baked pumpkin shells & cheese

by jenna on November 12, 2011

Why hello there!

It’s Saturday again and we are both here. On the Internets. Probably with a cup of Saturday morning coffee or tea in our hands. So let’s make something of it, mmk?

Cheesy, creamy, crunchy, pumpkiny shells and cheese. Shells because I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart reserved for Velveeta. It was the food I always requested when I was a kid and came home sick from school. There’s just something comforting about that creamy neon cheese and the way it so deliciously coats each and every shell in the bowl. I get excited just thinking about it!

Let’s never be too good for Velveeta.

And I know this pumpkin version of macaroni and cheese (cough cough SHELLS and cheese) has totally been done before. I know I’m not doing anything new or inventive in the blogworld by posting this recipe for you today. But, have you ever made it? It’s really good. Mind-blowingly good, actually. And perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime!

If pumpkin isn’t your favorite, you could easily use pureed butternut squash instead. I just happened to have two cans of Libby’s on my kitchen shelf just begging to be used. And while you can’t overtly taste it (you won’t have an estranged uncle going WHAT IS THIS WEIRD PASTA DISH?), it adds a subtle creaminess and spark to a much loved holiday favorite.

Try it! Then report back. The recipe is over atΒ PBS Food today. Enjoy!

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie November 12, 2011 at 5:13 am

Holy-freaking-cow! That looks really good. And I am totally sitting here with my mug of Saturday morning coffee. But my husband is also cooking breakfast:). Hope you have an excellent Saturday!


Savannah @ Sweet and Savvy November 12, 2011 at 5:20 am

What an amazing idea! I never would have imagined something so unique and delicious looking! :)


Emily @ Life on Food November 12, 2011 at 5:23 am

The drippings on the side of the pan are my favorite. This looks absolutely fantastic.


Amanda November 12, 2011 at 5:24 am

For a second, I thought maybe this was another one of your grandmother’s recipes and that you had indeed used velveeta! (they had that back then, right?) I used to LOVE velveeta as a kid, but your version looks just as good, minus the scary chemicals in fake cheese. :)


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 12, 2011 at 5:32 am

I love how it’s bubbled over in the last pic…looks so good. And better you with oven clean up than me :)


Emily @ The Finicky Farmer November 12, 2011 at 5:33 am

Luscious! I can’t wait to try this recipe!


Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day November 12, 2011 at 5:34 am

I love using squash in mac and cheese.. I used to do it all the time for my kids


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes November 12, 2011 at 5:36 am

Anddd that looks soo amazing πŸ˜€


christie November 12, 2011 at 6:05 am

OMG this looks uhhhmazing!!


Linda November 12, 2011 at 6:25 am


What’s up with your book? I thought it was supposed to come out in summer 2011?


jenna November 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

I took longer writing the manuscript than originally planned….just finished and it actually just got named and copyrighted and is coming out in september! woot woot! finally.


Jen November 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

Congrats! Can you tell us the title?! :) (I’m surprised people keep asking you this question, seems like you have to answer it everyday!)


Linda November 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

I didn’t realize oher people were asking it. I do not comment very often nor do I read others comments so I woudn’t have known unless she actualy wrote it in her blog post.


Linda November 12, 2011 at 10:53 am

That’s good Jenna. Congratulations.


Sarah November 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

Wow, that looks amazing. I love it when the top gets golden brown and bubbly. I’ve also never made mac & cheese with shells (aside from consuming lots of Annie’s on camping trips). Looks great!


Bev Weidner November 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

Let’s never be too good for Velveeta. I AGREETA.


But I do!


Jen November 12, 2011 at 6:51 am

You and Jessica from HowSweetEats write very similarly.

Looks great! I guess using squash can cut back on some of the butter used?


Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef November 12, 2011 at 6:59 am

amazing! i’ve made butternut squash mac & cheese, but never a baked version. can’t wait to try it!


Andrea November 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

Quickly! What cheeses are in the grated cheese blend? I have a block of cheddar begging to be used in my fridge, but if this dish is made even more delightful with a combo of asiago and mozzarella…then by golly that is what I will dash to the store and get!


Moni'sMeals November 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

Whoa. Original and creative over here! This looks amazing on so many levels and pumpkin will always work for me. :)


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

haha, I was reading this with a cup of coffee in one hand, the other on the mouse. How’d you know? πŸ˜‰


Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) November 12, 2011 at 8:06 am

Well, if this doesn’t sound amazing on a chilly day, i’m not sure what does?


