Easy Pumpkin Recipes For the Holidays

I have always loved pumpkin recipes…especially throughout the holidays. Of course, I love pumpkin pie. But there have been other pumpkin recipes I’ve shared with my family and friends. These recipes have turned out to be some of my favorite holiday treats. I love the smell of pumpkin cooking in my kitchen. When I’m baking for the holidays, I usually light a couple of candles to create more of a cozy ambiance and it really gets me in the holiday baking mood.

If you are a fan of pumpkin pie, you will love these recipes as well

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Cheesecake


1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz. can condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
3 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until edge springs back when lightly touched (center will be slightly soft). Cool and chill.

Maple Glaze:

Combine 2 tablespoons water and 4 teaspoons cornstarch. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup raisins. Cool slightly. Spoon over cheesecake. Makes one 9-inch cheesecake.

Holiday Walnut Pumpkin Pie


1 (6 oz.) Keebler “ready crust” graham cracker pie crust
1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 (15oz) can pumpkin
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped walnuts


Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into crust.

Bake 15 minutes. Remove pie. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Mix sugar, flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle walnut mixture over pie.

Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Cookies


1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix pumpkin, sugar, shortening, and orange peel. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Round dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies lightly with cinnamon. Bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Important note: If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Christmas Pecan Pumpkin Roll


1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 Eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
T cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

For Cream cheese filling:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup margarine
3/4 tsp. vanilla


Cream cheese filling: Beat 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened; 1/4 cup butter softened; and 3/4 tsp. vanilla on medium speed until smooth.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line jelly roll pan, 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch, with aluminum foil; grease generously. Beat eggs in large bowl on high speed 5 minutes until very thick and lemon colored.

Gradually beat in granulated sugar and pumpkin. Gradually add flour, baking soda and cinnamon,beating just until batter is smooth.

Pour into pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until knife or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately loosen from edges of pan; invert onto towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove foil. While hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

Unroll; spread with Cream Cheese Filling. Roll up; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate any remaining cake. 10 to 12 servings.


How to Recession Proof Your Career by Developing Your Network

One of the lessons I have learned about managing careers through previous downturns is the critical importance of your network in weathering an economic storm. As the son of an Indian family it’s something that is drummed into you from a young age – “It’s your family and friends that you can lean on in times of trouble” as my father still tells me today!

Similarly, in the current economic climate, the experience on your CV or resume alone will not save you from the effects of the downturn. Neither will your amazing talent, intellect or hard work.

What will help you is your network – your friends, colleagues and your extended family.

If you need a new job, advice, money, emotional support or just someone to cry with in your beer at end of a bad week , you need to turn to your extended family, friends & associates.

Relationships are like muscles – the more you work them, the stronger they get. Now is the time to be strengthening those muscles.

Here are 3 tips to give yourself a relationship work-out and so strengthen your ability to deal with whatever fall-out comes out of the credit crunch.


Successful sales people speak to and connect with their prospects and contacts regularly. They are constantly cultivating existing relationships and building new connections.

As the CEO of You plc (or You Inc) you should be doing the same thing.

Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting, a phone call, email or text, you should be connecting with people – friends, family, former work colleagues and clients – regularly.

Yes, I know – you are busy and haven’t got the time . But it’s not about ‘time’, but about priorities. If you make cultivating relationships a priority now, you will create a support structure around you that will protect you regardless of how long and deep the recession is.


The currency for networking is generosity, not greed.

It’s not what your contacts can do for you – but what you can do for your contacts. So get into the habit of understanding the goals and challenges your contacts face and ask: “how can I help you achieve xyz?”

Then you can connect them with other people, give them information and ideas that they will value and which will help them achieve what they want.

The more people you help, the more people you’ll have helping you and the more help you’ll have helping others – it’s a loop. (Read that sentence again!).

But that help may well come from somewhere else – it’s like a boomerang and may well come back from another direction or source.

So quit keeping score.


Many people are great at building relationships and helping others, but are afraid to ask for help or advice themselves.

And worse still – when help is offered they are too proud to accept it.

In addition to being generous, you need to know when to ask for help if you want to succeed.

So make sure that when you’re connecting with your network, they know want you want, whether it’s a new job, a sounding board or just a kick up the backside to get you out of a rut. Like any other relationship, the sooner the other party understands your needs and the quicker you are willing to accept help, the more successful you will be

Your Field Work

Over the next 7 days:-

a) Set up an informal lunch / coffee or drink with a contact – maybe an ex-client, ex-colleague, a recruiter or even an old college friend – someone that you haven’t spoken with in a while.

b) Catch up on what is happening in their lives & careers and learn about each others objectives and current challenges. Then think about how you can help them.

c) Put a recurring note in your diary to meet a contact every 2 weeks (or weekly if you can manage it). It doesn’t always have to be face to face, it’s fine to have a ‘virtual coffee’ over the phone.

“Sure – that sounds great, but I haven’t got the time!”

This is the classic line you will hear from most people. Let’s get real. When you say you ‘haven’t got the time’ it’s just BS.

