Monday, November 28, 2011

For the Love of Pumpkin

To me, fall is all about the pumpkin (note, acceptable pronunciation includes, pump-kin or pumkin, NOT punkin, unless your name is Cam and you're famous for your punkin chunkin.  I juss sayin.)  I fell victim to the Pinterest/Blog world hoopla over the three ingredient pumpkin bread.  I wasn't impressed. Even Martha failed me with her Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Icing.  It was good, but not blow your mind with fall goodness.  Then I stumbled upon a spicy, cheesy pumpkin delight.  I thought I'd pass it along as it was a big hit in our house.  

Cheesy Pumpkin Shells
Adapted from Here

16 ounces of whole wheat orecchiette (or regular old pasta shells if you leave in the South because orecchiette is apparently too exotic for Publix)
3 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour
3 cups + 1/3 cup of milk (skim, whole, whatever you’ve got)
12 ounces of grated cheese (I used a mix of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and parm)
8 ounces of Velveeta, cut into cubes (1/4 of a large brick, or one of the cute little ones)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs. minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (Do you know that down here, they just call it ground pepper?)
½ cup of breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta in salted water, removing from the heat and draining three minutes less than the cook time on the package.

Melt butter in a large skillet or dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add flour, whisking for about thirty seconds.  Add two cups of milk and the rosemary, whisking continuously until smooth.  Add the third cup of milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about five minutes

Turn down the heat to medium.  Reserving a handful of cheese for the topping, add cheese blend and whisk until combined.  Add Velveeta and stir until fully melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cayenne and pumpkin, followed by the additional 1/3 cup of milk.  Stir until smooth. 

Toss cheese sauce with cooked pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish (I divided it between two small/medium casserole dishes and put one in the freezer for later.)  Top with remaining grated cheese and breadcrumbs.  Cook for 20 minutes, or until warm and bubbly in the center.

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