Pumpkin White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Happy Monday pumpkin people! Chicago has taken a turn back to winter lately....brr! The temperatures dipped over the weekend, which had me craving something warm and cheesy and pumpkin-y! I had a box of Banaza pasta handy in my pantry, and just like I like to pair white chocolate with pumpkin pancakes, white cheddar pairs perfectly with pumpkin paste! 

This recipe skips the heavy cream found in typical mac and cheeses, and swaps it for whole-milk yogurt! The creaminess from the pumpkin complements the yogurt and white cheddar cheese to a tee. The best part is that this meal left me feeling extremely satisfied because Banza pasta is made from chickpeas, aka lots of fiber! Pair that with the fiber from the pumpkin and you have the perfect meatless monday meal if that's your thing! And if pumpkin is your thing, (I'm assuming it is if you're reading this) you'll definitely enjoy this cozy pumpkin comfort food!

 

Ingredients

1 box Banza pasta shells

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 container siggi's whole-milk vanilla yogurt (client) 

1/4 cup Kerrygold aged cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, (additional to sprinkle on top)

1/4 cup pepitas 

fresh ground pepper

Optional add ins:

  • sauteed spinach, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes

 

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Directions

Follow cooking directions on the box on Banza pasta, and cook as directed. Meanwhile, in medium saucepan combine cheeses, yogurt and pumpkin and stir until combined. Pour pumpkin cheddar sauce over pasta and garnish with pepper and pepitas. It's seriously that simple! Enjoy!

From the RD corner, this pasta is a great source of protein and fiber. I also really like it because it's a great alternative to regular pasta--and no difference in taste! I love pairing it with other vegetables, and with or without another source of protein because it's a good source on its own. Swapping yogurt for heavy cream often found in mac and cheese recipes, didn't make me feel like I was missing out at all. Definitely worth trying! 

If you have any other tips or tricks for making a creamy mac and cheese, leave me a comment because I'd love to know! 

xoxo, 

Pumpkin Girl 

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, Apple of My Eye

As I continue to explore the squash family (lol, aka I don't discriminate when it comes to gourds!) I've found that spaghetti squash is cooler, easier to make, and more delicious than I ever thought! A few weeks ago I made some spaghetti squash, ever so simple, with just parmesan cheese and black pepper, which got me thinking how many more things it could lend itself to. 

So I bring you this recipe for spaghetti squash pad thai! Instead of the peanut pad thai sauce you often come across at restaurants, I changed it up with almond butter, and it honestly tasted amazing!  I came home to find my mom eating it, and she's a tough critic when it comes to non-Polish food, so I'd say that means you have to try it. It can be eaten literally out of the squash....you don't even have to put it on a plate if you really can't manage the dishes.....! It's a one stop shop for flavor, colors, nutrients, protein, fiber, healthy carbs, and a little kick. 

I loved the way this Asian squash "boat" came out, and I know you will too! 

Ingredients

For the squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 5-6 baby carrots, grated
  • 8-10 mini red, yellow & orange peppers,  julienned into thin strips
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1 lime, quartered 

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce, I used this one
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 generous tbsp. of almond butter (homemade) 
  • 1 tbsp. (or a little less) grated, fresh, ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut through spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds. Coat with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, and let cool for 30 minutes before scraping spaghetti out with a fork

Meanwhile, prepare veggies and sauce. Sautee snow peas and peppers. Use a fork to loosen the spaghetti squash, then spoon sauce over squash. Add veggies, including grated carrot. Scramble the egg and put it on top of the veggies. Garnish with one quarter of the lime and enjoy!

I hope you like this recipe, and I would love to know what you think if you try it! Don't forget to sign up for my FALL 2017 e-newsletter below! You don't want to be in the dark on new pumpkin products come August when that first pumpkin spice latte strikes! 

xoxo,

Pumpkin girl 

 

When Places Do Pumpkin: 2017, Part I: Pret A Manger

Missed my train, took a lap around the train station and what do I see?

Pret A Manger is serving up a new toasted tortilla with butternut squash! A butternut squash ricotta toasted tortilla, that caught my eye because aside from Panera in the fall, I haven't really seen a fast-casual place do pumpkin or butternut squash in a dish. So naturally when I spotted this butternut ricotta panini, I had to grab it! I wasn't ready to eat it right then, so I took it home. The workers let me know it's best when heated up by them, but my own panini maker did the trick too. Verdict? Not bad! It definitely satisfied my squash tooth. Ha! Here's a couple more tidbits about what I thought.....

