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Easy 5-Ingredient Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip with Homemade Graham Crackers

pumpkin cream cheese dip and-crackers
This time of year I find any excuse I can to invite people over. Saturday afternoon football games, Friday night TGIF-ing, or just because, Autumn feels like the most inviting season of all. Halloween night, especially. Our patio always turns in to the must-be spot for family and friends. Everyone pitches in goodies for the trick-or-treaters, and we provide the turkey & black bean chili.

While a healthy dinner that fuels our party and little costume wearers, I’m always trying to find some new and exciting to serve for dessert. This year, we’re going with a crazy-kind-of-simple Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip. Part appetizer, part dessert, wholly scrumptious, there’s nothing not to love about these seasonal creation.
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9 New Ways to Eat a Pocket Full of Pawpaws

pawpaw-fruit

Nine ways to eat a … what? That’s right, a pawpaw! It is North America’s largest indigenous fruit you’ve never heard of. Affectionately titled the “poor man’s banana,” pawpaw is PACKED with more potassium than a banana and three times more vitamin C than an orange, according to Modern Farmer.

Not convinced to try them? Maybe these recipes will change your mind.

Pick a Pocket Full of Pawpaws: Sure to be the Hottest New “it” Fruit

1. Straight up raw. 

Any pawpaw fan will tell you that the best way to enjoy this adventurous produce is straight off the tree during peak season, which is mid-August through mid-October. With a custard-like texture and taste similar to mangoes, bananas, and melons, it’s no wonder eating the raw fruit is the way to go!

2. Pawpaw pie. 

Think lemon meringue with a new twist. Combine pawpaw pulp (peeled and seeded) with sugar, milk, egg yolks, and flour to heat over the stove. Then top with whipped egg white meringue and bake for 12 minutes at 350. See the full recipe here.

3. A micro-brewery trend

Midwest microbreweries and distilleries are catching on to pawpaws and have introduced several craft beers and wines that incorporate the subtly fruity flavor. These pawpaw brews are most commonly found throughout Ohio and the Carolinas.
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Pick a Pocket Full of Pawpaws: Sure to be the Hottest New “it” Fruit

pawpaws

Now is the time for “pickin’ up pawpaws and puttin’ ‘em in your pockets” as the children’s chant goes. The best pawpaws are the fully ripe fruits that have fallen to the ground between mid-August and mid-October, perfect for stuffing your pockets or your face!

Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. and are an indigenous plant to 26 states east of Nebraska, reaching from Florida to New York. The fruit was an important food for Native Americans and early settlers. Pawpaws graced George Washington’s table in colonial days. And even animals aren’t missing out on this delicious treat — squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears happily feast on aromatic pawpaw flesh.

Pawpaws are large fruits, similar to mangoes or papayas, ranging in color from yellow to green with skin often flecked. When over-ripe, the skin will turn brown like a banana. They have big black seeds that are easy-to-remove, a custard-like texture, and a flavor that is related to bananas, mangoes and melons. They are known commonly as a poor man’s banana.

“It has a sweet, yet rather cloying taste….a wee bit puckery” is the way their taste was described by a botanist of yore.   
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Your Favorite Pumpkin Treats are Full of Hidden Sugar, Fake Flavor

pumpkins

It’s already started: the time of pumpkin-flavored everything. Though many are cynical about the abundance of pumpkin, there’s no denying its power as a product. It’s estimated that we spend around $300 million a year, mostly between September and November, on products that at least kind of smell and taste like fall.

Essentially, people are going bananas for pumpkin. In fact, it’s one of the only vegetables that can claim a fandom. The thing is, most of the pumpkin products you can find this time of year don’t contain any pumpkin at all, just fake, processed pumpkin flavoring.

Take for example the ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. The beverage doesn’t contain any actual pumpkin, just artificial flavoring. The same can be said for the new Pumpkin Spice Oreos and many other products that will appear on shelves in the next few weeks.
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Fall for Kale and White Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for Dinner

kale-bean-sweet-potato

As fall approaches, I can’t get enough of nutrient dense root vegetables. Most notably: the sweet potato. While some prefer variety in their diet, I could eat some form of sweet potato every day: mashed for breakfast, fried for lunch, and stuffed for dinner.

sweet-potatoes

Stuffed sweet potato, you ask? Yes. My multiple experiments in the kitchen to include as much sweet potato as possible has led to one of my staple year-round dinners –the kale & white bean stuffed sweet potato. Who needs to wait for fall to have a hearty, yet surprisingly light, dinner? Not me!

Sweet potatoes are an all-star source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and the purple sweet potatoes are even thought to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just as the recipe name implies, you simply bake the sweet potatoes, choose your green and your white bean, prepare as directed, then stuff the greens & beans into the sweet potato for a healthy and satisfying edible boat! It’s truly delicious.
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