Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Indulgent? You betcha!

Easy? Yes! You'll wonder why you waited so long to ditch the box of mac-n-cheese.

This is one of those base recipes to be customized to most any upgrade you can dream up... like this seasonal variation!

PUMPKIN Mac & Cheese

1-2 cups Dry Pasta, cooked (My fave is Cavatappi!)

2 tablespoons Butter or Olive Oil
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1-2 teaspoons Black Pepper
(optional: Ground Nutmeg)
Fresh Rosemary leaves, finely chopped 
2/3 to 1 cup Milk (evaporated, cow or nut)
1 cup-ish grated Gruyere Cheese, (I use a simple box grater. Cheese grates easier when cold.)
2/3 cup to 1 cup of 100% Pumpkin
Bread Crumbs or Panko

  • Prepare dry pasta according to package -- to al dente! While pasta cooks...
  • In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
  • When melted, whisk in an equal amount of all purpose flour. 
  • While whisking, add your black pepper and nutmeg (my preference). Don't walk away. This could scorch quickly.
  • Add milk while whisking; reduce heat to allow sauce to thicken. It's ready when it coats the back of a spoon!
  • At this point, add your grated cheese and rosemary and watch the melted magic happen! Taste it! Does it need more? 
  • You've just created your cheesy sauce!
  • Stir a little measurement of pumpkin into your sauce. Taste it. Does it need more? If so, add it!
  • Toss in your cooked pasta.
  • Now, you have a choice: Serve from the skillet --OR-- Pour into a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs and bake until bubbly. 

(1) Try Gouda Cheese instead of the Gruyere.
(2) I don't add extra salt to the pasta or the sauce, because cheese is pretty salty.
(3) Add spices, like black pepper and nutmeg, to the flour in the skillet. Spices tend to distribute better at this point.
(4) You can cook down your own pumpkin or use 100% pumpkin from a can.

LOOK AT YOU! You're a mac-n-cheese chef! Go play with your food!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Broccoli, Pumpkin & Peanut Stir-fry

During autumn, local Farmer's Markets will have pumpkins of all shapes, colors and uses. Be sure to ask him or her for the most flavorFULL for your recipes and which is best for carving the jack-o-lantern for decorating your porch!

Lenise, my friend from church, gifted me with Basmati Rice from India! I couldn't wait to stay home long enough to get creative in the kitchen using the fragrant rice. A rice cooker is my preference while cooking the veggies, because it will automatically cut-off and I don't have to babysit a pot of rice. WINNING!

For this stir-fry recipe, I diced a little more than 1 cup of the cute little Sugar Pie Pumpkin and roasted the rest to be used, later, for other recipes. Stir-fry is a quick cooking dish perfect for after work. Taking only a few minutes, the veggies cook until slightly softened. If including meat or tofu with this dish, prepare and cook before the veggies.

Broccoli and Pumpkin Stir-fry

1 Onion, diced
1 cup Pumpkin, peeled & diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1-3 large Carrots, peeled & cut
1-2 large Broccoli heads/bunches, cut into florets a.k.a. "little trees"
8 oz sliced, fresh Mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons Oil (coconut or olive)
For "heat" - Red Pepper Flakes  -OR-  Sriracha
Creamy Peanut Butter & Low Sodium Soy Sauce  -OR-  Chinese Brown Sauce (scroll toward bottom of this post)
Basmati Rice
(optional: Extra Firm Tofu drained and large diced, Chicken or other meat thinly sliced)
  • Heat oil in large skillet to medium high.
  • Sauté onion, pumpkin and carrots until slightly softened. Keep stirring to prevent scorching.
  • Add garlic, broccoli and mushrooms. Keep stirring to prevent scorching.
  • Here's when you add your choice of sauce. Turn down the heat. Pour in enough soy sauce to cover the bottom of the skillet and stir in a big glob of creamy peanut butter  --OR-- use Chinese Brown Sauce in the place of soy sauce. Because veggies are different sizes, just play around with measurements until your veggies are coated and the consistency is where you like it!
  • Add heat...if you're not a wuss!
  • Serve over cooked Basmati Rice and garnish with chopped peanuts.
  • Enjoy!
NOTE: If using meat, cook in heated skillet, then set aside and add before serving

Chinese Brown Sauce
(Forks Over Knives... I've subbed in Molasses & Corn starch)

1/3 cup Low-sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Vegetable Stock
1/4 cup Molasses
1 tablespoon Grated Ginger or Ginger Paste
2 cloves Garlic, peeled & minced
1-2 teaspoons (or more) Corn Starch, dissolved in cold orange juice (water or pineapple juice would work, too)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. If there are any left-overs, serve with meal or store refrigerated in airtight container.

OK! Go Play with Your Food!