Side Orders: Pumpkin pie gets a flavor assist from cheesecake

To be honest, pumpkin pie is my least favorite dessert on the Thanksgiving table. In fact, if there's nothing but pumpkin pie, I'll just forgo dessert. I've heard many people say pumpkin pie is their favorite of all pies. Hard to believe, but it's true.

So when I came upon this pie recipe in my files, I decided to give it a try, simply because it combines a cheesecake-type filling with traditional pumpkin pie, so that has to improve the flavor and texture. Sure enough, after making it, I changed my mind about pumpkin pie. After all, doesn't cheesecake make everything better?

photo Anne Braly

The pie is not only delicious to eat, it's gorgeous with a swirl of the cheesecake filling running through it. And since we eat with our eyes before it hits our taste buds, this pie is a win-win.

I know this is the last minute since Thanksgiving Day is just hours away, but the pie doesn't take but a few extra minutes to prepare if you're already planning on making a pumpkin pie anyway. And I will bet even those at your table who don't cotton to pumpkin pie will give this dessert a try. Don't forget to pass around a big bowl of whipped cream. And a blessed Thanksgiving to you all.

Pumpkin Swirl Pie

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup evaporated milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat cream cheese in small mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/4 cup corn syrup and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.

Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, remaining corn syrup, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt, if using, in medium bowl. Pour into pie shell. Drop cream cheese mixture by rounded tablespoon onto pumpkin filling. Swirl mixture with spoon, pulling pumpkin mixture up to surface.

Bake in 325-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice, if desired.

Thanksgiving eats

We ran a complete list last week, but if you're looking to go out for Thanksgiving dinner, consider these places: Beast + Barrel Gastro Smokehouse, Bluff View Art District, The Chattanoogan, FoodWorks, Herman's Soul Food, Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant, Ruth's Chris, Sticky Fingers and Terminal Brewhouse.

Area Cracker Barrel locations will be open as well. The company announced last week that they expect to serve 652,000 pounds of turkey, 8 million ounces of gravy, 1.6 million ounces of cranberry relish and 1 million slices of pie, making Thanksgiving the busiest day of the year for the chain, which has 658 locations across 44 states.

New wines in town

Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the holiday season, and if you're considering what wine to buy as a hostess gift or serve for your dinner party, there are several new reds on the market.

According to, red wines in the $20-plus range are growing in popularity and accounted for the top wine sales in 2017, with cabernet and pinto noir at the top, followed by chardonnay and red blends.

Here are some suggestions for new wines to put on your list this holiday season.

» One of the trendiest wines on the market are those red wines that have been aged in old bourbon barrels. It may be a gimmick, but there is a hint of bourbon with every sip if you let your taste buds wander. The newest bourbon-aged wine is a cabernet from Layer Cake that retails for $18.

» Next comes a new cabernet from Josh Cellars. The winery has been making cabs and bottling them for quite some time, but what is new is the Paso Robles Reserve 2015. With undertones of currents, black cherries and vanilla, it really is outstanding and will go quite well with any dish you serve this Christmas, but particularly braised short ribs or roasted filet mignon. You'll find it in area wine shops for around $20.

» Bellacosa is known for bottling some rather expensive wines but brings out a new 2016 cabernet for the holiday season that is just over $20 per bottle. It's smooth and silky and has everything you'd find in a pricier red wine from Bellacosa selling for around $100, but this one is priced at $25.

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