October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese for Dinner {Naptime Everyday}

Pumpkin Mac

What’s Going on Today: Crafting for daughter’s homemade Halloween costume, writing, fall cleaning.

Naptime Goals: Let glue dry on costume, compose Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese to bake later.

Tonight’s Menu: Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese, Green Salad, White Wine

Naptime Chef Pumpkin Week!: Don’t forget this week’s challenge to cook or bake at least one awesome dish with pumpkin this week. See official Pumpkin Challenge rules below and enter to win the awesome King Arthur Flour Halloween baking kit giveaway!

This year my daughter is going to be a pink lollipop for Halloween. It is a fitting ode to her favorite treat and a nice imaginative costume, I think. For better or worse, this also means that I have to make her costume this year. Some people seemed surprised when they hear I am not a crafty person. But I am not lying when I say I can barely sew a button. All this is to say that on this particular fall day it was especially important I make a simple meal ahead of time so I could dedicate the afternoon while she was at school to making her costume.

I’ve always loved stirring butternut squash into mac-n-cheese so substituting pumpkin seemed like a natural fit. I decided to take the route of create a luxurious sauce and baking it with freshly cooked pasta. Since I like a nice crunchy topping on mac-n-cheese I also made sure to add a Parmesan crust. (Isn’t everything better with a Parmesan crust?)

I assembled the whole thing during the day and refrigerated it until dinner. Then I slipped it in the oven the bake right before we were ready to eat. Since the pasta was pre-cooked it only took a few minutes to warm up before it was set to be served. The creamy pumpkin sauce had melted around each bit of pasta and made for a most decadent meal. To balance it out I added a tossed green salad as our side dish and, of course, some tasty wine. It was the perfect restorative meal for Mom after a very long afternoon of crafting!

Rules for Pumpkin Challenge Week Giveaway:

1. Leave a comment sharing what you plan cook or bake with pumpkin this week.

2. Subscribe to The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper right hand corner) – I’ll check!

3. Become a fan of The Naptime Chef on Facebook

4. Extra Entry: Share the link to this post with your friends on Facebook and link to @TheNaptimeChef Facebook fanpage

5. Extra Entry: Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and link to hashtag @TheNaptimeChef

6. Extra Entry: Follow me on Stumbleupon and stumble this entry by clicking the green thumbs up.

7. 6 Extra Entries: Write a blog post between now and next Saturday October 22nd at 7:00am about what delicious pumpkin dish you’ve cooked up and tell your readers about this post with a link back to it. You will be listed in The Naptime Chef newsletter as an official sponsor.

8. Contest will run from October 17th at 7:00am through Sunday, October 23rd at 7:00pm ET. Winner will be announced on Monday October 24th at 7:00am. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn. Winner be selected by random.org.

9. Giveaway items can only be mailed within the continental US.

*Giveaway items generously donated by King Arthur Flour


Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese


1 pound short pasta, like penne
1 15 ounces can pumpkin puree, or 15 ounces fresh pumpkin puree
1 ¾ cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded Gruyere
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme leaves

Salt & Pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Cook the pasta until just al dente and drain. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the pumpkin and milk until completely smooth. Then add a pinch of salt and pepper,  the thyme, and the gruyere cheese. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the pasta and mix well.

4. Pour the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle the parmesan over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and the pasta is heated through.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This is a decidedly luxurious mac-n-cheese dish. Pair it with a great big green vegetable course!

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes prep time, 15 minutes baking time

Naptime Reviews

This was a hit with everyone, including my daughter. I think it would be great for a party and serving guests!