What you’re actually saying is that other things are more important. Attending to emails, meetings and conference calls to run the business is more important than taking just 60 minutes out of your week to look out for yourself and your career.


Great Father of the Groom Toasts For the Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally the bride’s parents paid for the wedding ceremony and the groom’s parents hosted the rehearsal dinner. If that’s how your son’s wedding is arranged, you may find yourself needing to open the dinner with a toast. While it may make you nervous, remember that we often don’t hear lots about the groom at the wedding. So, it’s a great gift for you to talk about this wonderful man who is your son. So, what to say that’s enough and not too much? There are a lot of suggestions here, but you want to keep your toast fairly short: the wait staff is waiting to serve and people are hungry. This is often the meal that will start people getting acclimated to the right time zone for the wedding.

Welcome everyone to the meal and the start of this great celebration.

Your family may not have gathered for a while, so it’s nice to be together again.
Offer a particular welcome to the bride’s family and look forward to getting to know one another better through the years.
Welcome all the family friends on both sides who have traveled to witness this wonderful occasion.
And then say hello to all the friends of the bride and groom who have gathered to celebrate their friends.

Say how happy you are that your son has chosen to marry such a wonderful woman.

Talk a little bit about the wonderful qualities you’ve noticed in your son’s fiancée.
Tell them that you’re looking forward to her becoming a member of your family.

Tell them how wonderful your son is and how proud you and his mother are of your son.

It’s OK to talk just one of your children, because this event is just about him.
It’s a wonderful time to tell your son that you’re proud to be his parents.

Say how much you’re looking forward to the entire weekend, their happy marriage and the shared years ahead of you. Hoist your glass, and sit down and enjoy the dinner and your friends, both old and new.

Note: if you and your son’s mother are divorced, it’s still really important to acknowledge that the two of you brought this wonderful man into the world. There’s nothing odder than parents pretending that they have no past together despite fabulous children. At some point the two of you loved one another enough to create this great son. Your ex was there when this child was brought into the world. You can afford to be generous and you might even allow the wedding to move you into a place of greater peace with one another. After all, there may be grandchildren ahead; no one wants to miss birthdays because you can’t figure out how to talk to one another. You don’t lose anything, ever by being generous. Your new spouses need to figure this out too, because they benefit from peace as well. And it will make all your children sigh with relief as you acknowledge the reality of the family they grew up in.


Notes From the Jungle – Coming Home to Rosa Blanca

With my time in Puerto Viejo coming to an end, I arranged to spend a night in San Jose before traveling to the Pacific coast of the country. In Costa Rica travel distances can be extremely misleading. Due to poor road conditions in many areas with the rainy season creating further havoc it is necessary to plan your time accordingly. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for local ticos to underestimate travel times by an hour or more leaving tourists with a distorted perspective. There is no harm intended here; it is most likely due to the slower pace of this culture and the ticos’ generally relaxed attitude about time.

My next destination is a small surfing village called Playa Nosara, located in a province called Guanacaste. Travel to this section of the country can be quite challenging in the rainy season due to the horrific driving conditions, where muddy potholes and small rivers leave the roads virtually inaccessible to larger tourist vehicles. I know from prior experience that the public bus system in Costa Rica can be brutal with frequent stops at every corner. I was not prepared to spend the day on a hot bus with live chickens and screaming babies, so I arranged through my hotel in San Jose for a private driver to transport me to Nosara.

Finca Rosa Blanca is an exquisite family run private estate situated in the hills of the central valley on acres of coffee plantations. Located approximately 15 minutes outside of San Jose, the property is stunning, the night air is cool and crisp and the rolling green mountains fade behind silvery gray clouds. The staff is kind, attentive and hospitable. In the evening a roaring fire burned in a stone fireplace in the cozy dining room while the lights of San Jose twinkled against the distant mountain range.

Rosa Blanca has the warm welcoming feeling of a private home .There are horse stables and a large greenhouse where local organic vegetables are grown. Separate buildings house a full service day spa, main guest house, and private bungalows. During the day guests can tour the coffee plantations, relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi, swim in the peaceful lagoon style swimming pool, access free internet and wireless service in the private office center, take a guided horseback ride through the surrounding hills or simply relax, walk the beautiful grounds and enjoy the breathtaking views.

At Rosa Blanca I dined outdoors on the patio with a stunning view of the distant mountain range and the twinkling lights of San Jose. Dinner at Rosa Blanca consists of four courses for a fixed price of $35. The portions are generous and the cuisine is light, healthy and delicious. The kickoff to my four course indulgence was a bowl of silky black bean soup. With a delicate topping of crème fraiche, the soup was light and soothing with a slight kick and a refreshing hint of cilantro. The warm goat cheese salad was superb. The thin slivers of cheese were encrusted in a delicate breading and literally melted in my mouth, complimenting the earthy flavor of the crisp field greens and tangy/sweet vinaigrette dressing.

The main course consisted of four jumbo shrimp topped with sea bass and surrounded by a colorful medley of organic vegetables grown in Rosa’s own gardens. My glass of merlot provided the perfect mellow accompaniment to a wonderfully satisfying meal on a cool night following a long day of travel. Although I was too full to consume the rich chocolate flan dessert that awaited me, I did not have the uncomfortable sensation of a meal loaded with butter, grease or heavy sauces. Nonetheless, I resigned myself to hitting the treadmill and dusting off my yoga mat following my return to Charleston.

