Pumpkin Showdown: And the Winner Is . . .

Was the Pumpkin Showdown our best cook-off yet? I think so, hands down.

Our enthusiasm for this seasonal ingredient started early. Well over a month ago, contributor Cyndi Coon started drumming up excitement for all things pumpkin at local restaurants, and before long, the whole Chow Bella staff was dreamily anticipating the flavors of fall. Considering that the temps were still hovering around 105 at that point, that's saying quite a lot. Ah, the power of imagination -- and hunger.

So everybody brought out their best pumpkin recipe for the whole group to enjoy, and for yours truly to judge. As much as I love the tasting part, picking a winner is never easy.

All of our recipes inspired a bit of fantasy. I'd happily have a slice of Cyndi's pumpkin chocolate chip cake as the grand finale to a roast chicken dinner. Hannah Williams' lovely pumpkin craisin muffins would taste great after work with a cold glass of milk.

Kelly Green's delicious cookies with brown sugar frosting would be a nice accompaniment to afternoon tea, or maybe a midnight snack. Carrie Wheeler's pumpkin curry, spooned over rice, sounds like dinner on a cool late October evening. Amy Silverman's pumpkin-swirl brownies would give me a chocolately boost with a strong cup of coffee. And I could pretty much bathe in Zach Fowle's heavenly pumpkin mousse, whose creamy consistency made it easy to eat way too much. As always, Carol Blonder brought in a memorable dish -- this time, it was a layer cake smothered in wonderful cream cheese icing. 

This was a tough battle of kitchen talents, but after thinking it all over, I can still recall my first bite of Carrie's curry and how it made me smile. Its aromatic spices cheered up the entire office, actually. Yes, folks, pumpkin goes beautifully as a savory dish, and this one's a definite winner. Congrats, Carrie!

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig