Minimal effort with satisfactory results. These couldn't get easier: you just add a few things (varies by mix, but nothing crazier than water, oil, eggs, butter, or milk) and pretty soon your kitchen smells like FALL. Good to have a box handy in the cupboard for last-minute guests or lazy mornings when you're in a "baking mood" but don't actually want to lift a finger. Doesn't taste all artificial like many mixes do. And you can even doctor them up: try adding carrots, zucchini or chopped nuts to the bread/muffin mix and chocolate chips to the pancake/waffle mix.
Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal
Two of my favorite things at the same time: pumpkin and oatmeal. But, sigh. It's kind of like eating a bowl of cinnamon stick potpourri or licking a Pumpkin Spice Yankee Candle. Thankfully the pecan chunks provide some nibbly crunch to the otherwise gloopy instant oatmeal. If you have the time, just make a big pot of (non-instant) oatmeal and stir in some canned pumpkin instead.
Yes! Stock up on jars of this because you'll want more in April but they only sell it now. This is my pumpkin jam (literally and figuratively). Spread it on toast, swirl it into porridge or yogurt, add some to a grilled cheese...the possibilities are endless. Endless! Of course it doesn't actually contain butter, just cooked-down pumpkin "meat" with just enough spices and sugar.
Pumpkin Flax Granola
This actually exists year-round. Heavy on the nuggety clusters of pumpkin seeds and sweetened oats. Wouldn't eat a whole bowl of this but would mix with other cereals, or into yogurt. The TJ's house label also makes a Pumpkin Spice Granola that's more pumpkiny, more spiced, and only available seasonally.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese
A tub of fluffy cream cheese mixed with pumpkin, some vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Should pumpkin cream cheese exist? That's a separate question altogether. But if you believe it should, then spread it on bagels or Ritz crackers.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
This is your one-stop spice-shaker shop for pies, other baking, and eggnog (oh geez, it's almost eggnog season). A blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, cloves, and cardamom. Max, our resident spice expert, whiffed and gave a nod of approval.
Found in the freezer section. The wee macarons are surprisingly pumpkiny, also very sweet. The texture isn't as bad as you'd expect from a box of frozen macarons. Each one has a thin crust and fluffy, squishy center. This is no trip to Pierre Hermé but they're also not inedible.
Frozen Pumpkin Pie
We preferred this to the non-frozen pie in Trader Joe's baked goods section. Custardy, spiced filling in a less sad-looking crust. Maybe too sweet, but gets the job done—especially if you have no time to bake one from scratch.
Pumpkin Spice Cake
A small ring-shaped cake that's moist (for days and days) and full of spices, especially cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. Not pumpkintense but very spiced and a nice treat for teatime.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Mousse Cake
More chocolatey than anything else. Light, spongy layers of chocolate alternating with vaguely pumpkin-flavored mousse. Doesn't taste like a mouthful of spices. Impressive pumpkin and foliage designs on top! Bring this to a party and fool everyone into thinking you purchased it at a fancy French bakery.
Found in the freezer section. You get a thick slab of pumpkin-ish-flavored cheesecake filling on a graham cracker crust. Probably fine by frozen cheesecake standards but mostly you just taste the cream cheese tartness and the pie spices. Not pumpkintense.
Pilgrim Joe's Pumpkin Ice Cream
"An out-of-this-gourd experience," advertised the Fearless Flyer. Made of 20% pure pumpkin puree, it's a nice shade of creamy orange and speckled with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and clove dust. The texture is smooth and buttercreamy. It's probably better than most grocery store pumpkin ice creams out there, though I'd much prefer a carton of Max's.
Pumpkin-Flavored Greek Yogurt
If there was a Greek Yogurt fan club, Carey and I would be charter members. We eat the stuff daily if not several times a day. But this had some major flaws. The tartness of the Greek-style actually just tasted sour and off. This was blended but would work better as a "fruit at the bottom" situation where the pumpkin (butter?) could be stirred into the yogurt.
Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Mix
Just-add-water dried mix for chai latte. Remember chai lattes? They're more dessert than tea. The blend includes sugar (first ingredient, eek), nonfat milk powder, dried pumpkin, black and darjeeling tea, and some spices including cloves and anise.
Canned Organic Pumpkin
More pumpkintense than an actual pumpkin because it's rid of all that orange stringy business and seeds, and the water has been pressed out. Just dense pumpkin mush. Great for baking!
Pumpkin-Flavored Doggie Treats
Because even dogs love pumpkin season! We defer to Mr. Hambone's palate for this one.
Note: Hambone eats everything. Even pen caps.