Pumpkin Curry Macaroni and Cheese

It's finally FINALLY cooled back down here in SoCal. While everyone back home was talking about rainy days and drinking hot cider, I was over here on the west coast dying from the insane dry heat we were getting. Nothing says fall more than wearing summer dresses and drinking iced coffee.  So, needless to say, I was really happy when the temperature started to dip into the 70's and immediately started pulling out my cans of pumpkin.

While most people view the fall as time to break out pumpkin spice things, I always look to the pumpkin itself. I love finding recipes that use pumpkin puree as part of the ingredients in a savory dish. This recipe was one that I was really excited to try because the Mister loved mac and cheese, and I'm a huge fan of curry dishes. So, the fact that it combined the two and incorporated pumpkin into the mix was a complete win.

recipe adapted from Flavor Mosaic

  • 2 cups of elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pasta to al dente in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
  2. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Pour in Half and half. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in curry powder. Stir in pumpkin and 1 cup mozzarella until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a2-quart rectangular baking dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the pasta. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the cheese. Spray with cooking spray.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Okay, so this isn't the best picture in the world. It's just so hard to get a good picture of a creamy, frothy drink without it looking like a white fluffy mess in a cup. So, even though this doesn't look as cool and colorful as the amusement park's version, it's still delicious. Trust me!

Now, if you've ever read or watched Harry Potter, then you are well aware of butterbeer. However, it's nothing anyone has ever had a reference to before because the author made it up. However, she's been quoted saying that she imagines it to be a "little bit like less sickly butterscotch." So, with that in mind I scoured the internet looking for a recipe that would match the description, and crazily enough I only found one recipe that matched that description. So many places, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, make their butterbeer with cream soda. Which to me, would make it far too sweet and not really falling under the author's description of what she envisioned when she wrote the drink into the books. This butterbeer recipe doesn't use sugary soda as the base, it uses seltzer water. It gets the flavor from the homemade toffee sauce you make, the creamy texture from the dash of half and half, and the wonderful foamy top from the dairy reacting to the carbonation in the water. That's it! You can add more or less of the toffee syrup and/or cream to give the drink more sweetness/creaminess based off of your personal preference. You can also make this both hot and cold. I tried both and wound up dumping the warm version. There's just something about a warm fizzy drink that didn't appeal to me. However, I love the cold version. This is actually my second year making butterbeer but it's a tradition I plan keep. There's just nothing better than sitting down to watch Harry Potter with a butterbeer in hand.

recipe adapted from The Fig Test Kitchen

Toffee Syrup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, plus 4 tablespoons 
  • 2/3 cup water, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 stick butter 
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Mix 4 tablespoons brown sugar with 1 tablespoon water and microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute until a syrup is formed.
2. In a medium-small saucepan, combine 1 cup dark brown sugar with butter and syrup. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture bubbles a bit.
3. Add 2/3 cup water and vanilla extract. Gently boil for about 10 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken and gets syrupy.
4. Remove from heat. This is also awesome on vanilla ice cream, just for the record.

  • Toffee syrup 
  • Half and Half
  • Seltzer water (I used individual cans so it would stay carbonated)

Hot Variation
  1. Mix 2-3 tbsp toffee syrup with 6 tbsp half and half and microwave for 1 minute. 
  2. Fill rest of mug with seltzer. 

Cold variation
  • Mix 4 tbsp toffee syrup with 6 tbsp cool half and half, whisking together with a fork. Pour in cold seltzer while still whisking with the fork. 
* If you want a crisp white foam on top, wait to add the toffee until the end. Stir slowly as to not break up the bubbles. 

Celtic Apple Crisp with Honey Whiskey Whipped Cream

This is a recipe that is perfect for both St. Patrick's day and the fall. Especially with apple picking going on. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of baking and am always looking for short cuts when it comes to the holidays and having to bake pies. Shocker, I know. While I love cooking, I don't relish spending half my day in the kitchen. So, this recipe is perfect for those like me who want to make a delicious dish or dessert without spending the day slaving away in the kitchen.

