Think Outside The Mac N Cheese Box…

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I know that a box of macaroni and cheese is a fast and easy part of life for many families with small children.  If dinner hasn’t been planned, or we arrive home late, or in our household it might just be because Dad is cooking dinner…that little box of magic can be a life saver.  It’s one of the few things we are certain the kids will eat…as long as we buy the right kind.

Ironically, the not-so-picky child in our family happens to be very particular about her macaroni.  White cheddar?  Forget it.  Shells?  Nope.  If we don’t get this right it’s doomsday.  So you can imagine the fiasco last night when she found out that I was making macaroni and cheese (gasp) from scratch.  Ugh.

We have lots of squash in our household from our CSA.  I have been trying to come up with different ways to incorporate it into the kids meals so that they will eat it (and we don’t get bored).  So I concocted my version of Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese.  It’s perfect really.  The pumpkin is the same color as the cheese so it blends right in and it adds just a slight sweetness to the dish that balances out the sharpness of the cheddar perfectly.  There are lots of recipes out there for a dish like this.  I chose to keep mine as simple as possible with the hope that all three children would eat it.

How did it rate?  Well, this recipe received a K.A.R. of 2/3.

Now this isn’t a perfect score but considering little Miss Mac N Cheese’s stubborn stance on the subject, I’d say we did pretty well.  This would be a fun dinner on Halloween night.  It can easily be prepared ahead of time – ready and waiting when tired ghosts and goblins (or in our case super heroes and Buttercup from the Princess Bride) settle in after their night of tricks and treats.  And then of course I pose the question: do you serve them their mac and cheese unbeknownst to them that it actually has a vegetable in it (very clever trick!) or do you make it fun and festive by accentuating the fact that there is pumpkin in it (a sneaky healthy treat)?   Either way it’s a fantastic, healthy, home-made alternative to that all inclusive-little box of magic macaroni.

Homemade Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1Lb. Box Elbow Macaroni
  • 6 C Water
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 C Roasted Pumpkin (skin removed and mashed) or 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 C Really Yummy Cheese (I used a blend of what I had on hand- mostly cheddar)
  • 1 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 C Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pan Spray
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook time: 30 Minutes
  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta as per directions to al dente.  In the mean time, in a separate pot, melt butter over medium heat then stir in flour (this forms a roux) and cook approx. 4 minutes.  Stir in milk, pumpkin, and most of the cheese-(reserving 1/4 to top the casserole).  Continue to stir to melt the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drain pasta and add to cheese sauce.  Spray a casserole dish with pan spray and place macaroni and cheese mixture in casserole.  Top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs and season again with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes if the dish is still hot.  If the dish is refrigerated, give it an extra 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy.

Comments: 2

  1. Allison @ Alli 'n Son October 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm Reply

    I can’t wait to make this on Halloween for the boys (and for me)! Couple of questions for you, what size box did you use for the macaroni? And how long did you bake it for?

  2. Rose Hansen October 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm Reply

    C is the same way about macaroni. I wish Dad had never introduced her to that little box. She says the hot lunch macaroni at school is spicy. Really, when has hot lunch at school ever had any flavor? I love homemade mac n cheese. I think I am going to make a squash lasagna tonight for dinner. Miss you. Love you. :)

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