Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

October 31, 2020

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Week 34*: Pumpkin Mac

Let me be clear up front – I am NOT part of the Pumpkin Spice Latte brigade, or, for that matter, almost any other type of Pumpkin Spice insanity that seems to start in about mid-August. I love pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and that’s about the extent of my pumpkin consumption.

But other than the ridiculousness of PSL mania, I have nothing against pumpkins in general. Every year, my parents invite everyone over one weekend in October so the kids can get their pumpkins from Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch. Some years it’s a MAGIC pumpkin patch – one day there are no pumpkins in the garden, and the next day there’s a whole full-sized crop! (And coincidentally, in those years, the local farm stand suddenly has a couple dozen less pumpkins for sale!)

In the early years, he’d hitch a cart to his riding lawn mower and drive the kids the 25 yards or so back to the garden to pick out their pumpkins; and then drive them ALL THE WAY back across the yard, where they’d carve their jack o’lanterns.  Both the number and the size of the kids has grown significantly, so this year he filled up the back of his pickup bed with grandkids. (The grownups had to WALK. We know who the favorites are.)

I intended to bring this dish, but it was one of the coldest years we’ve had for this event and with everyone being outside, I wasn’t sure whether it would get eaten or be ignored in favor of hot dogs and s’mores in the fire pit. So it got pushed back a little.

But it’s still Halloween week and pumpkins are still all the rage for a few more days and there are a jillion pumpkin-based mac & cheese recipes floating around out there so I’m getting it in just under the wire!

Pumpkin Mac

Adapted from Rachel Ray


  • 16 ounces shell pasta
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 14.5 ounce can of pure pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder (see notes)
  • ½ tsp. ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, then add the pasta and cook for 12 minutes. When you drain it, reserve the pasta water in case the sauce needs thinning. It probably will.
  • Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add the milk and whisk to combine. Continue cooking for several minutes until it thickens.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the pumpkin.
  • Stir in the seasonings.
  • Add the cheeses and stir until fully melted.
  • If sauce appears very thick (mine was), start with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and add a little at a time to thin.
  • Combine the sauce and pasta and serve.


I was pretty skeptical about this one, but willing to give it a try for the theme of the week. Even while I was putting it together, it didn’t seem very appetizing – I don’t know if it was the smell of the pumpkin? Fortunately, since it made a LARGE batch, I was wrong, it’s quite good! The pumpkin blends into the cheese and spices so that it’s not specifically noticeable AS pumpkin but it still adds some interesting flavor. The cayenne, nutmeg, and dry mustard add a nice kick as well.


  • The recipe called for granulated garlic, which I was SURE I had but couldn’t find in my pantry.  Google assures me that granulated garlic and garlic powder are the same thing, just different textures.  Garlic powder is a little more intense, so if you’re using the granulated form, you may want to increase it to 1 teaspoon.

Posted October 31, 2020

*As with last week, this is more like Week 34.85. So much for getting back on track. Where do the days GO? I’ll try again tomorrow to get the schedule back to where it should be. Maybe the extra hour will be just what I need.

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