Grilling it up on my home panini maker!

Grilling it up on my home panini maker!

Inside of Pret A Manger's Butternut Squash Ricotta Tortilla

  • The walnuts. They were huge! Toward the end I had to pick them out! I like walnuts, but maybe they could halve them, or find smaller ones? lol. 
  • The squash gets a glowing A. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I like pairing squash + spinach in savory dishes, and I stand by my statement that this combo works!
  • The ricotta. A little overpowering. Personally I'd prefer feta! Pret A why don't you Fet A?! But seriously, a melty parmesan would have also complemented the flavors nicely.

From the RD corner, this panini was 440 calories, and 17 grams of sugar. Usually I go for something with a good amount of protein, but this was reminiscent of fall flavors, so if you're in the mood for that, and looking to switch it up why not try it for lunch! I liked trying it, but probably won't get it again, but I will try to remake my own version, cause that's just how I play! (think whole-wheat tortilla, butternut squash, spinach, parmesan, and something crunchy, that's not walnuts!) Any thought on that?? Let me know! 

Also, if you've had this before I want to know what you thought! 

xoxo, 

Pumpkin Girl 

Renting the Runway & Recipe Testing // Happy President's Day Weekend!

The gorgeous bride, Briana and I! 

The gorgeous bride, Briana and I! 

Not much feels better then the Sunday of a 3 day weekend....amirite?! This weekend was especially sweet because it was one of my childhood best friend's wedding! She was a stunning, glowing, radiant, insert any other adjective for gorgeous, bride! It was so nice to see one of your oldest friends, so happy, and so in love! I definitely shed a tear watching them say their vows! It was also such a glorious weekend in Chicago weather wise, with temps in the 60s! Making it feel more like Memorial Day weekend, not President's day weekend! That's more than unheard of for this time of year, so you can imagine everyone was taking full advantage by being out and about. And after 3 days of it, I hope it stays this way (but know it won't!) 

For the wedding I tried Rent the Runway for the first time, and was super happy with the dress and their customer service! Here's why.....

  • They send you two dresses. That's right, I got a back up size, which was great since I wasn't exactly sure how the sizes would fit. 
  • They contact you when you don't pick a back up size. Ok, so at first I forgot to pick one, but they reach out and make sure you've got it! I also liked their accessory recommendations. I didn't end up ordering any from them, but it was great inspiration to go back through my own jewelry (or my sisters) to find something similar. 
  • The dresses come in the same bag you need to return them in with a label, too. Done deal. You don't have to think about shipping back because it's as simple as 1,2,3. I dropped the dresses off at my local UPS store before noon today, and that's it! 
  • I loved the variety. For both colors and styles, there was so many to choose from for every occasion. I'll definitely be trying it again for special events in the future! 

Here's the BCBGMaxazria Kauri Gown I rented in black.  You can click this link for more details.

Before the festivities, I whipped a batch of these avocado, pumpkin banana muffins. I know what you're thinking. Fiber bomb. Hah, ok that's what I was thinking. But anyways, they came out super fluffy, and the whole house smelled amazing when they were baking! I made regular sized ones, and mini ones. I've been eating them slathered in my homemade pumpkin spice almond butter (recipe a few posts back) and/or 88 acres pumpkin seed butter.  

(Please note: this post does include affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase the products. There is no additional cost to you!)

AVO PUMPKIN NANNER MUFFINS

Ingredients 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pumpkin (I used Farmer's Market Organic Pumpkin)
1 whole avocado, mashed
1 large banana, mashed
1 + 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice ( I used McCormick's Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

Pre-heat oven the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine pumpkin, avocado, banana, eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk flour baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. With the mixer on medium speed, mix the wet ingredients until combined, then add the dry little by little, until combined. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out muffins for regular sized muffins or mini muffins. Make sure pans are lined. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffin tops look puffy and golden.

Have you ever used RTR before? What'd you think? I'd love to know! 

