Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

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Happy Valentine's Day!

After a brief hiatus while I was off getting eye surgery, I'm back! The upside to eye surgery (besides the seeing without contact lenses part, which is amazing) is that I think I may have even lost a few pounds! I was so sensitive to light after the surgery (as in I wore my sunglasses at night a la Corey Hart...except if Corey Hart wore them inside with all the lights off and blinds drawn, and the sunglasses were blublockers) that looking into the bright refrigerator was almost impossible. Winning!

"...cuz you got it made with the guy in shades, oh no"
I actually did make a couple of recipes while I was off, but accidentally deleted the photos of some (just in case you are wondering, doing this was a similar feeling to typing a really long email, and then accidentally hitting a mystery button on the keyboard that deletes everything you wrote), and didn't take photos of the others. I also made a halibut recipe that was so-so, which made me wonder whether I should be:

a) only posting about stuff that we really liked, or 
b) throwing caution to the wind, posting about everything regardless of how it turns out, and giving honest reviews. 

I will have to debate this over the next few days, but I'm leaning towards posting about all of my kitchen misadventures so that I can keep track of what I've made and liked or disliked. I would love to hear what you think!?

Back to the matter at hand...who doesn't love a homemade mac n' cheese? Om nom nom nom. My mom handed me this Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Chatelaine magazine the other day, and it looked great so I wanted to give it a whirl. Butternut squash in combination with pasta seems to be really popular lately at restaurants...the creaminess of the butternut squash really adds to the richness and creaminess of the pasta sauce.

For this recipe, I bought pre-cut packaged butternut squash from Costco so that the meal could be prepared with less fuss. When you are doing the last step of this recipe, which is to broil the top, make sure you are standing beside your oven to monitor that it doesn't burn. I learned this from experience as the top of the pasta turned a little black when I relied on just the oven timer. While a round of expletives was coming out of my mouth like rapid-fire, The Hubby remained calm and noticed that it was just the bread crumbs that had burned, and this was easily scraped off. I also left the butternut squash cubed in error, rather than finely dicing it like the recipe calls for. We liked it this way, but when I make this again I will follow the directions more closely. I served the pasta with a simple side salad, and it was a delicious dinner (plus left-overs for lunch yesterday...yay!). Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

400 grams (about 3 cups) butternut squash, finely diced
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup aged white cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs


Position oven racks in centre and top third of oven. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss squash with oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in centre of oven until tender, stirring halfway through, 16 - 18 minutes. Remove to a rack. Preheat broiler to 500F. 

Cook macaroni according to package direction, but omitting salt, until al dentre, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain. 

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour (mixture will be very dry and lumpy). Gradually whisk in milk, Dijon mustard, salt, and cayenne. Stir until mixture comes to a boil, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in pasta, cheese, and squash until just coated (do not melt cheese). Transfer to an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish, or 6 individual oven-safe dishes. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the pasta. Broil until top is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Serves: 6 small portions

Extreme Close-Up...WHOAAAAHHH!!

Megan's Review: Yuuuuuuuuuuummmm. Would definitely make this again.
The Hubby's Review: Yuuuuuuuuummm. Would definitely eat this again.

Recipe Source: Chatelaine Magazine

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