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Serving Up Pumpkins

The theme for our 3rd Fridays Local Life celebration in Downtown Overland Park in October on Friday was OPtoberfest: Pumpkins Everywhere!

In the spirit of the theme, and because we do so LOVE a good pumpkin recipe at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, we offered up pumpkin-themed samples and small plates in our kitchens tonight.  We’ll start with a Savory Pumpkin Dip, followed by a Harvest Pumpkin Pizza, and enjoy it with our Après-Raking Pumpkin Whiskey Cocktail. 

Then try them at home… and enjoy!

Savory Pumpkin DipSavory Pumpkin Dip


  • 1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 4-6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, still the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pumpkin puree, pecans, bacon, onions, salt and cinnamon together until combined.  Serve garnished with extra bacon and green onions if desired, or cover and refrigerate until use.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Harvest Pumpkin PizzaHarvest Pumpkin Pizza


  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme, fresh and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 homemade pizza dough (recipe follows or prepared ready-to-bake)
  • 1 cup arugula or other bitter green
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 cups Havarti cheese, freshly grated (or similar substitute)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For those that have a pizza stone, put the stone in the oven to warm.

While the oven is heating, heat the stove on medium low heat and cook half of the onions with olive oil. You’ll want to cook them on low heat for…a while to caramelize the onions. When they are about halfway caramelized, sprinkle sugar on them. As they cook, continue to stir and move them around with a spatula.

Next, add the pumpkin puree, garlic, shallot, thyme, and the other half of the onion to a mixing bowl. Mix in the parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

On a lightly floured flat surface, roll the pizza dough into a circle, transfer it to your pizza stone and top it with the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle the arugula and caramelized onions on top of the pumpkin mixture, and then add the grated cheeses. You can add a dash of salt and pepper here, too, if you would like.  Cook the pizza till brown and bubbly.

Pizza Dough

(Prepare the day before)


  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Start with a large bowl and add water, bread flour, and yeast on one side of the bowl and 1 ½ tsp of salt on the other side of the bowl.

Stir the mixture until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Then stir in extra virgin olive oil. Remove the dough from bowl and knead dough until smooth.

Oil the bottom of the sheet pan, divide the dough into four similar skins (or balls), continue to knead and then place them on the sheet pan.

Lay one side down, press gently then flip over and press down again, gently. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes enough dough for 4 (12-inch) pizzas

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Pumpkin Whiskey CocktailAprès-Raking Pumpkin Whiskey Cocktail


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 (1-inch) chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Small pinch of ground cloves
  • Small pinch of ground allspice


  • Sugar & cinnamon, for the glass rims
  • Whisky, as needed
  • Soda water, as needed
  • Ice cubes, as needed


In a saucepan over medium-high heat add the water, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Discard the ginger root.

Mix sugar and cinnamon on a plate.

Wet the rim of each cocktail glass.  Dip each glass into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

For each cocktail, combine 1-2 tablespoons of the simple syrup with 1 1/2 ounces of whisky and top with soda water. Stir vigorously (a little separation may happen) until well combined. Add a few ice cubes and enjoy!

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If you love pumpkin as much as we love pumpkin, register today for our ‘Pumpkin Love: Clean, Simple and Delicious Recipes’ class at The Culinary Center on Oct. 30, 2017. Click here for more information!

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