Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

“Autumn is second spring, when every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus

As the weather gets colder the desire for comfort food increases and the longing for the familiar is back. I love sitting on a couch wrapped in my favorite blanket with a bowl of something comforting and a favorite TV show. I’m ready  to say goodbye to anything that reminds me of summer and move on to one of my favorite seasons. Bring on the scarves, booties and oversized sweaters. Bring on the pumpkins, mums and festive fall decorations. It’s apple picking time and I can’t wait to go.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Mac n Cheese, the ultimate comfort food, the pinnacle of all things cheesy. Everyone loves it. It’s classic, it’s delicious and it pleases even the pickiest eater. Using butternut squash is a great way to add flavor, slash the fat and add valuable nutrients to a timeless classic.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Simply make the butternut puree first by cooking small chunks of squash in water and then blend it to create a smooth velvety texture.  It’s important to add the cooking liquid because it contains all the important vitamins lost during boiling.

Wanna take it a step further? Add a generous amount of salt, pepper and fat free half & half and you got yourself a delicious butternut squash soup. Since this recipe only calls for half of the squash I say it’s a fine idea. Of course, you can also roast it and make a delicious salad with walnuts, greens and blue cheese crumbles.

I’m getting myself pretty hungry here.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

You’ll just have to make it for yourself.

Have a fabulous weekend.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese
 
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 lb shell pasta
  • 4 oz yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup 1% milk
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • bacon, cut into small strips, optional
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, brown bacon, if using. Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  2. Drain most of the fat reserving 1 tbsp.
  3. Add butternut squash to a medium sauce pan, cover with just enough water and bring to a boil. Cook about 15-20 minutes until the squash is nice and soft. Transfer to a blender with some of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth adding more cooking liquid if necessary. Add milk and salt to taste and blend to combine.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain.
  5. To the skillet with the reserved bacon fat, add onion, garlic and thyme. Cook until the onion starts to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Stir in cream cheese, pasta, butternut puree and cheddar cheese, reserving about ¼ cup.
  7. Stir to combine, transfer to a baking dish, top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles. Bake under a broiler until the cheese melts about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it or the cheese can burn.

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Eggplant & Pesto Ricotta Lasagna and a $250 Giveaway

Eggplant & Pesto Ricotta Lasagna & $250 Giveaway

Hello my friends.

I feel so relaxed and refreshed. Kurt and I went on a road trip to Baltimore for a little alone time. Our wedding anniversary is this week and we thought it would be great to get away for good eats and a little R&R. The weather was beautiful, the fall has arrived.

Speaking of an anniversary, a few great ladies are having their blogaversaries this week and we are celebrating. Happy blogaversaries to Marcie at Flavor the Moments, Meghan at Spoonful of Flour and Ashley at Wishes and Dishes. To celebrate the wonderful bloggers below put together this awesome giveaway for you.

American Heritage Cooking * Blahnik Baker * Carmel Moments *

Cookie Monster Cooking * Cooking on the Front Burner *

Cooking with Curls * Food Wine Thyme * Inspiration Kitchen *

Life Made Sweeter * Maebells * My Sequined Life *

Pick Fresh Food * Pumpkin ‘N Spice * Scrummy Lane *

Spicy Southern Kitchen * Spoonful of Flavor * The Sweet {Tooth} Life *

Weary Chef * Whole and Heavenly Oven * Yummy Healthy Easy

Eggplant & Pesto Ricotta Lasagna

Be sure to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I also made a hearty cheesy vegetarian lasagna for you. I must admit I absolutely loved the way it turned out. The pesto ricotta is so addicting and adds so much incredible flavor to this lasagna. The meaty eggplant will make you forget that there is no meat here. Perfect dinner for #MeatlessMonday.

Eggplant & Pesto Ricotta Lasagna

Have a great weekend friends. I hope this week is much calmer than last week.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Eggplant & Pesto Lasagna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1½ cup part skim ricotta
  • ¼ cup basil pesto
  • 1 jar store bought organic good quality marinara sauce (I used Bertolli Organic)
  • 1 package lasagna pasta noodles
  • 1¼ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Preheat a griddle or a stove top grill pan. Coat eggplant slices with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill a few minutes on each side, until eggplant begins to soften. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. The heat will continue cooking the eggplant and help it get softer.
  3. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain then lay each noodle flat on parchment paper to prevent from sticking.
  4. While pasta cooks, make pesto and mix it with ricotta cheese. Set aside.
  5. To arrange lasagna:
  6. Spread a little marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish to prevent noodles from sticking.
  7. Lay a layer a noodles overlapping edges just a bit. Next arrange a few eggplant slices over the noodles. Top with ⅓ cup of pesto ricotta mixture, about ¼ cup of marinara sauce and sprinkle with a 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese.
  8. Repeat creating 4 more layers.
  9. Generously top with the rest of the shredded mozzarella and cover with aluminum foil.
  10. Bake until the cheese bubbles, about 35-40 min.
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Baked French Fries with Roasted Garlic Butter

Life is short, time is fast, no replay, no rewind, so enjoy every moment as it comes. SONY DSC

Driving home a few nights ago my 6 1/2 year old said “Mommy you know what stinks about summer? It comes and ends so quick. And that is not cool.” Spoken like a true summer lover. We talked about all the beauty that comes with the rest of the seasons and how she must learn to appreciate what each season brings. I am a summer lover myself and no matter how much I might love the beauty of fall and the holidays in winter and the onset of warmth in spring, nothing beats summer. We make the best memories in the summer and I can never get enough of the wonderful fun filled weekends we spent during those months.

Talking to Briana about all this made me think that life is too short and we can never rewind, even for a moment. There are days at work that I wish the day would fly by so I can go home and be with my family but then all I’m doing is rushing life by. Maybe that’s the reason to why Monday’s stink and the weekends go by so fast. Maybe if I simply learn how to slow down things won’t be so hectic and time won’t fly as fast as it does.

SONY DSC

I love potatoes in any form. French fries, hash browns, mashed, sweet, baked, stuffed, if it’s a potato I’ll eat it. What I don’t love is the grease and tons of calories and unhealthy fat that comes along with some of these recipes. So I’m taking matters into my own hands and making fries loaded with flavor not fat. The lemon thyme I grew in my mini container garden, roasted garlic and some  truffle salt turned these fries from plain to plain amazing.

You just have to try these for yourself.

SONY DSC Enjoy!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Baked French Fries with Roasted Garlic Butter
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 4 large baking potatoes, cut into fries
  • olive oil (enough to generously coat the potatoes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tbsp Earth Balance (butter)
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • truffle salt
  • ½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix potatoes with olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and cook about 45-50 min. The fries will be lightly golden.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium low heat melt butter, add thyme and roasted garlic. Using the back of the spatula mush garlic into butter. Turn off the heat. Set aside.
  4. Once the fries are ready, arrange on a serving platter and top with garlic butter. Season with truffle salt and fresh chopped parsley.

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