I love this recipe and it will be one I will make at least once a year. It was easy to make, I had just about all the ingredients on hand, and it tasted amazing. While I thought it was perfect, the Mister, who is a fan of whiskey, thought it could use more whiskey. Ha! Me, I'm not a fan of whiskey so the small hint of whiskey in this was just right for me. So, I split the whipped cream up and added a touch more whiskey to his batch.

recipe adapted from Home and Plate

  • 4 large honeycrisp apples, peeled and sliced into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 1-inch cubes.  Place the apples, cinnamon, whiskey and water in a bowl and toss. Then place the apples into a prepared pie pan. 
  2. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, oats and melted butter and mix until crumbly and well blended.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apples.
  3. Place the pan in a preheated 350° oven and bake for 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  
  4. Whip the heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Dissolve the honey in the whiskey stirring to incorporate. Add the honey flavored whiskey to the whipped cream in the final minutes of whipping. 
  5. Once the apple crisp has cooled serve it with the whipped cream.

Hawaiian Sloppy Joes

I love sloppy joes. It's one of my childhood favorites that has become a staple in this house as an adult. They are so easy to make, you can customize them with ingredients you like, and you can tweak the sauce to get a completely different tasting dish every time. Plus, they pair really well with tater tots or cauliflower tots.

One of my go-to dishes is my unsloppy joes. I've been making them for years and I love them, but I wanted to try something a little different. When I came across these Hawaiian sloppy joes, I knew I had found a winner.  I loved the sweetness that the pineapple adds to the sauce. I couldn't find any fresh pineapple at my grocery store so I bought a can of sliced pineapple instead. I will go ahead and say that fresh is definitely better in this but canned works in a pinch. It's not that the canned pineapple was bad but I think the fresh would have not only held up it's shape better but given the dish a more pineapple flavor. 
Recipe adapted from Vodka & Biscuits

  • olive oil as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 pack hamburger rolls

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until onions are translucent and peppers are soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms become soft, another 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook an additional minute or two to let the flavors mingle.
  4. Stir in the lentils, pineapple, soy sauce, brown sugar. Mix until incorporated. Add the tomato sauce and vinegar and mix. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving on rolls.

Soyrizo Mushroom Hand Pies

I love empanadas. I used to love when my cousin would make them when I'd come over for a visit. I think that was one of the few things I actually cooked as a teenager. Once I got married and moved away, I continued to make them. However, now that I've given up meat, I haven't been able to find a recipe that I like as much as the original one I used to make as a teen... until now.

One thing I ate before I had even given up meat was soyrizo. I love chorizo with all of it's flavors and spiciness but I have never been a huge fan of sausage, hot dogs, or any other sort of processed meat that leaves you not wanting to question what it's made out of. Soyrizo has all the same flavors as chorizo without any of the gross, questionable ingredients.

These hand pies are super easy to make. All the ingredients are readily available at pretty much all super markets and it's really quick to throw together. The only item that I wasn't sure I'd find was the Cotija cheese. For some reason my grocery story put it over by the ricotta cheese. If you can't find Cotija cheese, you can substitute it with either Parmesan or feta cheese. Cotija tasted like a combination of the two, so either of those should work if you can't find it. You can make the filling ahead of time to shave off half the prep time for these or you can make the hand pies ahead of time and store them in your refrigerator on a baking sheet until you are ready to pop them in the oven. I've done both and they turned out great. These are definitely going into my "keep" pile of recipes.

Recipe adapted from Comowater

  • 1 package Soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms 
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • salt 
  • pepper 
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  •  4 roll out pie crusts 
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1 tsp. milk 

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan and heat over medium heat. Cook soyrizo until slightly crunchy (about 7-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same sauté pan and heat over medium. Add onions. Saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute over medium until onions and mushrooms are soft; about 5 minutes. Add a small pinch of salt and a few grinds black pepper.
  4. Mix the cooled soyrizo with the onion/mushroom mixture and let cool completely before beginning hand pie assembly.
  5. Lightly spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lightly flour counter. Roll out pie dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles of desired size. Add filling to center of dough circle, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch border around the edge of the dough. Wet the edge of the dough slightly with water. Top with second dough round and seal the hand pies closed. Lightly beat egg with milk to create an egg wash. Brush the top of the hand pies with egg wash. Add the hand pies to the cookie sheet. Bake approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!