Friday, January 14, 2011

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

There are numerous versions of this dish floating around the blogosphere. This is how we do it here.

A FFH version of mac & cheese.

F (ast) I often whip up a small batch of this for dinner when it’s just me and Emily. A one pot dish ready in under 20 minutes.

F (rugal)- I actually "earned" $.31 off my bill for each box of Ronzoni I bought at Publix (was on BOGO sale for $.69 each and I had $1/1 coupons). By combining manufacturer and store coupons with a sale, I got both bags of cheese for $.50 each.

I stocked up Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin a couple weeks ago when I saw Amazon had it for $10.68 a case. That's 12 cans shipped to my door at $.89 apiece. A great deal for organic pumpkin! Adding to my existing pumpkin stash, I should have enough to get me through the Apocalypse at least 2011.

H (ealthy)- If you haven’t noticed, I buy baby spinach by the tub and put in it just about every dinner. It’s practically flavorless and a nutritional powerhouse. Same thing goes for the canned pumpkin. I have an addiction to both. Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta is fortified with fiber and calcium making it a step above your standard semolina. The cheeses are reduced fat, but not fat-free. Blech.

So, start by cooking the pasta (duh). Reserve some of the liquid when draining it.

Put it back in the cooking pot and mix in:

  • 1/2 block of neufchatel (reduced-fat) cream cheese

  • 1 1/2 c pumpkin puree

  • One big handful of shredded mozzarella

  • A few big handfuls of baby spinach

  • Heavy handed sprinkles of salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil

  • Light dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, dried sage

  • 3/4 c reserved pasta water

  • Then stir it up. Cover and let it sit on low heat until the spinach is completely wilted. You may need to add some additional pasta water if it gets too thick and sticky.

    Top with another generous handful of shredded cheddar.

    The suggestion from Miss S was right on, adding some pan seared apple-maple chicken sausage on top was a great addition.

    Almost as cheap as the blue box and a pack of Ballparks, and don’t you feel so much better eating all those veggies?

    Want even more veggies? Try passing out one of these Cauliflower Chocolate Chip muffins as dessert.

    Do you have a recipe with a secret ingredient no one would expect?


    1. This looks yum, I'll have to try it. Owl just doesn't dig the texture of regular veggies. I bet it would be good with squash too.

      So are you tired of the sausage yet? Laugh!

    2. Never thought of putting pumpkin in the macaroni... but that looks amazing. I also bought a ton of cans of canned pumpkin around Thanksgiving, because if you wait too long they'll all be sold out by the time the holidays roll around. I know who to go to if there's ever a shortage of canned pumpkin in this country. ;)

    3. I'm so intrigued! I'm definitely going to try this soon. My husband gets a little freaked out by unusual food combos though so I probably won't tell him what's in it until after the fact. :)

    4. Lol, y'all will be happy to know chicken sausage won't be on the menu for a while. I'm a creature of habit and don't mind eating the same thing for days in a row. At Mr.Blondie's request I put the rest in the freezer for now.

      Even my hubby is down with this. I'm sure you could sneak this one by him.

    5. That looks great! I'm with ya on adding spinach to everything. Love it! Thanks for the well wishes on my marathon! Dare I say it wasn't that bad and I wouldn't rule out doing another one someday?!

    6. Your race report made it sound pretty easy. I was impressed! I'm sure there will be more in your future too.