Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

A few weeks ago, I found a butternut squash in my fridge. You’re probably wondering how one buys a squash and then forgets that it exists. Well… butternut squash keep basically forever in the fridge and it was waaaaaay in the back. So, yeah. I bought it god knows when and forgot about it. Of course, when I found it, I had to use it immediately since I didn’t know how old it was. I wasn’t sure, at first, what I was going to make, but then the crazy pregnancy brain kicked in and butternut squash mac and cheese was born.

I know (after googling it last night) that there a ton of recipes for butternut squash mac and cheese out there, but I didn’t use any of those. I made up my own recipe, which I’ll replicate as much as possible here.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1.  8 0z whole wheat shells

2. 1 cup fat free milk

3. 1 small-ish butternut squash (roasted)

4. 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

5. 1/4-1/2 cup shredded parmasean cheese

6.1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

7. 1/4 tsp dry mustard

8. 1 spring fresh rosemary (about 3-4 inches long)

9. 1/4 tsp Italian spice mix

10. salt and pepper to taste

11. bread crumbs

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F

2. Peel, seed, and chop squash.

3. Toss squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. place squash on sheet pan and roast in oven for about 20 minutes (until its tender).

While the squash is roasting, start on the cheese sauce and pasta…

5. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

6. Heat the milk and spices until it simmers (keep an eye on it.. don’t scald the milk!)

7. Remove milk and spice mixture from heat.

8. Add all the cheeses into the milk/spice mix and stir until melted.

9. Add the roasted squash to the milk/spice/cheese mix and stir until combined (try to squish the squash a little).

10. Mix the pasta into the squash/sauce mix

11. Pour the mix into a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs.

12. Bake at 375F until breadcrumbs are brown and cheese sauce is slightly bubbly.

I know this is my own creation and I’m probably a little biased, but this was really good. As proof that it not just pregnancy appetite  and/or bias talking, S. thought it was good too. This wasn’t the quickest dish ever, but it wasn’t that time consuming either. I estimate maybe 40 minutes start to finish, so it’s a pretty doable  weeknight meal (with a nice side salad).

Enjoy!

Black Bean Quesadillas

So remember how I’ve been craving black beans? Well that hasn’t changed at all and, luckily, they’re healthy and pretty much every recipe I use them in is fast.

Yesterday, I spent some quality time on pinterest and discovered a new recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas. This recipe is super easy and very fast, two things I needed yesterday. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but there are times when I go from not at all remotely hungry to oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die-of starvation-if-I-don’t-eat-immediately in a matter of minutes. Pregnancy has made this worse and yesterday around lunch time I hit that critical point more quickly than normal. So, I was pretty stoked that I had all the ingredients for the recipe on hand. Of course, there was a bit of hanger induced yelling when I put everything into my food processor only to discover that my food processor is, apparently, broken. No big deal in the long run though. I just mixed everything together and had a chunky filling instead of a smooth one. Still delicious. 

This is, unfortunately, one of those times when I was so hungry that I didn’t think to take a picture of the finished product. So, you guys don’t get to see that it was actually very pretty and colorful. Probably because of the un-food processed filling and guacamole topping. I know just my word with no supporting pictures isn’t the best advertisement ever, but you should seriously try this when you need something fast, healthy, and delicious. 

On a completely unrelated note, if anyone reading this is wondering what to get me for Christmas a new food processor wouldn’t be unappreciated…

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love baking in the fall. Especially cookies. Especially cookies that taste like fall. That’s why when I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies on pinterest, I knew I had to try it.

 

I made these on Saturday night and I have to say they taste absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe from skinnytaste.com exactly, so just pop over there and give it a try. Oops. Just kidding. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I don’t own a silicone baking liner thingy, so I used parchment paper instead. But other than that, I completely followed it.

Now that I have made the recipe as written once, I think I’ll make it again soon and make some alterations. I’m not sure what alterations yet; maybe more pumpkin and less butter? See, the cookies came out a bit too chewy for my taste. I mean, that didn’t stop me from eating a TON of them, but I prefer my cookies as bit less… cake-y.

 

Any suggestions?

Black Bean Taco Bake

Remember yesterday when I said I would be posting a lot of the recipes I mentioned? Yeah. This isn’t one of those.

Monday night I really wanted something cheesy with black beans (imagine that), so I made up this black bean taco bake. It really hit the spot and was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself, so I decided to share. I’m going to get to the recipe, but before you get started you should make sure that you have some taco seasoning on hand or, if you don’t, make your own. Personally, I don’t buy taco seasoning since I found Alton Brown’s Taco Seasoning Recipe. It’s a great mix, but I’ve been making my own recipe using his as a base for a few months now. Here’s my recipe:

Martha’s Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch, but I never seem to have any)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Put all the ingredients into a jar ow bowl with a lid and shake it all up.
Et viola! Taco seasoning.

Now that you definitely have taco seasoning, here’s the recipe for the taco bake:

Black Bean Taco Bake

Ingredients

1 can black beans
2 bell peppers (I had one green and one red)
1/2 large red onion (or 1 small red onion)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salsa (whatever kind you want)
3-4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
tortilla shells
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or however much you want)