However you spent this weekend, whether short or long, I hope it was restful, enjoyable and filled with delicious food! p.s. Is winter over yet? I need to be closer to fall! 

xoxo,

Pumpkin Girl 

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Every Bath & Body Works PUMPKIN Scent Ranked

It's time to stop and smell the pumpkins....

Pumpkin scents being back at Bath and Body Works is right up there with when Starbucks not so secretly brings PSL's back in August. Don't try to hang out with me the day after Labor Day. I'm busy hitting all stores I deem "pumpkin lovers"... bath and body works being near the top on that list! I don't know if it's the pictures of leaves and perfect pumpkins on the labels of these scents, or their names that I love more. If you've never stocked up on pumpkin hand cream, anti-bacterial soap, body spray, body wash, body cream, body lotion, shower gel, or bubble bath, from BB&W's pumpkin collection I'm not sure you've experienced fall to it's fullest. If you don't smell like a pumpkin, you're not doing it right. And I haven't even mentioned the candles! 

So here we go, I'm taking the time to stop and smell the pumpkins. Literally. You can thank me when it's still hot out but that huge sign at Bath and Body Works announcing their fall flavor draws you in, and it's over. Banana pumpkin muffin, pumpkin french toast...it might get confusing if I'm eating these or putting them on my body, so try to keep up! Enter my room and you'd think I'm living in one of these candles. And that's just the way I like it! 

#18 Pumpkin Woods

Maybe because I'm not outdoorsy, but the pumpkin in this one was lost on me! I do love the cute owl on the label, so props for that one BBW, just don't put me in the woods because that's not where the pumpkins are....

Maybe because I'm not outdoorsy, but the pumpkin in this one was lost on me! I do love the cute owl on the label, so props for that one BBW, just don't put me in the woods because that's not where the pumpkins are....

#17 Pumpkin Cranberry Cider

I do love dried cranberries in my pumpkin bread, and this scent reminded me of a sweet pumpkin dream. Not my favorite, but if cranberries are your thing it's definitely something to mull over...get it?!

I do love dried cranberries in my pumpkin bread, and this scent reminded me of a sweet pumpkin dream. Not my favorite, but if cranberries are your thing it's definitely something to mull over...get it?!

#16 Pumpkin Berry Crumble

Maybe it's the blue color of the label that doesn't draw me into this one, but anything pumpkin flavored with a crumble gets points in my book. When it's 3 for $12, this would be my 3rd!

Maybe it's the blue color of the label that doesn't draw me into this one, but anything pumpkin flavored with a crumble gets points in my book. When it's 3 for $12, this would be my 3rd!

#15 Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake

I make a pumpkin cheesecake every year for Thanksgiving. The aroma fills the house and just smelling it baking is like a warm fall hug. You can almost smell the cream cheese and spices all baking together. This one reminds me of that, and I'm all for it! Definitely one to try if you haven't yet. 

I make a pumpkin cheesecake every year for Thanksgiving. The aroma fills the house and just smelling it baking is like a warm fall hug. You can almost smell the cream cheese and spices all baking together. This one reminds me of that, and I'm all for it! Definitely one to try if you haven't yet. 

#14 Heirloom Pumpkin 

Bring the pumpkin patch to your living room with this one, people. When I pluck a pumpkin right off the vine in the middle of an enchanted pumpkin patch somewhere in Michigan, this is what it smells like. Completely real!

Bring the pumpkin patch to your living room with this one, people. When I pluck a pumpkin right off the vine in the middle of an enchanted pumpkin patch somewhere in Michigan, this is what it smells like. Completely real!

#13 Berry Pumpkin Strudel 

 

Fruity, pumpkin fun with this one. It fell short for me though, maybe the decor on the label did too. I love blueberries, but they wouldn't be my fruit of choice to pair with anything pumpkin. That right is reserved for bananas, duh! Save your pumpkin pennies for others. 

Fruity, pumpkin fun with this one. It fell short for me though, maybe the decor on the label did too. I love blueberries, but they wouldn't be my fruit of choice to pair with anything pumpkin. That right is reserved for bananas, duh! Save your pumpkin pennies for others. 

#12 Pumpkin Apple

Pumpkin and apple. A quintessential fall combination...and for good reason! I would also call this one tart pumpkin. Think a cross between a granny smith apple and a pumpkin...aka granny pumpkin, or me on a Saturday night! 

