Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

March 6 - Trius Red Wine Mini-Burgers & Pumpkin Mac & Cheese & salad
March 7 - Spelt pancakes layered with goat cheese garlicky spinach, grated beets & carrots & a fried egg for Meatless Monday
March 8 - dinner out with Shack & Little Shack at Cieli Cottage - oysters abound!

Monday I had my first big fail of the challenge.  The Boy ordered in a pizza he was so unsatisfied by dinner.  I liked it but it was an on the fly kinda of thing that I wasn't sold on either so it didn't cause a domestic, but it did bum me out.  It's been quite some time since I had a fail like that for dinner.  At least I now know for sure he doesn't just pretend to like everything I make.  The meal in my mind was a delicious like crepe filled with tasty veggie goodness and folded, with  almost all of the ingredients coming from the Brickworks Farmer's Market (organic spelt flour, beets, carrots, goat cheese) I was excited as I haven't made a farmer's market meal since the fall.  Unfortunately my crepe-making mojo was not there on Monday, so I improvised with little spelt pancakes and made a napoleon-like dish with them.  It sounds oh-so-pretty and maybe even delicious, but according to the Boy something was missing.  I don't necessarily agree but it was a but clunky and not as elegant as I would have hoped.  Luckily I can't try it as is again, but I look forward to playing with this idea on a future Meatless Monday.

It's not necessary to say that we love mac & cheese in our house anyone who knows the Boy and I knows that.  When I set about making the Red Wine Mini-Burgers for dinner on Sunday I knew I'd need a side, I also knew I had a cheese drawer full of the ends of blocks of cheese we had eaten over the last few weeks.  We generally only eat the good stuff on a special occasion, like Valentine's Day, or when we have company, our recent guests of my sis, her BF and my dad.  With nothing special on the horizon rather than let the cheese go to waste I knew it would make for a delicious mac & cheese.  Last fall I made some Mac & Cheese using pumpkin as the base for the sauce rather than a traditional bechemel.  The boy really liked it and I lied the extra vitamins and a bit less fat that it gave to a traditionally decadent dish.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
serves 4

1 lb elbow-shaped pasta
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups of grated cheese - I used 1 cup old cheddar, 1/3 cup Comte, 1/3 cup Beemsters Extra Old, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano
crumbled potato chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta as directed on the package.
2.  In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat the milk and pumpkin stirring to combine until simmering.  Remove from heat and add in the cheese.
3. Carefully toss the cooked pasta with the pumpkin cheese sauce. Divide evenly among 4 buttered ramekins or into a medium buttered casserole dish.  Top with crumbled chips.
4. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and into the oven or place the casserole dish directly into the oven.  Bake for at least 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top has started to become golden brown.  Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

The crumbled chips was a nod to my mom who would always put crumbled potato chips on top of her tuna noodle.  Since the challenge is all about switching things up why not switch out my standard bread crumb topping for some crunchy chips?  The boy wasn't a fan, so it won't happen again even though I liked it.

While the burger paired with this mac & cheese made for a rather rich meal, the burgers were far from full size and besides that I figure we won't be eating the baked gooey goodness of mac & cheese once the warmer weather gets here so we might as well take advantage now.  I think with how delicious Sunday night's meal was it made for a bigger fail on Monday, but I take it in stride as it's all part of the process.

Carole has shared some of her dinner fails, I don't know if Dianne's elegant food ever qualifies as a fail, but have you had any epic dinner fails?