Monday, November 14, 2011

Cheese as Prozac

We could chatter all day about the universal reality that is food as comfort versus the particularly-American tendency to abuse that phenomenon. 

But sometimes it's necessary to close your pie hole, shut off your brain, and just experience it...

Chopping as as pacifier.  

Carbohydrates as a band-aid. 

Whisking as therapy. 

Cheese as Prozac. 

Sunday Supper: Rosemary Pumpkin Mac

Yesterday, after hours of early Thanksgiving food prep, with 5 lbs of squash chopped and steamed and casseroled into submission, cranberries cooling in jars on my kitchen ledge, I decided we deserved a little insta-comfort.  Back to the market we went... back to the cutting board and the oven and the stove.  

Whisk in hand, a mountain of dishes soaking in the sink, I started to feel less frantic... less jumbled about inside.  

We sat down together, steaming bowls of velvety pumpkin shells steaming between us, and talked about our daughter.  And how excited we are to meet her. 

And I started to feel peace... to feel the faith.  

Pumpkin & Rosemary Shells & Cheese
adapted from PBS' Fresh Tastes
served with Roasted Brussels Sprouts {recipe here} 

- 16 oz. whole wheat orecchiette
- 3 T. butter
- 4 T. flour
- 3 c. + 1/3 c. milk
- 12 oz. cheese, grated {I used a mix of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan}
- 8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed {this is 1/4 of the large brick}
- 1 c. pumpkin puree 
- 1 T. fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 t. cayenne pepper 
- 1/2 c. panko or breadcrumbs {I used breadcrumbs I had in the freezer made from whole wheat pita} 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook pasta in heavily salted water, removing from heat and draining 3 minutes prior to the specified cook time on the package.  

Melt butter in a large skillet over Medium-High heat. Add flour, whisking for about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups of milk and the rosemary, whisking continuously until smooth.  Add the third cup of milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  

Turn down heat to Medium {if you're using an electric stove top and a pan that is not non-stick, you might want to go to Medium-Low}.  Reserving a handful for topping, add cheese blend and whisk until combined.  Add Velveeta and stir until fully melted and combined.  Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and pumpkin, followed by the additional 1/3 c. of milk.  Stir / whisk until smooth. 

Toss cheese sauce with cooked pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish {9x13}.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs  Cook for 30 minutes.  If you're a Crispy Topping Guy or Gal, switch your broiler on at the very end for 1-2 minutes.  

Enjoy with someone who makes all your days brighter. 


Serves 8.  


  1. This looks heavenly - the perfect eat your feelings dish. Hope you're having happy feelings friend!

  2. I couldn't agree more and had a similar routine yesterday. Chops, stir, repeat.

  3. I can't wait to make this! Yum!

  4. I started making this as soon as I saw the post because it sounded so amazing. The sauce is DELICIOUS!

  5. Yum, that looks divine!!! I just read Thursday's post and it brought tears to my eyes...not because I don't have faith that everything will be a-okay, but because I remember all those moments of fear and uncertainty during my pregnancy. We had several scares, near misses, and possible complications. I turned myself into a big, walking encyclopedia of all things pregnancy-related (the good and the bad). I obsessed over the internet far too much and read all the horror stories until I was a ball of seriously, my obgyn said I was the "highest anxiety" patient she had ever seen. Geeze...Thanks alot, Doc. Well, after 9 months of constant worry everything turned out perfectly. I had a healthy bundle of joy and you WILL, too. Sending good vibes to you and Quesita for the rest of your pregnancy. You are entitled to eat all the cheese you please:)

  6. Oh yum, this looks insanely amazing! So glad this yummy meal made you feel a little better!

  7. This looks so delicious! Perfect for a cozy, cold day.

  8. Those brussel sprouts don't look too shabby either!

  9. You know I find comfort in the kitchen, too. In fact, I've finally gotten my culinary groove back since Sam was born, and it feels oh so good. As for this dish, YUM! We made a pumpkin mac and cheese last fall, but I love the addition of rosemary in this recipe.

  10. This is happening this weekend. I can. Not. WAIT. to make it. (Ok... so maybe I'll make it tonight... for myself. And eat it for 8 nights in a row until it's gone.)

  11. Made this tonight. The honey was skeptical...then he stuffed his face. IT WAS HEAVEN!


happy little comments!