The Month of the Pumpkin Challenge: Week 2

Week two of the pumpkin challenge brought pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin creme brulee and lots (and lots) of fall beers! The hubs helped out and made the lasagna when I was running late at work one evening. I got a panicked phone call saying we didn’t have any of the ingredients for said lasagna and “what was he supposed to use in place of this or that?!?” I was confused by this call, because I knew that I had bought everything I needed. Anyhoo, I got home and discovered that he was using a different recipe than I had planned for…so that explained a good deal of the confusion ;) We accidentally created our own recipe! Substitutions and all, it turned out pretty good.

Week two entree: Pumpkin Lasagna


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed *we used veggie Italian sausage*
  • 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red wine *we used Muscadine wine ( because I forgot to get red), which added a sweetness that was actually pretty good*
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and spices (oregano, basil, parsley)
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 pound cooked lasagna noodles


In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Set aside.

In a medium pot combine tomato sauce and red wine and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste. If desired, add dry oregano, basil, and parsley. Reduce heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella and romano cheeses. Add eggs, pumpkin puree and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix very well. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Build your lasagna in a large 9 by 12-inch pan starting with a layer of sauce, a layer of pasta, a layer of half the sausage and a layer of half the filling. Add another layer of pasta, sauce, the remaining sausage and the filling. Finish with a layer of pasta and a layer of sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.


I spent the weekend in Chattanooga visiting my dear friend, Jessica. For years, she has been asking me the same question:

Jessica:  “Hey, have you ever made a creme brulee?”

Me:  “Nope.”

Jessica:  “Hmmm. I really want to make one.”

When this conversation faithfully made it’s annual appearance, I saw an opportunity to combine my pumpkin challenge with Jessica’s unfulfilled creme brulee obsession.

Mmmmm, mmmm!

Week two dessert: Pumpkin Creme Brulee


  • 3 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, additional
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (15-ounce) pure pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie mix)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In 4-quart saucepan, with wire whisk, mix cream, spice, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. Heat over medium-high heat until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove saucepan from heat.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, with wire whisk, beat egg yolks and pumpkin until well combined. Very slowly whisk warm cream mixture into egg mixture until well blended.

Place eight  broiler-safe ramekins or custard cups in large roasting pan. Pour cream mixture evenly into ramekins. Place pan in oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake 40 to 60 minutes or just until set (mixture will still be slightly soft in center). Transfer ramekins to wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Up to 4 hours before serving, preheat broiler. From remaining 1/4 cup sugar, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons over top of each custard.

Place ramekins in jelly-roll pan for easier handling. With broiler rack at closest position to heat source, broil custard 2 to 4 minutes or just until sugar melts and browns. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 4 hours.


We also took a doomed road trip to the famed Ellijay Apple Festival and planned on picking some apples at one of their 18 orchards. To make a loooong story short, we got LOST. What should have been a 1 1/2 hour drive turned into a 2 1/2 hour drive and when we finally arrived, the festival did not live up to its reputation. And to rub salt in the wound, we didn’t get to pick any apples.

We spent the remainder of the day waving our fists in the air and yelling “EEEELLLLIIIIIJJJJJAAAAAYYYYYY!”

And then we sampled lots of fall beers. We sampled so many, in fact, that I’m not sure there will be anymore new ones left to finish out this challenge. (But I’m sure we’ll manage.)

Week two fall seasonal beer(s):

  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead
  • Red Hook Late Harvest Autumn Ale
  • Shiner Oktoberfest
  • Heineken Dark
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
  • Victory Festbier
  • Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen (not a fall beer, but new to us)
  • Highland Brewing Co. Cattail Peak Wheat (again, not a fall beer, but new to me!)
  • Beck’s Oktoberfest
  • Atwater Bloktoberfest
  • Point Oktoberfest
  • the fall house brew at the Tavern in downtown Chattanooga

Wow…that list sort of makes us look like alcoholics…but we were only sampling! Jessica really liked the Shipyard Pumpkinhead, but I didn’t much care for it. The overall winner was Shiner Oktoberfest!

Who knew a pumpkin challenge could be so much fun?