Pumpkin!

Pumpkins have many uses.  Other than serving as Cinderella’s transportation to the ball, pumpkins are carved into Jack-o-Lanterns around Halloween, and a pumpkin also served as the Headless Horseman’s “head” before he threw it at Ichabod Crane.  I neither have use for a Jack-O-Lantern nor a pumpkin for a head (mine is still in good condition), nor do I need a pumpkin for transportation (though it might be more fun than riding the subway…fun, but it wouldn’t get me anywhere)…  Luckily, pumpkins are also good for eating.

Fall is in the air, and along with the changing season comes a change in mood…  Specifically, I’m in the mood for pumpkin.  I know there’s a pumpkin shortage, but that’s not going to stop me when I’m seeing orange!  I recently made a couple of pumpkin recipes, both of which I made for the first time.

The first one is a pumpkin mac & cheese…

I found the recipe on Broke-Ass Gourmet and tweaked it a little by using a blend of muenster, gruyère and cheddar cheeses.  I also used an entire can of pumpkin puree.  She doesn’t say it in her recipe, but I also sprinkled panko and Italian breadcrumbs on top along with cheese before baking to form the top crust.  Blending the three cheeses resulted in a more textured flavor to the sauce and a little bit of nuttiness that came from the gruyère.  It was a tiny tiny bit dry, so maybe I’ll use more liquid next time.  But the taste was pretty amazing, and the leftovers were even better the next day!

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni, penne, shells or other small pasta shape
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for the pan
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup blend of gruyère, muenster and cheddar, plus a little more for topping
  • dash nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter an 11“x13” baking pan or 4 ramekins/oven-proof bowls

Cook macaroni in salted boiling water according to package directions.

While macaroni cooks, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. As soon as it begins to brown, add the flour and whisk until you have a very sticky dough.

Slowly whisk in the milk to form a creamy white sauce.

Continue whisking as you add the pumpkin and 1/2 cup of the white cheddar. You should have a very creamy orange sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and return it to its pot. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat the pasta evenly.

Scrape the sauced pasta into the prepared pan(s) and top with the reserved cheddar plus more salt and pepper.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the cheese is very bubbly and lightly browned on top. Serve hot.

The next pumpkin recipe was a chocolate-chip pumpkin blondie recipe from My Baking Addiction.  I didn’t do much tweaking except I added 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg to the recipe.  This recipe makes two 8″ x 8″ square pans if you don’t have a 13″ x 9″ baking pan.

The first thing I have to say about these blondies is that they were very very moist.  The pumpkin taste was just right, and I was glad I added the extra half teaspoon of nutmeg to give it a bit of a boost.  This recipe is definitely going to be a keeper!  Here it is as shown on the web site (with some notes on my additions and substitutions):

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondies

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (my addition)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I use light brown)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecans; roughly chopped (omitted)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Grease with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree. If the mixture looks curdled, do not fret.

Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Storage: Store the pumpkin blondies in a single layer inside an airtight container for up to three days.

Stay tuned for more pumpkin goodness…The fall season has just begun!  🙂

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