Pamela November 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

Yum!! Macaroni & Cheese is my favorite food, and adding pumpkin is a great idea! I might even make it this weekend!!


Stephie November 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

I have a very similar recipe (although I used butternut squash) that uses grated apple in it – pretty much blew my mind! Made for the perfect autumn-y goodness (let’s not talk about how quickly I polished off an entire casserole dish of it by myself, ok?)


jenna November 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

grated apple? double yum!


Meghan @ StruggleMuffins November 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

Oh dear. This sounds/looks almost too good to be true. I guess I’ll just HAVE to make it to be sure that isn’t the case.


Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen November 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

Hi! I’m a new reader and this looks aaaaaamazing! I might have to make this RIGHT AWAY. Thanks for posting :)


kathleen @ the daily crumb November 12, 2011 at 9:35 am

really you can’t go wrong with pumpkin and/or cheese. always good to remember the classics!


Molly @ RDexposed November 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

Bahahah, pumpkin spice latte in my hand! You nailed it!


nicole spaz November 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

your blog was suggested to me. Opening up your site and seeing this post… I know it was a good suggestion!


mich November 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

haha have you been reading gomi? i’m guessing that comment about it not being anything new is a reference to that.

ps, try pumpkin mixed with ground up ameretti cookies in savory dishes like this. so good.


Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count November 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

That sounds wonderful, I’ll have to go check out the recipe!


Katrina November 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

This sounds lovely! Great fall meal.


Char @ November 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I loooove pumpkin mac & cheese!! (I make mine dairy-free, though.) I’m pretty sure I’ve made some every week for the past few months now πŸ˜› so addicting


Sue November 13, 2011 at 8:28 am

I went to a friend Thanksgiving last night and decided to bring this–despite the fact I had already gone to the grocery store to buy all the needed ingrediants for a favorite appetizer. I heard this multiple times during dinner: “Who made the mac & cheese? It’s amazing!” and “I totally need this recipe.” (And my artichoke dip dish was cleaned out by the end of the night too.) Yay, me! Thanks Jenna for helping me pretend I have talent in the kitchen!!


jenna November 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

so glad you guys liked it!


Jessica @ the Learning Curve November 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

Thank God I’m not the only food blogger who still loves Velveeta. :)


Aylin @ Glow Kitchen November 13, 2011 at 11:15 am

I would eat that all in one sitting. Shamelessly.


HRCK November 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm

What a great idea! I can’t wait to make this very orange recipe! :) And shells were always my favorite kind of pasta in mac & cheese, so this perfect.


nicole November 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm

This sounds ridiculously amazing; i will be making it this week for sure. Any specific cheese you recommend in the “cheese blend?” Was thinking gruyere and cheddar…maybe fontina…


karla November 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm

made this for dinner tonight…so amazing! i had to tweak it a bit due to a lack of bread crumbs…but crumbled potato chips make a great topping substitution. thanks for sharing!


Jamie November 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I made this recipe for dinner tonight. It is sooooooo good. I added in garlic, crushed walnuts, and fresh thyme to the bread crumbs. I also used earth balance, plain almond milk, and whole wheat flour for the sauce. Turned out perfectly. My boyfriend and I both went back for thirds!


jenna November 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

great substitutions! i’ll have to try that!


Patty November 14, 2011 at 3:40 am

I made this last night and added 1/2 a cup of marcapone to it. Delish!!! My roommates refuse to share with anyone else. HA.


Nicole @ Giraffelegs November 14, 2011 at 6:18 am

I HAVE to try this!


Erica @ In and Around Town November 14, 2011 at 8:10 am

WOW! Everything about this dish looks delicious – I seriously and craving this dish now!


Rachael @ FreshlyMinted November 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Oh, Shells and Cheese memories!

…on of the few dishes (besides fried eggs, oatmeal & custard pie) that my dad specialized in :)


Kate November 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Wow! That’s dinner tonight :)


Bree November 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

I cannot wait to try this–looks amazing!


Tracie November 17, 2011 at 7:13 am

This is amazing, Jenna! My entire family was thrilled with it, and that’s saying a lot for my picky family. I’ll definitely make it again! Thank you!!


jenna November 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

So happy to hear it, Tracie!! Thanks!


LynnB November 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I made this tonight. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be “odd”…oh no, it’s amazing. I ate it all before I even cut into the chicken next to it. I also managed to pour it into a 9×9 dish and realized I had leftovers so I put it in two ramekins. Delicious and adorable.


Dana January 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Made this past Thankgiving! It was such a hit with the fam! Hoping to make it again and soon! Loved it!!


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