Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Creamy Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

 This is a newer go-to homemade mac and cheese recipe. I used to make a much more decadent version with whole milk, cream and lots of cheese (see recipe index) but lately my mom life consists of making food that's healthier and toddler friendly but still yummy. I discovered that I can make this particular recipe healthier by taking out some of the cheese and milk and adding butternut squash puree. And when I'm really feeling crazy, I make it with whole wheat or veggie pasta. But let's not get carried away here.

The Recipe
  • 3/4 lb pasta (any small-sized variety)
  • 3 T Butter
  • 3 T Flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (roast 1/2 butternut squash at 425 degrees, with a little olive oil on top, for about 25 minutes or until fork tender, scoop out flesh and mash or puree)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese or other sharp cheese
  • salt to taste

The Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions, set aside.
  3. Melt butter on low, add flour and keep moving with whisk for about 5 minutes. (This makes a pasty 'roux' that helps thicken the sauce.)
  4. Slowly add milk and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.
  5. Add butternut squash and cheddar (reserving some cheddar for the top). Heat on low, stirring until all the cheese melts.
  6. Stir in pasta.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste (I ended up using quite a bit of salt so make sure to taste).
  8. Pour mixture into a casserole dish and top with the extra cheddar.
  9. If you want to add a crunchy topping, mix a few tablespoons melted butter with breadcrumbs, spoon over the top of the mac and cheese and spread evenly.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

(Toddler approved)

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