Pumpkin and apple. A quintessential fall combination...and for good reason! I would also call this one tart pumpkin. Think a cross between a granny smith apple and a pumpkin...aka granny pumpkin, or me on a Saturday night! 

#11 Pumpkin Pie 

Ah yes. You can't go wrong with this classic pumpkin scent. But with flavors like pumpkin french toast, are you really going to just settle with this one? Think about it. I still got one thought because, yeah. 

Ah yes. You can't go wrong with this classic pumpkin scent. But with flavors like pumpkin french toast, are you really going to just settle with this one? Think about it. I still got one thought because, yeah. 

#10 Pumpkin Pecan Waffles

Let me start by saying, I hate pecans! I know! I know! They do go well with pumpkin stuff, but they don't go well with me. I have this one in a mini candle and that's the perfect amount of nutty pumpkin for me! 

Let me start by saying, I hate pecans! I know! I know! They do go well with pumpkin stuff, but they don't go well with me. I have this one in a mini candle and that's the perfect amount of nutty pumpkin for me! 

#9 Caramel Pumpkin Swirl 

Ribbons of pumpkin laced into sweet sticky caramel..anyone else thinking of a decadent fall drink? Yeah, best part of this is the scent is calorie free, and lasts longer. A way better investment if you ask me! 

#8 Pumpkin Apple Cider

A little sweet for my taste, but with hints of sweet cinnamon-y apple cider, and buttered rum it may be confusing if your supposed to drink this body wash or use it in the shower! Either way, I don't hate it. 

A little sweet for my taste, but with hints of sweet cinnamon-y apple cider, and buttered rum it may be confusing if your supposed to drink this body wash or use it in the shower! Either way, I don't hate it. 

#7 Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin 

Correct me if I'm wrong but this scent was one of the original BBW pumpkin scents. I have it in body wash, body lotion, hand cream, mini hand cream, anti bacterial and the list goes on! It will always remind me of fall, and a great gateway scent if you're just getting into the pumpkin game. 

#6 Salted Caramel Pumpkin

My sister loves everything caramel. You could say that is her flavor! This scent is like a mix of the both of us. Sweet, classy and hard to resist! It's definitely one of my favorite new ones that came out last fall! Caramel lovers won't be able to stay away. 

#5 Pumpkin Spice

The queen B of pumpkin scents, if you will. Anything but basic, this scent will put you right in the mood for fall, especially if you buy it in August when it's still summer. White barn is affiliated with BBW, so if you have one of those near you, you won't miss out on the pumpkinpalooza!

The queen B of pumpkin scents, if you will. Anything but basic, this scent will put you right in the mood for fall, especially if you buy it in August when it's still summer. White barn is affiliated with BBW, so if you have one of those near you, you won't miss out on the pumpkinpalooza!

#4 Pumpkin Banana Muffin

Does anything sound better than actually eating one of these bad boys?! I'd take a pumpkin banana muffin any time, any where and that's just how I feel about this scent! Light the candle and bake some muffins, people. 

#3 Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte

This scent is like a fluffy pumpkin cloud. Can someone please tell me how to make an actual marshmallow pumpkin latte that I can drink while I rub marshmallow pumpkin latte lotion all over?! I'm obsessed with this one and have it in every single shape and form....you should too! 

2# Coconut Pumpkin Latte

Am I on a tropical island or pumpkin patch?! Or both?! This scent is the best of both worlds, and if you know a place where I can get an actual coconut pumpkin latte, I want to know! Stock up on this one in the hand soap, because long after you've washed your hands you'll smell this, and be happy for fall, pumpkin and life! 

Am I on a tropical island or pumpkin patch?! Or both?! This scent is the best of both worlds, and if you know a place where I can get an actual coconut pumpkin latte, I want to know! Stock up on this one in the hand soap, because long after you've washed your hands you'll smell this, and be happy for fall, pumpkin and life! 

#1 Pumpkin French Toast 

To give you a complete picture of why I picked pumpkin french toast as TOP PUMPKIN BATH & BODY WORKS SCENT, I can't even have this candle open in my room without automatically feeling hungry, thinking about fluffy pumpkin french toast and running to the kitchen to start making brunch. Absolute pumpkin genius with this one and recipe inspiration too! When you see this one out this fall, grab as many as you can and run!

xoxo, 

Pumpkin Girl