Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Fun and Squash Mac & Cheese

We checked out an amazing pumpkin patch over the weekend. It’s very popular and getting there bright and early paid off. By the time we left around noon, it was already a bit too busy for my taste… Here are a few photos of some of our fun.

If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks, you’ll know Gina’s Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese has been on my “list” for a while now. I finally got around to making it, and it was really good!!!

Unfortunately, I was also once again reminded that following a recipe is a real struggle for me... Luckily the changes I made worked out. In fact, the recipe is ideal to play around with and can be adjusted and changed in many different ways.

I started out with a butternut squash from Trader Joe’s that came with a nice little sticker as to how to bake the squash in the oven, so that’s what I did [Note: That’s NOT what the original recipe says, and I ended up having to adjust things later on, but it worked...]

I basically followed the instructions on the sticker, but my squash was not done at all after 40 minutes. It took close to an hour for it to get soft. I cooked the squash while doing some work; it’s an easy, “no supervision necessary” way to cook squash.

Once the squash was done, I peeled it and cut it into cubes. I then added about one cup milk and one cup vegetable stock and pureed it in my food processor. [Note: I had a little “accident” while trying to puree it, and a lot of liquid escaped. I’m therefore not exactly sure how much liquid I ended up using.]
After pureeing it, I realized that my mixture wasn’t hot, so the cheese wouldn’t have a chance to melt. So I poured the mixture into a saucepan and heated it and seasoned it with some salt and pepper.
Next, I added 1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss & Gruyere, 1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast as well as 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Finally, I added 1 pound cooked brown rice penne and had a taste. 

It was delicious, and I probably would serve it most times just as is. But for my first time, I wanted to sort of follow the original recipe! Smile

Since I made the dish up to this point earlier in the day, I poured the mixture into a casserole dish and put it in the fridge and finished it at night.

At night, I preheated my oven to 375 degrees. In the meantime, I sprayed a sauté pan with some olive oil, browned 1/2 cup panko crumbs before adding them to the casserole dish, and baked the dish in the oven for 35 minutes.

Everyone really enjoyed the dish, and I’m glad that the toddler liked it. He loves mac & cheese, and I’m always looking for healthy versions. I think I’ll experiment soon with different veggies and cheese mixtures. Also, I probably wouldn’t use brown rice pasta again as it did get a bit soggy. I think whole wheat pasta (which Gina used) would probably work a lot better (especially if you decide not to bake it right away). Thanks Gina for a very tasty dinner!

Questions: Do you like mac & cheese? Have you ever added veggies to it? If so, how did you like it? What’s your favorite mac & cheese recipe? Feel free to link in the comments!

Be well,


  1. I've been seeing a few recipes like this with squash mixed into the mac 'n' cheese. Love that idea. Plus, I just love squash to begin with. ;)

  2. I love mac-n-cheese. A bit too much which is why I never make it! ;-)

  3. That are a lot of pumpkins, looks like a great day.

    I like mac & cheese the old fashioned way with no veggies add to the dish.

  4. I'm so glad everyone liked it!! This was definitely a favorite at our house (especially because I rarely make suc a rich meal). Nick was actually sad that he couldn't taste more of the butternut squash, HA! I was surprised to hear that.
    I'm glad you had a nice weekend, Andrea :) Enjoy your week!

  5. Hi Andrea!

    Ah, I miss going to parks and pumpkin patches with kids that are little. We still do some of these things with the teens, but they are more snarky now and less wide-eyed.

    I really do love those squash stickers with cooking instructions. Some grocery genius realized that people like me don't know what to do with different kinds of squash.

    :-) Marion

  6. Anonymous10/11/2011

    I never had Mac and cheese, I guess it's an American tradition. but this version looks very good to Mel I love all the ingredients! :)

  7. Love the pic of the toddler running through the cornstalks!!!

    And yes, I puffy heart mac and cheese!!!

  8. Seems as though the not following the recipe worked out. Love your photos (we need punpkins!) We're not a mac and cheese family as I'm GF and one son doesn't like cheese (a whole other hard to fathom topic). I do have a butternut squash on my counter, thanks for the instructions.

  9. I love the pumpkin patch! Wagon rides are the best. I've made mac & cheese with pureed cauliflower before. B-nut squash would be awesome, too!

  10. That looks like a fun dish! I am not a big fan of mac & cheese but the rest of my family is. I have never made it like that recipe.

    Here is a link to an amazing Roasted butternut squash, bacon and pasta dish that we all like.

  11. Anonymous10/12/2011

    That looks so good! I really want to make that.

  12. I love mac n cheese any which way - love it!! I've made cauliflower mac n cheese which is really good, I'll gave to give this one a try!

  13. Ellie Krieger does a similar recipe but I don't think she uses as much squash, so this is probably much healthier and lighter! I'll have to give this recipe a try...I love the different types of cheeses you used.

  14. Hi Andrea. OOOH...I'm loving the pumpkin patch. Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures (and love the one of hubby and toddler in a cow!! :)) Love mac and cheese, and love the idea of adding butternut squash. I'll be copying that for sure. Have a great day.

  15. What a gorgeous pumpkin patch! Looks like so much fun. I could take it or leave it, but I have two boys who are crazy for mac n cheese. I don't buy the boxed stuff so I do make it for them once in awhile. I have some leftover butternut squash I plan to use in it tomorrow night. Yours looks great!

  16. looks like a wonderful time at the pumpkin patch. that and apple picking are on my list of fall fun things to do this season!

    i have made mac anc cheese with sweet potato before, and it was really good!

  17. This looks incredible! I love adding in veggies when I make mac and cheese!
    I am sure the squash added a delicious flavor. Yum!

  18. Looks like you and the kid had so much fun. Your photos bring back my fond memories.