I am going to come right out and say it. I really really love fall. I love all the spices, I love drinking hot things, I love soup. I love the leaves changing, I love the pumpkin patch, I love windy rainy days. And I love pumpkin.
A week or so ago I challenged myself to something that I knew wouldn’t be very challenging at all. I went with it anyway, because sometimes you have to let yourself cheat. I ate something pumpkin flavored everyday. Sometimes more than once a day, because I’m an overachiever like that. (Bonus points for being an overachiever and a slacker at the same time.) I also cheated by letting myself use canned pumpkin. Mostly because it has better flavor than freshly made pumpkin puree. I don’t know how they do that, but there it is.
Anyhow, every recipe was a success, except for one. Turns out, it’s hard to make a pumpkin coffee at home with only a french press.
Here are all the things I made, in no particular order:
- Cottage pie with Pumpkin gravy
- Pumpkin spice challah french toast (made with a thick pumpkin custard and of course, cream)
- Pumpkin molasses waffles (just add pumpkin and spices to the batter, and sub sugar for molasses)
- Pumpkin curry soup
- Pumpkin mac’n'cheese (I left out the maple syrup and topped it with panko before baking)
I just discovered another way I cheated. I didn’t make a new thing every day. Somedays, we ate leftovers. No big deal. I think tomorrow I will make pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast to make up for it.
Anyhow, you should try an easy challenge like this. It’s guaranteed to be more fun than my current challenge at which I am so far failing miserably (because I haven’t even started), the 200 sit-up challenge.
Cottage Pie with Pumpkin Gravy
1 lb lean ground beef or other ground meat
1 cup frozen peas
2 or 3 carrots, cut in 1/4″ coins
fresh ground nutmeg, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch sweet paprika (optional)
vegetable or chicken stock, about 2 cups
1 cup pumpkin puree
About 3 or so cups of your favorite mashed potatoes for the topping. Depending on your casserole dish you might need more or less. You want it to be about an inch thick. I think I used 3 russet potatoes for my 9″ casserole dish.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Brown meat thoroughly in a shallow saucepan and set aside. Drain on paper towels if it’s greasy at all. In the same pan, add carrots and a pinch of salt, and enough stock to loosen the browned bits from the meat. Add peas. Stir it around for a minute, then add the pumpkin and the rest of the stock. You want it to be about the consistency of a thick soup, because I didn’t add any thickener. It will cook down a bit in the oven. At this point taste for salt and pepper, add paprika if you’re using it, and add nutmeg to taste. I might have added some onion powder or allspice too, I can’t remember
Once the mixture comes to a boil and the carrots have softened a bit, about 5-7 minutes, add the meat back in and let heat again for a minute or so. Pour the whole mixture into your casserole dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Grate a little bit more nutmeg over the top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the mashed potatoes are browning around the edges and the gravy is bubbling out a bit.
This casserole is something I made in the morning and then had my husband pop in the oven in the afternoon while I was out, so I know that will work too if you need it to. I would say you could make it a day ahead if you wanted.