Fort Collins Food Diaries

Oct 272009
Authors: Madeline Novey, Michael Kalush

As the leaves turn color –/red, orange and ochre –/flourishing one last time before departing in winter, most students’ minds turn to Halloween, to/costumes and parties.

But for us, the fall, October in particular, marks the month of the orange, bumbling, seeded fruit (yes, botanically it is classified as a fruit): the pumpkin, or punkin’, as we have so amorously named it.

In honor of the symbolic fruit, here are a few traditional, not-so-normal and just downright different uses of punkin’.

1. Madeline’s staple punkin’ recipe: Prior to age 15, I always asked my mom to make either a pumpkin pie or cheesecake for my birthday. But for the big 1-5, she had a genius idea: pumpkin cheesecake — the best of both worlds.

Creamy and burnt orange, the cheesecake offers eaters just the right balance of sweet and savory flavors.

And when the two of us discovered we were gluten intolerant, my mom, Dianne Novey, replaced the formerly graham cracker and ginger snap cookie crust with gluten free ginger snaps.

2. The punkin’ oddity: As we were searching for the city’s best punkin’ foods, a co-worker suggested that the Collegian write a feature story about the recently opened O2 Market & Lounge oxygen bar at 1335 W. Elizabeth St. Looking at the store’s Web site, we discovered something intriguing: pumpkin flavored oxygen.

However, sitting at the bright white bar, tubes in nose, neither one of us could really smell or taste the pumpkin flavor except for a faint whiff of spices. This, the gentleman working, said was because certain smells register with different people: in our case, the eucalyptus and watermelon came through clear and strong.

(Oxygen bar: $3.50 for the first 5 minutes, $0.50/minute after that, $0.50 for nose cannula, a.k.a. tube.)

3. Using his personal connections, Mike discovered Cher Rosenberg, CSU sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma’s house director and chef, and her pumpkin turkey chili.

Tuesday afternoon in the house kitchen, Rosenberg coaxed us both to the stove where red and yellow peppers, onion and garlic vegetable oil were sautéing in a massive commercial pot. She then added ground turkey, tomatoes and six cups of punkin’ puree, later seasoning the mixture with chili powder, pepper and salt.

“Do you smell that?” she asked, stirring the vibrant concoction as we sipped the coffee she had prepared for us. After garnishing the dish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro, we, with the help of Mike’s girlfriend Aubrey, shot photos of the warm, chunky dish until we could wait no longer and attacked the bowl with spoons from all sides. Thick and savory, the punkin’ chili is the perfect compliment to a dreary fall day.

4. For a soft and fluffy punkin’ treat, look no further than iced pumpkin cookies crafted by a co-worker’s girlfriend, Sam Ruiz. Easy to make and even more fun to ice (make sure you have something to clean the icing off your fingers and counters), these cookies taste like a mix between pumpkin pie and bread in a small, finger-food form.

Staff photographer Michael Kalush and News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cups chopped onion

1 1/4 cups chopped bell pepper (green or red)

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow pepper

4 cloves of garlic minced

3 pounds ground turkey

3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes

6 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 cup chili powder

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

3 to 5 dashes salt (to taste)

Garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, jalapeño slices.

Heat oil in large skillet and sauté onion, bell peppers and garlic until tender. Stir in turkey until evenly browned. Drain and mix in tomatoes and pumpkin. Season the mixture with chili powder, pepper and salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer at least 20 minutes. Serves 18 (this is for a party).

(Source: Cher Rosenberg, CSU sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma’s house director and chef.)

Icy Pumpkin Cookies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

dash of salt

1/2 cup butter – melted

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 to 4 tbsp soymilk or milk

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and salt) in bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar then add pumpkin, egg, vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Slowly mix in dry ingredients with rubber spatula or hand mixer. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet by the tablespoonful. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cookies on cooling rack. Then, combine ingredients for icing, starting with 3 tbsp of milk, adding more as needed to obtain desired consistency. Drizzle over cookies, allowing time for icing to set.

(Source: Sam Ruiz, senior liberal arts major.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 cup finely chopped pecans

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (for gluten free, substitute gluten free ginger snaps)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 egg yolk


1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree*

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 pounds deli-style cream cheese

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp bourbon whiskey

1/8 cup sour cream

Use oven-roasted, fresh pumpkin or good-quality canned pumpkin, not presweetened pumpkin pie filling.


1 cup sour cream

1 tsp bourbon whiskey

1 tsp sugar

Special equipment: a 9-inch springform pan, an electric mixer


For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Combine the pecans, flour, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, butter and egg yolk together in a large bowl. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Turn the oven down to 300 degrees Farenheit.

For the filling: Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, maple syrup and bourbon until smooth. Combine with the sour cream and pumpkin mixture. Pour over the pre-baked crust. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the center shows little to no movement when the pan is tapped. Set aside to cool.

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Farenheit.

For the topping: Combine the sour cream, bourbon and sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread over the cooled cheesecake. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until well chilled. Remove from the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Slice and serve.

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