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,