We’re right in the middle of it now, the dreaded flavor and aroma overload.

As soon as the first leaf turns up north, they declare it pumpkin spice season. I think we can cite Starbucks for the pumpkin spice craze, but Dunkin Donuts is right up there to carry the torch.

If we really want to lay the blame, we must go back to the 1950s when McCormick introduced pumpkin pie spice blend. It saved the ‘50s housewife from having to buy four or five different spices to make that pumpkin pie once a year. The blend usually contains a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, but it can also include allspice and mace. However it started, the ubiquitous flavor is now the official harbinger of autumn.

Who am I to buck a trend? So, for those of you who like the warming notes of pumpkin pie spice blend, I’m offering a few recipes that go beyond coffee creamer and chai tea. Some people prefer to mix their own, but any of the prepared pumpkin pie spice blends are fine in the recipes that follow.

Pumpkin Roll


Non-stick spray

Waxed or parchment paper

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup cooked pumpkin (canned is fine)

3/4 cup flour 

1 tsp. baking soda 

1 tsp. salt 

1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice blend 

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting 


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese 

2 Tbs. margarine 

1 tsp. vanilla 

1 cup powdered sugar 

½ cup chopped walnuts 


Line 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with waxed or parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for five minutes.

Gradually mix in pumpkin. 

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, spice, and nut mix; stir into the pumpkin mixture.

Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool no more than five minutes. 

While still warm, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. 

Flip out of the pan onto a clean dish towel. 

Remove the paper and sprinkle with more powdered sugar. 

Roll up along the short edge, in the dishtowel. 

Refrigerate for one hour while you prepare filling. 

Unroll; spread filling on roll and roll again without the towel. 

Chill an additional ½ hour. 

Slice to serve.

Pumpkin Smoothie


1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup low-fat milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond, or oat)

1 tsp pumpkin spice

3 packets sweetener to taste (sugar or a substitute)

2 Tbs. hot water 

10-12 ice cubes 


Dissolve sweetener of choice in hot water. 

Add all ingredients except the ice to the blender. 

Blend/pulse 2-3 times. 

Add ice.

Blend on the highest setting until ice is absorbed and the smoothie has thickened.

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn


1 cup popcorn kernels 

2 Tbs. oil 

2 Tbs. sugar 

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 

1 tsp. salt 


Pop kernels in oil in a pot, according to package directions, or use popcorn popper. 

Mix sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a small bowl. 

Sprinkle spice sugar mixture over popcorn in pot.

Stir lightly to distribute. 

Transfer to bowl for serving.

Easiest No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened 

½ cup light brown sugar, packed 

½ cup heavy cream 

1 cup canned pumpkin 

½ teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 

2 containers (8 oz.) regular or lite frozen whipped topping 

1 pkg. instant pudding, cheesecake or vanilla flavor 

1 graham cracker crust, purchased or homemade 

Graham cracker crumbs (optional) 


In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and cream with the brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and spice until fluffy and well blended. 

Fold in the 2 ½ cups whipped topping (reserve the rest of topping to decorate the pie). 

Spread the mixture in the graham cracker crust. 

Cover and chill the pie for two to three hours before serving. 

Serve topped with piped whipped topping rosettes or dollops. 

Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Martini


4 oz. vodka 

2 oz. dark rum 

1 oz. half and half 

4 tbs. canned pumpkin puree 

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice 

2 oz. maple syrup 

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract 

Ice cubes 

For garnish 

Graham cracker crumbs 

1 tbs. cinnamon 

4 tbs. granulated sugar 

Maple syrup 

Cinnamon sticks for garnish 


Prepare the garnish: mix graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl with cinnamon and sugar, pour onto a saucer. 

Pour the maple syrup onto a saucer. 

Dip the rim of four chilled martini glasses with maple syrup. 

Dip the rim in the graham cracker mix. Set aside. 

Prepare the martini: In a cocktail shaker, combine the ice and remaining cocktail ingredients. 

Add ice cubes and shake vigorously until the shaker is chilled to the touch. 

Strain and pour the cocktail into the prepared martini glasses. 

Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Watch for Brian Parenteau, who is the brains behind DrYnk Bar & Lounge and Tulio’s Tacos and Tequila Bar to open a new space near the end of the year. Patio Bar & Pizza will be going in at Progresso Plaza, across the courtyard from Laser Wolf (that’s the building where 4th Ave crosses the Brightline tracks and merges onto 3rd Ave.). The 1920s building will house about 2,500 square feet inside with an equal amount of outdoor seating. (If it sounds crazy, then Parenteau is the one to make it work.)

Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit SFGN.com/Food to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..