Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

This entrée is excellent–so flavorful and rich tasting although it uses low-fat ingredients.  You will not notice the lack of fats here, although the final product will be slightly less creamy than traditional mac and cheese.

Instead of making a cheese sauce in the usual way, this recipe uses ricotta cheese and pureed squash to give this familiar dish is creaminess.  I also added a little low-fat sour cream to the squash-cheese mixture to further ensure its creaminess.  For the bread crumb topping, I used seasoned crumbs and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.  A nice mixture that retained its crunch for a contrast to the macaroni.   The addition of nutmeg to the sauce is important as it brings out the sweetness of the squash, and enhances any cream sauce.

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Although this dish is a departure from the standard mac and cheese we enjoyed it.  I served it with ham and a salad for a complete meal.  Any leftovers warmed up nicely in the microwave, with just a drizzle of milk to bring back its creaminess.

MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)IMG_5688
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  1/2 cups non-fat milk
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4  oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp. fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine squash, chicken broth, and milk in a medium saucepan;  bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper.  Stir to combine.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add macaroni; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.  Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

3.  Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4-inches deep) with cooking spray.  Transfer macaroni mixture to dish.  In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, and oil;  sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

4.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 – 40 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Browned and bubbly.  Ready for the table.

Browned and bubbly. Ready for the table.

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SOURCE:  Martha Stewart Living

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Autumn Pot Roast

This is one of my all-time favorite ways to cook pot roast.  I use my slow-cooker and start it in the morning.  When the weather is chilly, I am comforted by the aroma coming from my kitchen, especially if I have been out all day.   A home cooked meal without a lot of fuss.

Autumn Pot Roast

Autumn Pot Roast

AUTUMN POT ROAST

Yield:   Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 pounds)IMG_5583
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch  pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can (14.5oz.) reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine or additional reduced-sodium beef broth

Directions:

1.  Sprinkle roast with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.   In a large skillet heat olive oil.  Add beef and brown well on all sides. Remove from skillet to a platter.

2.  In same skillet, add onions, and other vegetables.  Sauté lightly just to get them browned.  Transfer to the bottom of the slow cooker.  In the same skillet, pour in about 1/2 cup beef broth.  Heat and scrape up any browned bits from the pan.  Pour into the slow cooker.

3.  Place meat on top of vegetables.   Combine remaining beef broth with the red wine, dried thyme, bay leaf, minced garlic and remaining salt and pepper.  Pour over meat and vegetables.

4.  Cover and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Skim off fat.  Discard bay leaves.  If desired, thicken cooking juices, or serve along side meat and vegetables as “au jus”.

Mashed potatoes served with this meal make this about the most comforting “comfort” food that I know of.  The meat will be falling-apart tender, and the vegetables are tender with a deep rich flavor from the beef broth and wine jus.

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SOURCE:    TASTE OF HOME