Nothing says fall like pumpkins. But there’s more to life than pumpkin spice and pumpkin pie. Our food expert has three delicious recipes to share with you that you can take from the dinner table to dessert.
Joanie Zisk
Houston, TX

Joanie Zisk is the creator of ZagLeft, a food, wine and travel blog. She lives in the Houston area, where she pursues her passion for baking, food, travel and entertaining. Joanie is also the author of “College Meals – 30 Days of Recipes eCookbook” and has been a TV contributor on KPRC.

Pumpkin And Pecan Polvorones

Similar in nature to Mexican Wedding Cookies, these sweet treats can be made starting from fall to winter. They are perfect for all your fall and winter holiday entertaining.


  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup Imperial Sugar Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup raw pecan pieces
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use silpat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the butter, pumpkin puree and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt and mix well.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour and until just incorporated.
  5. Fold in the pecan pieces.
  6. Using your hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, spaced about 1½-inches apart.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
  8. Pour the powdered sugar in a large Ziplock bag. Add the cookies in batches to the bag, seal the bag and shake the bag up and down so that the powdered sugar generously covers all of the cookies.
  9. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Pumpkin Lasagna With Fontina

Inspired by a recipe first seen in Williams- Sonoma Magazine Zagleft puts her own unique twist on they healthy and hearty pasta dish.


  • 2 yellow summer squash, cut into rounds ¼ inch thick
  • 2 zucchini, cut into rounds ¼ inch thick
  • 1 red pepper, cored and sliced into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 24-ounce jar spaghetti sauce (I use Classico Tomato and Basil)
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus ¼ cup for topping
  • 12 sheets lasagna noodles, cooked until al dente
  • 1 pound sliced or shredded fontina cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers, onion, and garlic with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a smaller bowl, stir together the ricotta, sage, chopped parsley and egg, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, stir together the spaghetti sauce, pumpkin, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the shredded fontina cheese. Set aside.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  7. Spread ½ cup of the pasta sauce in an even layer on the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles on top.
  8. Spread ½ cup ricotta mixture on the noodles and scatter 1 cup of the vegetable mixture on top. Spread ½ cup pasta sauce over the vegetables and place ½ cup of fontina on top.
  9. Layer the noodles, ricotta, vegetables, sauce and fontina 2 to 3 more times. Top with remaining noodles, sauce and fontina.
  10. Transfer to the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted, 45-50 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and ¼ cup parmesan cheese on top.
  12. Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Pumpkin Sage Beer Bread 

Wanting something with favorite flavors of October, such as beer and pumpkin? Joanie created this delicious and versatile pumpkin sage beer bread. It’s perfect for eating warm, sliced with a spread of cream cheese or butter, as well as using it as a side to some of your favorite soups as you stay warm during the fall and winter months.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces beer (preferably dark beer)
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, roughly chopped or torn (or sub ½ teaspoon dry sage)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in the beer, pumpkin, sage, and cheese.
  4. Spoon batter into a greased 5 x 9 loaf pan.
  5. Pour melted butter over the top.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Related: Top Barbecue in Houston 

Want even more ideas for pumpkin? Try her pumpkin bundt cake with sweet maple glaze or the pumpkin pie for one, based on creating yummy dishes for her college-aged “kids.” Of course, you may like it so much you may need to make more than one.

Related: Top Ice Cream In Houston

Mother of four college to Kindergarten, Lisa Carey is a National and Local writer for Examiner. She brings with her 20 years experience in education, working with families and her enthusiasm for the Houston area. Her work can be found at