Hey you! Don't eat that, eat this!

Every year, around late September or early October, pumpkin season starts. When I was a kid, there wasn't much pumpkin flavored foods... pie and bread were really about it.
Then at some point a few years back, somebody realized that pumpkin is a flavor that can be used for all sorts of wacky treats! This blog is primarily about those pumpkin items.
Typically, if it's pumpkin flavored, I will try it. If it has pumpkin in the name, there is a strong chance I will try it. The weirder, the more fun.
In order for this to not be a September - December only blog, I'll also highlight other weird foods (typically prepackaged, mass produced stuff) as well. There will also be a healthy dose of beer reviews.
Wanna suggest something? EMAIL Fido!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving: A bountiful feast!

Now that I can actually think about food again after stuffing myself on Thursday, let's cover some pumpkin stuff that I ate recently.

Dreyer's Slow Churned Pumpkin (Limited Edition) - This stuff is awesome. It mixes two of my favorite treats together: ice cream and pumpkin. It's smooth and creamy and has a great pumpkin flavor! Plus, it's a lower fat product (Dreyer's also makes a regular pumpkin ice cream, which is quite good too, although I like the slow churned better) so you can feel a little less guilty about eating it.

Libby's Pumpkin Bread Kit and Einstein Brother's Bakery Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread - Libby's, maker of fine canned pumpkin products (and pretty much the only maker of canned pumpkin products), put out this pumpkin bread kit that I found at Target for about $5. It makes two loaves worth of pumpkin bread (I used one big 9 x 13 pan and made a big cake like loaf). Since it uses real canned pumpkin (as opposed to dried stuff in a mix), it came out pretty moist and flavorful. Plus it's really easy so most anybody could make this stuff without screwing up. I will admit, though, that I added tiny bits of some other stuff to the mix like some extra Pumpkin Pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, a shot of the Archer Farms Pumpkin Nog Milk, and a shot of amaretto. MMMMMMMM!
To top it off (literally), I gave the bread a nice frosting of the Einstein Bros. Pumpkin Cream Cheese. Normally, I get this and spread it on the Einstein Bros. Pumpkin Bagels, but I haven't actually seen any of those this year. This Cream Cheese Spread is excellent. It's very light and fluffy and is a near perfect blend of pumpkin and cream cheese. There are other pumpkin cream cheeses out there, but this on is by far my favorite.

Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Cake Donuts & Holes - For the record, I actually bought a box of the donut holes, but this can cover both items since they are basically the same food, just in a different shape.
Donuts are a nice treat, although I've lost some interest in them over the years. These Pumpkin Spice donuts are not bad, but not really a winner. Sure the donuts themselves are good (granted, I don't really see the big deal about KK), especially since they are cake donuts which I prefer, but they just don't pack a powerful pumpkin punch. Sure you can taste the pumpkin, but the whole thing is a just a step or two away from a regular cake donut.

On Thanksgiving, we took my family out to lunch at a Fort Worth restaurant called Ferre. I think the missus tends to enjoy this one more than me, but it's not bad (personally, I prefer Saint Emilion). There were a couple of gourmet type pumpkin items on the three-course menu, so I was forced to try them.
The first, an appetizer, was a Pumpkin Gnocchi with pancetta, brown butter and sage. First off, I am not a fan of bacon and bacon related foods. Meat should be tender and juicy and should not crunch. Pancetta, while not bacon in the strictest sense, is still a bacon-y food and so the flavor ran amuck in the bowl. The gnocchi was not bad, but failed to impress. It was chewy but lacked any real flavor of it's own (largely tasted of pancetta). This could have been better. More pumpkin, butter, and spices, less pancetta.
The other menu item, a dessert, was Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake with candied pecans and maple whipped cream. This was fantastic... one of the best pumpkin cheesecakes I've ever tried. I can't stand ricotta, but it was blended together so well that the entire cheesecake came out smooth and creamy and not overpoweringly rich as cheesecakes can tend to do. They maple whipped cream was a treat too. Definitely made up for the gnocchi.

Okay, that's about enough for now. Time to hit the mountain bike and work off all these calories!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dr. Pepper is insane!

So, I'm at the grocery store, buying spinach or something, and I see this crazy item up by the checkstands.

Diet Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper. Well, that sounds ludicrous, thus, I must try it.

It really wasn't that bad. It tasted very much like chocolate AND cherries. It did not taste like pepper. And, like most of the Diet DP line, it didn't taste much like diet either.

It's one of them "limited edition" flavors, so keep and eye out and grab one if you get the chance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

We're going out for pumpkin!

Today there are a couple of pumpkin things I want to mention, both from restaurants.
One is the Pumpkin Pancakes from the International House of Pancakes, or IHOP, if you get excited about acronyms.
These were fantastic. The were light and fluffy, moist enough to not need syrup, and came topped with some whipped cream. The pumpkin flavor was better than expected. I don't know how many truck drivers, old people, or intoxicated youths but these, but if they don't, their missing out.
The other item is the Pumpkin Muffin (Seasonal selection) from Mimi's Cafe. I did not actually order this one, it came as part of Mrs. Rotten's meal, but she was gracious enough to give me a bite after I stared and drooled at it for a good two minutes. Perhaps it was because this was dinner and they had possibly baked them earlier in the day, but it was a little dry. It wasn't bad, but not the best muffin ever. A quick reheat in the microwave probably would have done wonders for this one.
Anyway, 4 pumpkins for the pancakes, 3 for the muffin.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Whataburger Fried Pumpkin Pie