After a long day of travel and frustrating logistical challenges to overcome, I was eager to retire to my beautiful room for a hot shower and a decent night sleep. My room at Rosa Blanca was spacious and inviting; the large windows overlooked an outdoor deck with a panoramic view of the surrounding acres of coffee plantations and distant mountain range. The delicate white curtains danced in the cool night breeze. The rooms at Rosa Blanca are designed with artistic flair; each has distinct features and a special theme with a name to match. For example in Los Aves, meaning birds, there is a tropical bird scene hand painted on the bathroom wall. My room had a huge bathtub covered in Spanish tile and a separate relaxation/meditation room with large windows and a long cushioned bench for lounging or reading.

There was plenty of hot water and a generous supply of biodegradable shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and soaps in my stylish, immaculately clean bathroom. After a rejuvenating shower I felt genuinely clean for the first time since leaving Charleston. This was a welcome change after a week spent covered in Puerto Viejo grime- a combination of thick humidity, perspiration, mud and mosquito repellant. In Puerto Viejo it rained every day, and nothing, I mean nothing, ever dried. When I unzipped my backpack in my room at Rosa Blanca, I swore I detected a wave of the familiar Puerto Viejo scent- something akin to incense burning hippie backpackers. I fell into bed exhausted, smelling of citrus mint soap and talcum powder. The king bed at Rosa Blanca was so plush and luxurious and the high thread count sheets so crisp and inviting, I felt as if I were sleeping on a cloud.

Breakfasts at Rosa Blanca are hearty, delicious and complimentary for hotel guests. Rosa Blanca has all the qualities one would seek in a five star resort; fabulous cuisine, aesthetic detail, beautiful grounds, breathtaking views and a highly attentive staff. Allan at the reception desk and Shirley, the general manager, were extremely patient and reassuring as I struggled through my many travel related questions and challenges. Glenn and Terri Jampol, the owners of the hotel, are originally from California but now maintain Costa Rican citizenship. It is clear that Rosa Blanca is near and dear to both of their hearts, as Glenn’s late mother envisioned and designed the place, and nurtured the hotel through its infancy. Their two daughters grew up at Rosa Blanca, surrounded by their beloved dogs, cats, horses, friends and family. Both Glenn and Terri have traveled extensively and offer a wealth of information on Central America. They clearly enjoy dining and mingling with their guests over fine wine and cuisine, sharing many laughs and candid stories of how two former laid back Berkeley students decided to a build life in Costa Rica.

I was delighted to experience a surprise Cimarrona performance (local music group) during my stay at Rosa Blanca. In the midst of dinner Terri rose from her seat and started dancing, encouraging all the guests and employees in the dining room to join her in a joyful explosion of song and dance. Within minutes every person in the room was dancing; feet were stomping, hands were clapping and the previously quiet dining room was transformed into a celebration of music and life.

If you travel through Costa Rica, it would be shame to pass through San Jose without a stay at Rosa Blanca. It is the perfect home base for resting and rejuvenating, as many popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica require a transfer through San Jose. If you are interested in taking a tour of the coffee plantations, visiting a volcano or scheduling a horseback riding adventure, be sure to contact the Rosa Blanca staff ahead of time. Allan, Barbara or Shirley will be happy to assist you. Should you decide to hire a private guide to transport you around the local area or even on a longer journey, Manolo and Jose are wonderful, reliable guides and both men speak fluent English.

Jose and his beautiful little girl Catalina escorted me from San Jose to Playa Nosara, and I could not have felt more safe or comfortable had I traveled alongside a dear friend. Jose is one of the kindest souls I encountered during my time in Costa Rica. I learned many lessons from Jose through his strong family values and simplistic approach to life. Jose explained that in his small town on the outskirts of San Jose, most people live in close proximity to their extended family members, allowing for a solid network of social/emotional support. Jose’s children have never been left with a babysitter, as their grandparents all live within a five mile radius and participate closely in the childrearing process. According to Jose, this is the norm in Costa Rica.

Jose stated that he does not know any child with a diagnosis of ADHD or a prescription for stimulant medication, and he attributed this striking cultural variation to the highly attentive parenting style common in tico families. Jose shared that one of his siblings experienced a messy divorce, and the negative impact on the children involved was quite notable and disturbing. This is not the case in his family, Jose explained, as his wife is always available to help Catalina with her homework after school and ensure that the work is completed. In the rare event that a babysitter is needed, there is always a grandparent, aunt or uncle in close proximity, readily available to provide childcare. Jose explained that in his town life revolves around the family; close relatives fulfill not only essential roles but social/recreational needs as well.

Jose stated that his birthday is tomorrow, and he is very excited to have the day off from work. “Are you planning anything special?” I inquired. “Yes,” Jose replied. “We are planning a family barbeque”. “Are you expecting many guests”? I inquired. “No”, Jose replied, “it is just my wife and children, and I would not want it any other way.”