Saturday, October 31, 2009

Flavor-of-the-Month: Pumpkin

It has been quite a pumpkin-filled month, which makes October's Flavor-of-the-Month theme (pumpkin) a most appropriate choice.  For this challenge I thought I'd forgo the more traditional uses for pumpkin (pies, cakes, desserts, muffins/breads, etc.) in favor of a more savory dish: macaroni & cheese.  Don't freak out on me and leave just yet! 

Why would I put pumpkin into macaroni & cheese, you ask?  Well...why not?  On its own, macaroni & cheese--while delicious and thoroughly deserving of its status as a comfort food--is no nutrition superstar. It's certainly an unexpected addition, but pumpkin can boost the color, nutrition, and flavor of the dish without being overwhelming or pumpkiny. Sneak some into your family's favorite macaroni and cheese recipe (even if it's one from a box!) and get ready for the compliments.  

Bake at 350
Head on over to our host Bridget's "Bake at 350" blog to check out the all the entries for this month!

For a kid-friendly meal, few things pair better with macaroni & cheese than sliced hot dogs.  Or better yet...OCTODOGS!  To make your own super fun mini octo-doggies, take a hot dog and cut it in half crosswise*.  Then carefully slice the cut end into eight legs, making sure not to cut all the way to the top (rounded end).  You want to make sure he has a head!  Repeat with other half of hot dog.  Cook in a deep pot of boiling water until legs curl and hot dogs are done, turning occasionally when they start to float out too far above the water.  Use toothpicks to give them eyes, if desired.  Have fun! 

*I used turkey hot dogs--regular sized, not the big fat ones.  If you prefer bigger octodoggies, use the jumbo franks and either leave them whole (for extra long legs) or cut them in half before slicing the legs.

Looks like they're holding hands!  ♥

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
8 ounces American cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)*
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1 cup pumpkin puree*
½ cup sour cream

2 eggs
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish; set aside.

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Return macaroni to saucepan. While macaroni is hot, add the cheeses to the pan; stir well. Spread the macaroni mixture in the prepared baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, sour cream, eggs, butter, and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the macaroni.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe tips:
  • To make the American cheese easier to grate, stash it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  I used a "Deluxe" variety of American cheese slices, which I cut and stacked into blocks for grating. 
  • Please make sure you don't pick up a can of pumpkin pie mix by mistake! That would be...not so tasty.
Hungry for more pumpkin?  Visit Bake at 350 and browse through all the Flavor-of-the-Month entries!  Or...stay a while and re-visit my other pumpkin posts from October: 

♥ Pumpkin Chip Cupcakes
Pumpkin-Bottom Cupcakes
Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
Spinach Tortellini with Pumpkin Sauce
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese


  1. Mmmm...Mac and Cheese...I would have never thought to put pumpkin in it! I might have to try this one day this weekend.

  2. I bet this is really tasty. I am looking forward to trying it!

  3. This is awesome...and it looks so pretty, too! I'm trying this! Thanks, Dorothy!

    Love your blog makeover

  4. This looks great - like perfect fall comfort food.

  5. What a great idea, thanks for sharing. I think my daughter would love this because she loves all things Mac and Cheese, and it will be nice to get some more vegetables in her.

  6. Wow pumpkin mac and cheese...delicious!