Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

One might begin to wonder if I'm getting carried away with pumpkin recipes. Yes, I guess I am, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I was really wanting to make some homemade mac and cheese and in particular, I wanted to try it with pumpkin. I found this particular recipe over at Healthy Food for Living, it looked so creamy and delicious! I was excited to try it and it did not disappoint.

You begin the sauce by heating the pumpkin and milk.

Next comes the combination of cheeses. I used sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack and cream cheese.

You can choose just about any kind of pasta, I went with the mini-penne.

After you add the sauce to the pasta it's really creamy. If you like it that way—go ahead and enjoy! Or…

…you may decide to add a bit of cheese to the top and bake it in the oven. Here's where you have to be careful. Over-baked mac and cheese gets very dry. I put it in the oven for about 5 minutes.

This dish is great as a vegetarian main dish or served as a side. I like to serve it up with pork tenderloin or ham.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Healthy Food for a Living

8 oz uncooked macaroni or other pasta, (I used mini-penne)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
2 oz (about 4 Tbsp) 1/3-less-fat neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (can use reduced fat cheese)
1/2 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese (can sub in any good melting cheese, such as monterey jack)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or more depending on heat preference
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, whisk together and heat pumpkin puree and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot.
Reduce stove heat to low. Whisk in cheeses until fully melted.
Stir in nutmeg and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir drained pasta into the pumpkin-cheese sauce and mix until thoroughly combined.
You can eat and enjoy after mixing pasta with the sauce or you can put it all in a casserole dish, sprinkle with more cheese and put it in the oven at 375, for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Serve with an extra dusting of nutmeg, if desired.

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