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Posts tagged as “butternut squash”

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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Crisp fall nights call for baking. Lots of baking. Cookies and cakes are obvious go-tos anytime I choose to bake something sweet. When it comes to savory dishes, though, the first thing that always comes to mind is pasta. There's just something so nice and comforting about taking a big tray of baked, bubbling, cheesy pasta out of the oven. It's instant happiness and a whole meal without putting in a lot of effort. Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll serve a big tray of pasta with a side dish, like a green vegetable or a salad. It can help to feel a little bit better about eating all of that cheesy goodness, even if I know, deep down, that it doesn't make a damn difference. When it comes to naming a so-called king of baked pastas, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in my house who disagrees with the fact that it's macaroni and cheese (baked ziti, a distant second place.) It's one of the most versatile baked pasta dishes that I can make and everyone loves it. I'm always trying new recipes, too -- adding spinach or other vegetables, bacon, or simply just loading up on different kinds of cheese because more cheese, more better. The best part is that even when a recipe doesn't come out quite as I planned, even bad mac and cheese is good. This is how, on a whim a few years ago, I ended up with this memorable, very orange -- and, dare I say, sort-of healthy -- mac.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Puree

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By this time in the Fall, butternut squash and carrots tend to be "surplus" items in my pantry. They are two of my favorite root vegetables that I love to dice up to add to a vegetable soup, roast with herbs and olive oil for a side dish, or puree after roasting to create a versatile base that can be transformed into several dishes. When packaged in smaller containers or zip-top bags, this butternut-carrot puree can be thawed a little at a time to use as a quick sauce, soup, or side dish. The portions are flexible, so it's perfect to use up whatever you have on hand. Here are three quick ways to use butternut squash and carrot puree: As a healthier side dish alternative to mashed potatoes: Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream into 1 cup puree. Serves 2. As a quick sauce for pasta: Combine 1 cup puree, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1/2 cup light cream in a saucepan. Heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with 2 cups cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4. As a vegetarian or vegan soup: Combine 2 cups puree with 3 cups vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat through and finish with 1/4 cup heavy cream. Serve topped with a drizzle of a flavored oil or sour cream, chives, and roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds. Serves 3-4. Omit any suggested dairy to make a vegan soup.