Today's pumpkin entry is the Whataburger Fried Pumpkin Pie.
Whataburger makes some tasty food that will make any dietitian or nutritionist fly into an uncontrolled rage. The line of fried pies is no exception.
You can typically get apple or maybe cherry and sometimes they have lemon. For the fall season this year, they have pumpkin.
I was quite excited when a co-worker told me about them. So, we went to Whataburger for lunch, mostly to try the pie.
Well, the pie was.... okay. It was fried, it was hot, and it was not quite what I was expecting. The pumpkin pie filling was not so amazing... it was too liquid-y and didn't have a strong flavor. Plus, it was still way to hot, even after a good 15 minute cool off period while I ate the rest of lunch.
Still, if you are at Whataburger, it's worth trying. If you are driving around and need pumpkin, it'll do. Is it the greatest dessert invention ever. No.
3 out of 5 pumpkins.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup

Today's pumpkin thing is actually a recipe I got from some stupid calendar they gave us at work. It's Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup. It's not too difficult to make (other than chopping the onions and garlic... burn!). It tasted okay, but I have to admit, I really am not a soup guy. I like chili and stews, but for whatever reason, eating liquid with a spoon just doesn't appeal to me. I will say that I enjoyed it more as a Creamy Pumpkin Curry Sauce that I poured over chicken and veggies. For my taste though, I think I'd like it a little less creamy. I don't think I'm done with this one... perhaps some tweaking and experimenting is in order. I'm giving it 2 out of 5 pumpkins, but that's largely because I think the "creamy" and "soup" parts got in the way.
If anybody wants the recipe.... let me know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Archer Farms Holiday Nog: Pumpkin Spice Milk

Today's pumpkin treat is absolutely fanamatastic! I can tell you a straight up 5 pumpkins right now.

Archer Farms Holiday Nog: Pumpkin Spice Milk. This is awesome! Smooth and creamy with a dandy pumpkin flavor. Perfect for making your Cheerios a little more exciting or just a nice treat after another stupid day at work. Buy a bunch of it and spike it with rum or some other spirit and never leave the house. Available at Target.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkin beer plus one "bonus"

Today's pumpkin entry is actually 4 entries. 4 "pumpkin" beers to be exact. 3 of these were from last year. The thing about pumpkin beers is that they really don't taste like pumpkin. They're MADE with pumpkin, but they don't much taste like pumpkin. Regardless, I keep trying.

Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale (Anheuser-Busch) 5.5% - "Ale Brewed with only the Finest Barley Malt, The Choicest Hops, Pumpkin and spices." Pretty much a typical pumpkin ale. Taste like an ale with some stuff in it. Not bad, but there are better beers if this isn't gonna taste like pumpkin.

The Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale - No % listed and a warning sign: "MALT Beverage with pumpkin spice added." It's been a year since I had this, but the memories are coming back.... this tasted like soda water with some pumpkin flavoring. It actually tasted like pumpkin, but lacked any beer qualities that I pretty much disqualified this one. The artwork on the label is quite entertaining, though.

Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale (Blue Moon Seasonal Collection) 5.6% - "The flavor of vine ripened pumpkin & spices with traditional crystal malt." This is the one I got this year. It's a good beer (but then, I just like the Blue Moon line), but again, not a major pumpkin flavor explosion. I'd recommend it for parties just to go with the theme, but if you want a seasonal to just drink at home, try the Blue Moon Winter Ale.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale 7% - "A full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg." If you are at all familiar with the Dogfish Head line of beer, then you know that it is made up of beers that are heavy on flavor and heavy on alcohol. This one fits the bill. To be honest, I don't remember exactly how this one tasted, but I can remember that I felt quite relaxed after drinking it. Pumpkin flavor or not, shotgun one of these and you'll have no problem going to sleep.

The "bonus" beer is not a pumpkin beer, rather, it is the beer that was unanimously voted at the Chris & Liesl Logan Beer Tasting Festival as THE WORST BEER EVER!!!!
This is the Left Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout. There is no alcohol percentage listed, but I can tell you that it isn't enough, whatever the hell it is. I bought this with the intention of of maybe winning best beer or weirdest. I like stout and I like milk stout and I thought, hmmmm.... this looks interesting. Plus, there's a cow with hand-print spots on the label. That cow wouldn't steer me wrong (no pun intended).
That cow drove me into the biggest cow patty ever ejected from bovine buttocks. A general consensus was that the beer tasted like an ashtray. As such, it easily won worst beer and I earned the prize of a book about the "most evil" people in history.
It was my own fault. I broke rules regarding good beer selection. Mainly, NEVER BUY A DOMESTIC STOUT! I don't care what you think it might taste like, if it was made by some hippie indie brewer in the US, then it's crap. Period.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Archer Farms Pumpkin Tart (with side of beer)

Today's pumpkin review is for the Archer Farms 4" Pumpkin Tart. Found this one in the Target bakery for $2.99. It's 6 oz of tasty pumpkin goodness (with dollop of cream and a chocolate stick). Don't look at the Nutrition Facts (especially since this thing is supposed to serve 2).
It has a good pumpkin flavor but I can't say this is fanamatastic since it largely tastes like a mini-pumpkin pie with extra crust (not that I mind... I like crust). It was good and I'd recommend it, but it isn't the pumpkin find of the year. 4 out of 5 pumpkins.
An aside: it went quite well with the Blue Moon Winter Ale (Target was out of the BM Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, which will be reviewed later). Both were consumed while watching another dandy episode of Reaper.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stop! Pumpkin Time!

Well, it's pumpkin season again. This year, I fully intend on doing a better job of reporting all of the tasty pumpkin treats. So far this year, there has been a new pumpkin beer, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin tart, pumpkin milk, and pumpkin curry soup. I have a pumpkin cake recipe to try and some pumpkin cream cheese in the fridge. Reviews will follow as time allows.

If you happen to find a pumpkin flavored something, let me know so I can try it.