This deliciously creamy pumpkin bacon mac and cheese recipe is such a perfect mix of flavors and a great ONE POT DISH to get a weeknight dinner on the table quickly.
We’re in the throes of school schedules, the onset of fall (thought it’s still in the 80’s here in Florida, we’re finding our fall) and pumpkin… well, pumpkin everything. And while it’s not always easy to get a home cooked meal on the table between school, activities and homework, one pot meals have become a secret weapon for me! Meals come together more quickly and when I know there will be less to clean up, then I’m more likely to make it happen.
So, this simple recipe is made all in one pan and was such a hit our family devoured it right up. The salty crunch of bacon, the creamy texture of cheese and the smooth, semi sweet pumpkin all combine into a pan full of flavor that hits the spot every time. In fact we’ve had it twice in one week! It’s so fun and the great thing is that you can mix it up by tossing in a variety of flavors every time… spinach, sausage, goat cheese, gruyere, you name it!
The trick to the bold flavor and creaminess is cooking the bacon first to flavor the pan, then cook the pasta right in the milk to soak up the cream instead of water! It’s a win-win, because it totally cuts out a step, no more boiling, cooking, straining… you can just throw it all right in and let the pan do the work for you. SO good. Seriously, you’ll never cook mac and cheese the same way again!!
We have loved partnering with Horizon this year because no matter what it is we’re whipping up in the kitchen, my goal is sticking to simple, recognizable ingredients in everything we make. My kids are what matter most in my life and for them especially, better food matters. Just because we’re in a busy season full of changes, it doesn’t mean nutrition has to be compromised, and why I like using uncomplicated options like Horizon organic macaroni and cheese mixes; such a great way to help get dinner on the table quickly. Do I always get it right? Absolutely NOT, but I love to try… and then sometimes sneak a stop for doughnuts in when I get the craving. 😉
Also, in a nod to fall’s signature squash, I decided to add pumpkin. But more than just a flavor infusion, it also packs a healthy punch, like keeping the heart healthy, vision sharp, immune system boosted and waistlines in check… when it’s not in pie form that is. 😉 With more potassium than a banana, high in Vitamin A, C and beta-carotene, pumpkin is definitely more than just the ever popular taste of fall.
- 2 Boxes Horizon Organic White Cheddar Shells and Cheese
- 3 C Horizon Organic whole milk
- 2 Tbls butter
- 8 strips of bacon
- 1 C pureed pumpkin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/3 C panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 C grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 C freshly chopped chives
- 1. Cook bacon in a large (oven proof) skillet over medium/high heat. Remove and set aside.
- 2. Add butter to pan and whisk in the milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer.
- 3. Quickly add the macaroni, and salt and pepper, stirring constantly while cooking, about 6 minutes, or until al dente. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while you cook.
- 4. Turn off the heat and carefully stir in the cheese mixes from the boxes and pumpkin. Mix in chopped bacon.
- 5. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, breadcrumbs, and parmesan.
- 6. Pour the breadcrumb mixture over the mac and cheese and broil for 2 minutes or until golden and toasted. Top with the chives and serve hot.
- 7. Enjoy!
- You can add more cream, milk or cheese if desired for an even creamier pasta dish. The flavor is full with the addition of bacon, but feel free to add other seasonings or garlic while cooking! This dish is easy to throw together for those busy weeknights!
Who knew that a boxed macaroni and cheese would become my new favorite fall dinner recipe! Tell me, have you played with versions of mac and cheese before? What flavors have you made? If you try, I’d love to hear, just snap a pic and tag me on Twitter, Instagram or wherever you like to share 😉
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.