Happy Halloween!

First of all, I need to get this out.  I can't hold it in.  GO RED SOX!!!  Wooooooo!!!!
I'm really excited.  In case you couldn't tell.  And all the excitement (which means NES and I both staying up past our bed times, high fiving a few times after they won and going to bed so we could be reasonably awake human beings today) reminded me of the excitement in the lounge of our dorm in 2007.  So many good memories.  Miss you AB, AMS, SLW, LB, KT and RB!  And I've thought of the cookies that mom and dad found us so many times recently.  I didn't see anything like them this time.  Just pumpkins.
Oh, and the 2004 era red socks came out today in celebration!!
But speaking of pumpkins, happy Halloween!
NES and I just went and got our $3 burritos at Chipotle!  And I found Waldo!
Also speaking of pumpkins, we carved our first pumpkin today!  I recalled all of dad's tips, including the notch so the lid always fits back on right.

I think he came out well. He's out there watching it rain right now.  Not the best weather for our non-existant trick or treaters.

And also, also speaking of pumpkins, I have a story to tell.  See, this past weekend there was a little matter of a Halloween get-together.  NES has been hosting the Halloween parties since before we were dating.  It's a tradition now.  They even had one in a snowstorm!

This year I laid back a little bit on the snacks.  Last year, we were planning on ordering pizza, but we had so many snacks that we never ended up getting dinner.  This year, KEB brought some really, really tasty bean dip that RB also made for the cider press.  It's good stuff.  I need to make it sometime.  KS made some salsa di parmigiano -- something I never knew existed!  You learn something new every day.

Then, came dinner.  I decided to branch out.  NES actually found the recipe.  And it just looked too fall-ish to pass up.  So, I decided to embark on an adventure: mac and cheese stuffed in pumpkins!
Cleaning out the sugar pumpkins took a while.  Thankfully I had NES to help me cut the tops off.  And then I scooped out all the seeds and goo.  My goodness.  So many seeds!
While they were doing their initial baking (and yes, I did manage to get four approximately 5 lb. pumpkins in my oven!  I might have forgotten to think about whether they would fit or not . . . ), I made the mac and cheese.
I made the original recipe's filling for two of them, and a more traditional mac and cheese for the other two.  If you know anything about my food preferences, the filling from the original recipe is pretty much everything I don't like stuffed into a pumpkin.  Ok, that's really not true.  I like some of the stuff in there.  But anyway.  I still made them!

It came out pretty well -- it was a little liquidy.  I probably should have baked it for longer, but the oven had moved on to other baking adventures by the time I realized it.
The other two pumpkins were stuffed with a mac and cheese I'd made before, actually.  Last time I made it, I was a little heavy-handed with the lemon.  This time, I figured I'd leave the lemon out.  Lemon and pumpkin along with cheese and all the other flavors didn't sound so good.
It was a much thicker mac and cheese, and didn't blend so well with the pumpkin, but I think it worked.

Also, I rediscovered my box grater.  It was wonderful.  
 Then, there was still dessert!  PNS and GWS made some wonderful blondies.  Yum.  KS also made cookies, per the request of KEB.   And NES made pumpkin dip!  Yum!   And it can't be a Halloween without candy!

Pumpkin Stuffed Mac and Cheese
adapted from Cooking on the Side

1 5 lb. sugar pumpkin
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top of the pumpkin off, as you would to make a jack-o-lantern and scoop all the seeds and goo out.  Salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin.

Replace the lid and bake in a rimmed baking dish (I even used some aluminum foil too) for 45 minutes.

Prepare one of the following filling recipes, and scoop the filling into the pumpkin.

Replace the top and bake for 1 hour, removing the lid for the last 15 minutes (so the cheese can brown).

If the meat filling seems liquidy, bake for 10 or so more minutes, or until the filling looks thickened.

Be aware that the pumpkin could split or the cream could bubble over, so definitely use a rimmed baking dish.

Allow the pumpkin to sit for 10 minutes and either scoop the mac and cheese out with the pumpkin or slice into sections.  Serves 4.

Sausage Mac and Cheese 
from Cooking on the Side 

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
6 oz. macaroni
5 oz. Fontina cheese, in 1/4 inch cubes
2 oz. Gruyere chese, in 1/4 inch cubes
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1 tsp. chopped sage
1 cup whole milk

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, and remove the sausages from their casings, if necessary.  Crumble the sausage into small chunks and cook until lightly browned.  Allow the sausage to cool and remove from the drippings.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.

In a bowl, mix the cheeses, sausage, pasta, scallions and herbs.  Pour the milk over the mixture once it is in the pumpkin.

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese 
adapted from Cook Like a Champion

3/4 lb. penne
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 tbsp. flour
5 oz. ricotta cheese
3 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. chopped thyme
1 egg yolk

Cook the penne according to package directions.  Drain.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, shallot and garlic to a simmer.  Remove 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to a separate bowl and whisk in the flour.  Add back into the saucepan.  Whisk over medium heat until thick, or about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the cheeses.  Whisk until melted.  Add the sour cream, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the egg yolk in the bowl and gradually add 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture, whisking until combined well.  Gradually add the egg mixture into the cheese mixture and mix till combined.

Toss the pasta with the sauce until coated.


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