move to the egg and coat completely with the egg, then move to the bread crumbs and coat all sides.  After coating, let rest on a cooling rack until all your squares are coated and ready to fry.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Pan-fry four squares at a time, flipping when they are golden brown.  Brown the other side.  You can serve with the recommended Moroccan rice and spiced cauliflower, or a simple side of marinara sauce.


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home


  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover brown, white, or basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted


  1. In a large pot or skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper with salt and pepper to taste until they are just tender.  Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice or nutmeg, and dates.  Let the spices heat until you can smell them, about 30-60 seconds.  Add the rice, parsley, and water.  Heat through and stir in the toasted almonds.


  • Servings: 4 one cup servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy Better Homes and Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good 


  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets, trimmed
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. In a small bowl combine mustard, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper; set aside.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add cauliflower and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add sweet pepper and green onions, cook for another minute or two.  Reduce heat to medium and add the mustard spice mixture.  Cook and stir until you can smell the spices, about 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the water and let everything come together.