I’m so excited! I know people have been complaining about the “arctic” temperatures that Portland has had for the past few days- though being originally from Chicago, the temperatures felt right at home and a reason to wear the puffy coat I brought from Chicago winters when I moved here. The only thing I was hoping for was not a warm-up, but for snow! Holiday snow!
And it came today! Yay! (Imagine me running around with Kermit arms as the snow falls gently from the sky).
This kind of weather just makes you crave comfort food- hot, bubbling, warm you up from the inside food. For a while, I was receiving complimentary issues of Better Homes and Garden- I think it came from when I was renting from Budget they might have thrown in a few free issues for a quarter or 6 months. This pumpkin mac and cheese recipe is a $500 price award winning one from Susan Telleen of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Susan uses canned pumpkin, fresh sage and nuts to emphasize fall flavors, and the pumpkin flavor is subtle but adds creaminess so you can use less cheese.
I chose to use panko with the bread crumbs for more crunch. Despite the number of ingredients listed, it is only a 4 step recipe and yields 8 servings of the pumpkin mac and cheese, so enough for several meals, a great dish to bring to a potluck, to make for a dinner as you gaze at the snow outside, or in my case, a side that I had for Thanksgiving weekend!
- 2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko for topping- I used 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of panko
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sage leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot. If you do this beforehand, I usually put a teaspoon or so of olive oil and stir this in so the pasta does not stick together.
- Ideally, while the water in the pot is preparing to boil before you put in the pasta, you are working on the cheese sauce. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once to make your white sauce from the roux. If you are looking for a gluten-free version of white sauce, instead of the flour use sweet rice flour/glutinous rice flour instead of your regular flour. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly, it should be browned slightly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted.
- Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. You can add more salt and pepper to taste at this point, and when the cheese sauce is incorporated into the pasta, transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish.
- In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta as your mac and cheese topping! Now bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving or you will definitely burn your tongue! If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.
Mmmm comforting mac and cheese hugs on the inside of my belly. Mac and cheese and ramen are my favorite foods when the weather outside is frightful (though I am actually finding it delightful now!), but I only make mac and cheese and get ramen at restaurants. What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food?