Mac and Cheese is a popular dinner around here. My kids are fine with the blue box every now and then, but this is the good stuff to them. When I read Bakeaholic Mama’s post about adding pumpkin and bacon, I knew I had to try combining her ideas with our usual mac and cheese recipe. I love the idea of sneaking some veggie points into such a decadent dish with no effort at all, and well, everything’s better with bacon right? And it’s not only topped with bacon, but “real” breadcrumbs too, which adds a crispy crunchy texture nothing can match.
My husband was surprised to find out there was pumpkin in this recipe after tasting it. I know, it’s so mean to tell people after they’ve taken a bite what they’ve just eaten. My mom once did that to our family when she used elk meat in place of ground beef in her spaghetti sauce! We all knew something wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t put our finger on it. I guess I’m still not quite over that one, Mom!
In this recipe, I noted that I used three types of cheese. This is because I had 1/3 of a block of each needing to be used up in the fridge. Any cheese that melts smoothly would work fine, but it’s nice to have at least some sharp cheddar for the classic mac and cheese taste. And I always like how freshly grated cheese melts better than pre-grated cheese due to the coating the manufacturer puts on the cheese to keep it from sticking together in the bag.Print
- 1 lb. pasta (I used cavatappi)
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3 ounces room temperature cream cheese
- 8 ounces pure pumpkin puree
- 3 cups freshly shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar, monterey jack, and mozzarella)
- 4 ounces crusty french bread
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Cook pasta according to directions. While it is boiling, start on the cheese sauce.
- In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
- When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Continue cooking and whisking for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth.
- Cook the mixture, stirring frequently until it bubbles gently and thickens, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
- Stir in the onion powder, salt, white pepper, cream cheese, and pumpkin puree until smooth.
- Add shredded cheese.
- Whisk until the cheese is melted into the sauce.
- Remove from heat.
- Pour the cheese sauce into the drained pasta and stir well.
- Pour the pasta into a greased 2 quart casserole dish.
- Use a food processor or blender to pulse the bread into course crumbs.
- In a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta, and place under the broiler, watching closely until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from oven and allow the mac and cheese to set for a few minutes.
- Top with bacon and serve.