Accoutrements

Avocado or guacamole
green onions
tomato (fresh)
lettuce
salsa
lime

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Put large skillet with olive oil on medium heat
  3. Dice the peppers, onion, and garlic
  4. Add peppers, onion, and garlic
  5. While the peppers, onion, and garlic are sauteing, prep your accoutrements (i.e. chop the green onions and tomato)
  6. After the peppers and onions have a bit of color on them, add the black beans and salsa and cook for a minute or two
  7. Add the taco seasoning (I did 4 tablespoons, but 3 might be good for you)
  8. Give the mix a good stir and let it cook for about 1 minute
  9. Add the water and deglaze the pan a bit (get the caramelized bits of peppers and seasoning from the bottom)
  10. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the water is mostly gone (you want a wet but not soupy consistency)
  11. While that’s cooking, get out a 9X13 baking dish (no need to oil it)
  12. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, taco seasoning mix to the baking dish and top with cheese.
  13. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.
  14. If you like your tortilla shells warm, use this 10-15 minutes to do that
  15. Remove baking dish, use the cheesy mixture as filling for your taco shells, and dress using whatever accoutrements you like

I should mention that you can add whatever you want into the peppers, onion, garlic base. I really wanted some corn in there, but didn’t have any on hand. I served these with a guacamole/salsa dip (just gauc and salsa mixed together) and fried up some ham with taco seasoning for S.’s tacos (sounds weird, but he said it was pretty good). If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

Enjoy!

Perfect Late-Summer Brunch

I don’t know about you, but I love a good brunch. Breakfast food is pretty much my favorite food, so any meal that allows me to eat breakfast or a breakfast-ish meal is my favorite. Last week, when we were in the midst of a glorious three day weekend, seemed like a great time to make some brunch. So, of course, I turned to my pinterest boards for inspiration. (Do you follow me on pinterest? You should.)

After much pinteresting, and because I had an abundance of green beans ( not my favorite) and basil ( my favorite), I decided to make green beans with pesto topped with a poached egg. Now, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. It sounds lovely and I’m actually going to try it later today, but I didn’t have the necessary ingredients (like parsley). Here’s my version:

Green Beans with Pesto & Poached Egg

Ingredients:

Green Beans (duh): about 1/2 pound

Basil: about a cup

Olive Oil

Pine Nuts: about a 1/4 cup

Parmesan: to taste (about a 1/3 cup for me)

1 clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs

Method:

1. Trim the green beans (and string them if necessary)

2. Put about a half inch of water (with salt!) and about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a large skillet and bring to a boil.

3. Bring large pot of water (with salt!) and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to a boil.

4. For the pesto: Add basil, pamesan, garlic, and pine nuts to food processor. Pulse a couple of times until a little paste-y. Add olive oil until the pesto starts to pull away from the sides. Note: I didn’t have any lemons, but a bit of lemon juice would be fabulous.

5. Add the green beans to the boil water in the large skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes (you want them to be crisp-tender), pull out, and shock with some cold water. (Shocking is usually done my dunking them in ice water; I was lazy so I just used really cold water).

6. Poach the eggs. (There’s lots of advice for poaching eggs. Here’s mine: Wait until the water has just started boiling (not a rolling boil), crack the eggs into a ramekin or small bowl, hold the ramekin just above the water and slowly drop the egg in.)

7. While the eggs are poaching (that should take 2-3 minutes), mix the green beans and pesto and plate that.

8. Put the eggs on top of the green bean/pesto mixture. Sprinkle a bit of parm on top.

9. Enjoy!

I should also mention that I served this with a bit of crusty garlic bread and a ham steak (for S.) and it was delicious. In fact, our only complaint was that we didn’t have enough for seconds!

UPDATE: Thanks to Tammy for reminding me that I took a picture of this meal! Pregnancy brain is real, folks. And sometimes it makes you forget that you meant to include the crappy iphone picture you took of a delicious meal in your blog post.

Homemade tomato sauce

If you’ve been following me on twitter today, you know that I’m officially on vacation!! Of course, this is roughly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.* But, like all things, there is a downside. This week my CSA share, which is normally shared with R., is all mine. And it’s full of tomatoes and corn and peppers and tons of other things that we can’t possibly eat all of before  our trip.

*Note to the future offspring: that was hyperbole.

So, to use up a large chunk of the tomatoes, which, incidentally have been fabulous this year, I made fresh tomato sauce. I used a recipe that was included with the CSA this week. It’s really simple: Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Basil.  I added some balsamic vinegar and food processed it all until smooth.  After the sauce is complete, just add to some hot pasta and top with some Parmesan.

Lunch today. I also added a tofurkey Italian sausage.

This is basically a perfect summer meal, light, fast, and full of the taste of summer. Fabulous!

Winter is coming!

This has been the summer that never ends.I know it’s only August, but I feel like summer started in March and has been going strong since. I’m not summer’s biggest fan, a fact that I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, and, to tell you the truth, I’ve been feeling disheartened because I had become convinced that summer was actually never going to end.

Then, this morning I woke up, got ready to walk the bear dogs, and checked the temperature. It was 55 degrees. Yes. That’s Fahrenheit. I can’t tell you how much more energized that made me feel.  There’s a light at the end of this never-ending summer. I celebrated with a longer than normal dog walk and my favorite fall/winter breakfast.

The Bear Dogs preparing to bolt after a squirrel

You might remember that I made crock pot steel cut oatmeal once last winter. It was ugly, but delicious and definitely something I recommend when you want to wake up to breakfast. Since then I’ve been sparing myself the horribleness of cleaning cooked on oats out of a crock pot and just making it on the stove top. It’s just a delicious, a lot less ugly, and pretty easy. Here’s the method:

1. Round up your ingredients. I use soy milk, steel cut oats (obviously), craisins, walnuts, and apple pie spice.

2. Follow the directions on your steel cut oats for time and ratio of milk to oats. I always add the craisins in while the milk is boiling so that they get all plump and juicy. I also add a couple of sprinkles (maybe a 1/4 tsp) of apple pie spice at this stage.

3. After about 20 minutes, it’s done! Just dole it out into bowls, add some walnuts (or whatever nuts you have), a drizzle of honey, and enjoy!

All in all, this has been the perfect fall preview morning. Hope yours was too!