Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Daze

I know that after a two week absence, I should probably be posting some sort of fantastic, moving yet funny, picture filled post that comes with a free pattern. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to have something to that affect, I'm going to do this post instead. It was on my mind over the weekend, and I'm going to get it out of my system.

I love Fall--the decorations that start to go up (be they Halloween or inappropriately early Christmas decorations), the spirit of anticipation, and the way that I get a chill just listening to the wind gusting outside. (That might also be the air conditioner.)

One of my favorite things about fall, though, is the fact that come September, you can find pumpkin flavored stuff Everywhere. I'm wild for pumpkin--real or fake, salty or savory, on its own or mixed in with oodles of other yummy things.

Most people anticipate a struggle with their weight during the holidays because of Turkey feasts and rampant baking. For me, it is all about the pumpkin.

Fact: I have had at least six pumpkin lattes since I spotted the telltale sign go up late August. I don't think I have six lattes in the rest of the year--let alone that many in a little over a month.

Sometime in the last two or so years, someone high up--or actually, many someones high up--noticed that I'm not the only one who suddenly becomes a latte junky the second they roll out the pumpkin syrup. This year, there are more pumpkin products on shelves and menus than ever, and I am reveling in it.

Because I am positively preoccupied with pumpkin (yeah, that made me gag a little bit, too), here is a list of my top 10 favorite pumpkin products. You will notice that I do not mention homemade pumpkin pie on the list. Please trust that this isn't because I am not completely gaga over it--it is by far my favorite of all pumpkin foods--I just wanted to focus on commercial items.

10. Mellowcream Pumpkins-- Yes, I know that these are not actually a pumpkin food--they are candy corn's hyper delicious cousin. In a world of miniature snickers, tiny bags of skittles, and teensy rolls of life savers, these pumpkins are the candy par excellence. Your mileage may vary.

9. Pumpkin Delights-- Like mellowcream pumpkins, these snacks contain very little actual pumpkin. However, they are still scrumptious enough to serve at your next fall themed fete. I may or not refer to these as Pumpkin Pasties around my house...

8. Store bought pumpkin pie--(See what I did there) Though not anywhere near as flavorful and satisfying as my Mom's homemade pie, store bought pumpkin pie is still a delicious alternative to being pumpkin pie free. After years of testing, I've found that Fresh Market's pie is the best of the grocery store alternatives--although both Publix and Whole Foods do pretty well.

7. Pumpkin Bread-- Again, this is best homemade, but the store variety is still yummy. I'm putting pumpkin muffins in this category, as they don't differ much in terms of flavor.

6. Pumpkin Ice cream --I would place this higher on the list, but unfortunately not all pumpkin ice creams are alike. My favorite version ever came from a small mom and pop shop out in California that made homemade pumpkin ice-cream. Unfortunately most of the big brands only sell pumpkin pie ice-cream or, worse, pumpkin cheesecake. While these are both pretty tasty, these varieties get weighed down by chunks of crust mixed into the batter, and overwhelming non-pumpkin flavors like vanilla or cream cheese.

5. Pumpkin whoopie pies-- I get mine from Fresh Market, and they pretty much taste like a dream. A cake cookie made of pumpkin with a layer of frosting in the middle--what isn't to love? I haven't been able to yet, but I'm dying to try these.

4. Pumpkin Spice Soy Milk-- Like my fiance, you may be loathe to try this stuff. However, there is a reason that it is one of the few products with so little actual pumpkin content to make it this far down the list. It is crazy delicious--smooth and not too cloying, with a very nice pumpkin-y flavor and a good blend of spices. I also highly recommend Silk's soy Egg Nog--it isn't as heavy as regular Egg Nog, but it's just as delicious.

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake--I've linked to Olive Garden's pumpkin cheesecake rather than any other brands for three reasons: the ginger cookie crumbles provide a nice contrast, they drizzle it with caramel sauce (my favorite companion for pumpkin pie), and my first piece this year contained large spots of pure, un-cheesecake-adulterated pumpkin pie flavored goodness.

2. Pumpkin Latte-- I'm not going to link this one because there are so many to choose from. Starbucks may have marketed the first big name one, but these puppies are popping up in just about every coffee shop you can find. I will, however, link to this search page of homemade latte recipes. I haven't tried any of them yet, but they look delicious.

1. Pumpkin Bagels--Einstein Bros. gets the link because that is where I tried my first pumpkin bagel. They have two varieties right now: an ultimate pumpkin bagel that skews sweet, and a plain pumpkin bagel. I tried the plain pumpkin with my requisite garlic and herb low fat cream cheese--it was a pumpkin experience unlike any other. I paired with a pumpkin spice latte (there's are my favorite, officially) for the ultimate pumpkin breakfast. I've been bugging Daniel to go again for a whole week.

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