The Blog is One year old! What began as an outlet for my grief after losing my mother about a year and a half ago has morphed into a robust documentation of my journey gaining confidence in the kitchen. My mother was my confidant and my cheerleader. We talked every day – particularly on my drive home from work – and she always helped me see my day in a positive light. While nothing can replace that, cooking and writing have certainly become a comfort.
In honor of hitting one full year of blogging I decided to cook up some comfort food. Butternut Mac and Cheese has been calling my name and it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate. When experimenting with a new dish I always begin by reading through as many of my favorite blogs as I can find. (I still would love a better system for reading blogs and saving my favorite recipes… tips?) I meandered my way to The Pioneer Woman, The New York Times, and Pinch of Yum all who had recipes that pureed the squash and incorporated it into the cheese sauce. Delicious, but I really wanted chunks of squash. Eventually I decided to use the first half of this recipe and the second half of this one.
With the hubs out of town for a wedding I had the house to myself so I turned up some music and made an amazing mess out of the kitchen. The flavors in the final dish were RICH and the chunks of butternut squash were what I had hoped. Sweet and warm. That said, I wished the sauce was a bit creamier. You know, when it’s so cheesy that you contemplate getting a spoon…. In the end, the process of cooking tonight was better than the final product, but this is an experiment I will come back to soon.
Heading into year two of the blog I plan to go back and re-make some dishes utilizing my ‘thoughts for next time,’ do a bit more monthly planning, and continue connecting with and learning from friends near and far. Sending a HUGE thank you for all of the support, tips, and encouragement. Here’s to another successful year!
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 onion – diced (1 cup)
- 8 oz pasta (trivella)
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Cabot!)
- 3/4 cup grated romano cheese
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup light cream
Steps and Notes:
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a wide skillet and add the squash, onion, marjoram, salt and pepper. Cook until a fork easily pierces the squash – about 15 minutes.
- Note: I’d suggest covering it if you can for part of this time to help soften the squash
- Bring water to a boil and add the pasta. Remove 1 cup of squash from the saute pan and add it into the pasta water with the pasta to boil. Cook the pasta to al delta according to the package.
- Note: I removed the squash from the saute pan about halfway through step 2.
- Once the pasta is done, remove the squash into a glass bowl and add a splash of the pasta water. Blend with an immersion blender. Set aside until step 7.
- Drain the pasta and place into a mixing bowl with the cooked squash chunks and onion mixture.
- Make a roux by melting butter in the skillet and then adding the flour. Cook this on low for about 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Then, whisk in the cream. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes until it thickens a bit more.
- Note: I did add a bit of salt at this point
- Add the cheese in small handfuls and whisk until melted. Add the blended squash to this cheese mixture as well.
- Pour into the mixing bowl to cover the pasta and mix well. Then, pour into a baking dish.
- Cook at 375 for 20 minutes.
- Once removed from the oven stir again and then serve!
Thoughts for Next Time:
- Most recipes called for a panko crust topping but I decided to forgot that tonight. Next time I’ll try it.
- Find a way to add more milk/cream to create a creamier cheese sauce – perhaps using 2 cups of milk as noted in a few places rather than 1 cup of cream.
- This dish has me dreaming about other mac and cheese variations. Damn Delicious has this scrumptions broccoli chicken variation. Yes please!