Creamy Pumpkin Mac N’ Cheese

Pumpkin Mac N Cheese || This month, oh – this month, it’s been a doozy.  It’s left me feeling incredibly thankful and much more sensitive to what others may be going through.

Real talk recap:

  • I am drowning, lost at sea style, in pre-calculus.  Is there any way to just white-out that portion of my transcript?
  • Four doctors and almost 2 months later I was worried I had melanoma in my eye, thanks to a certain over-zealous (but well-meaning) doctor.  Turned out to be nothing.  Thankful doesn’t begin. Loving short, broken sentences.
  • My guy had a close call in his helicopter, which I didn’t truly understand the severity of until a (again) well-meaning pilot came up to me at a party saying “So what did you think of that asdfjkl failure?”  Trust me, they don’t do that unless it’s a big OS moment.  Which by the way, I’m proud to say I smoothly answered “Oh I knew he could handle it.”  (And I’m never smooth! Silver Lining.)
  • And to cap it all off, my grandmother fell, she’s okay but it was scary.

Enough, I say.

Sometimes life gets frustrating, terrifying, and out of our control, and it’s time to take charge of what you can, and call your best friend for what you can’t.  And, you add pumpkin to cheese sauce.  And use instagram photos instead of fancy pants DLSR – XYZ, tripod photos.  And drink champagne on a Tuesday night.  Life’s just too short.


Okay, maybe putting pumpkin in mac n’ cheese isn’t quite that dramatic, but maybe for some of us, it is.   I’m not a sky diving, adrenaline junky (I leave that to my husband), but I am a pumpkin mac n’ cheese maker.  That’s just the right amount of risk I like in my life.  And, it was totally worth it.  Creamy -slightly sweet from the pumpkin- cheddar cheese sauce baked with the most fun noodles ever.  Sprinkle with panko for a little crunch, and cozy on up to this bowl of comfort.

Creamy Pumpkin Mac N’ Cheese


  • 1 lb box Cellentani noodles (or whatever you like)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 pound shredded cheddar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • sprinkle of chicago steak seasoning (optional but encouraged)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Get the noodles boiling as instructed on the box. Drain.
  3. In a dutch oven, or sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat.
  4. Add the flour and whisk, lower heat to medium, and continuing cooking and whisking until the mixture turns a light, golden brown color - about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the milk slowly, whisking at the same time. Also, add the dry mustard. Continue cooking/whisking action until the sauce thickens and is smooth. (This may take a few minutes)
  6. Add the cheese, and stir until it's melted in to the sauce evenly.
  7. Finally add the pumpkin puree, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to mix everything all together.
  8. If you're using a dutch oven, add the noodles to the sauce and mix well, coating the noodles evenly.
  9. Otherwise, add the noodles and sauce to an oven-safe dish, mixing together well and coating the noodles evenly.
  10. Sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs and a dash of the chicago steak seasoning if you like! We loved that extra bit of spice.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and bubbly. Enjoy!


Cheese sauce adapted from Pioneer Woman

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  1. Julie says

    Oh, honey! I’m so sorry. And I say doozy, but you don’t want to necessarily go on my vocabulary. Sometimes, that has to be the word to describe things. And I’m convinced that God gave us carbs just to help with the tense, scary, can’t-deal-with-one-more-thing moments (carbs and best friends of over 40 years). When hubby was in the hospital (and I didn’t realize just how very sick he was until I had an appt at our doctor and she told me she really wasn’t sure he was going to make it), I would come home late from the hospital and eat pretty much every carb in the house. It helped. I hope that things calm down for you and you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Truly, other than the pre-calc thing (and really, there is nothing positive about math), it sounds like you have lots to be thankful for. :)

    • says

      I’m so glad your hubby is okay! Amen to carbs and best friends, you nailed it – we will be saying a lot of thanks this Thursday. I hope you and Stephie (and family) have a wonderful Thanksgiving too. I’m feeling the love over here, thanks for saying hi :) BTW, my Aunt lives just outside of Chicago too, in Algonquin is that anywhere near you guys?

      • Julie says

        Actually, we live in Peoria (where the tornados were last week). Stephie lives in Forest Park (Chicago), which according to google maps, is about an hour from Algonquin. Then and again, everything is at least 30 minutes away when you live in Chicago. :) We will have a great Thanksgiving. Heading to Indiana to be with family and to celebrate a certain girl’s 25th birthday (which is on Thanksgiving Day). Always nice to have lots to be thankful for.

  2. says

    So sorry to hear that you’ve been having a crazy month! Ours has been that same way. . .all kinds of things happening that aren’t in our control. Sometimes you just have to stop, breathe, and remember the things you are thankful for! This mac and cheese looks like perfect comfort food!