Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Everyone who cooks with avocado understands the plight of trying to guess the perfect ripeness. You can buy them at almost-perfection and hope for the best, or go from green and wait for the day when they feel just right. More often than not, I overshoot and wait too long, leaving me with a bowlful of just-past-prime avocados that need eating ASAP.

Naturally as someone who consumes way too many cookies, whenever something needs to get used up, I get baking right away. This time, I subbed out all butter in a pretty standard chocolate chip cookie recipe with avocado. If you’re going for vegan cookies, you can use your favourite no-dairy brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I tried two versions: one rolled in sugar before baking, and one without. I do not recommend rolling these in sugar, as they get super sticky (and not in that nice gooey cookie kind of way).

As noted below, these are best enjoyed in the first day or two of making them. I didn’t experiment with freezing, but I’m not sure they would fare well due to the avocado’s potential to go brown or go off.

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Sidenote: For people who read regularly, I haven’t posted since late March (oops), so you can expect more regular posts to come back.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup avocado, mashed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mash together the avocado, sugar, and honey. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

Stir the dry mix into the avocado mixture until a sticky dough is formed. Fold in the chocolate chips (don’t be shy). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and create 1-inch balls — this will create about 24 cookies total.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until just done – you don’t want them to be too golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack. Enjoy!*

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*These are best enjoyed in the first two days of baking, but will stay good for up to 4 days.

Fruit Loop Donuts

Cereal as a decoration on desserts is pretty great.

I got mixed reactions on these ones since they’re a little off the beat and path, but I like them. These are best made day-of to ensure the freshness and crunchiness of your cereal (“fresh” being a relative term here), but they still tasted good the next day. I was transporting these on public transit and ended up using large seal-tight bags to carry them…I didn’t look stylish. But they got from point A to point B in one piece, so that’s all I need to worry about.

I experimented with different icing colours, and tried a few with just sprinkles instead. I found for cereal, I needed to make my glaze almost icing-thick to get it to stick without falling off. You really have to let them dry too so they don’t smudge/fall apart, which means keeping a wooden spoon handy for people who want to compromise wait time.

The donuts themselves are super easy—no yeast is involved but they still retain a bit of bounce. The only piece of special equipment you may need for this recipe is a frying thermometer because it really helps maintain your oil levels and heat; if you don’t have one, just be sure that your oil is at deep frying temperature before dropping your dough in. You can always test this by dropping in the holes on the donuts to see how they react. Make sure to lift out with a slotted spoon to avoid dripping hot oil everywhere!

PS – This post isn’t sponsored, I just think Fruit Loops are fun.

Fruit Loop Donuts

 

Ingredients

  • 3/8 cup milk with 2 tsp. white vinegar added (OR buttermilk, vinegar omitted)
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla and continue stirring until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the mixture alternating with the milk/vinegar mix to form a moist but firm dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky to the touch otherwise you won’t be able to roll it out.

Roll out half of your dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a wide-mouthed drinking glass, cut the dough into as many circles as you can; to make your life easier, you should lightly flour the glass to avoid sticking. Then, cut out the middle of your soon-to-be donut with the large end of an icing tip. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling your scraps until it is all cut into donuts. Let donuts stand while your oil heats.

Fruit Loop Donuts

In the meantime, heat your oil using a deep frying thermometer until it hits the “deep fry” appropriate heat—around 370 degrees F. Place 5-6 donuts in pan at a time, frying and turning once until each side is golden brown and the donut is cooked all the way through.

Fruit Loop Donuts

Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cool entirely and make your glaze!

For the glaze, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl. Ta-da! Add any desired food colouring and dip your donuts halfway to get a nice glaze. It should be thick enough to hold on some cereal. Generously sprinkle Fruit Loops on top and serve immediately!

Creamy Chickpea Salad

For anyone who lives in Toronto, you know this winter has been insanely mild. While it’s a bit odd walking around in flats in early March, it also means that I get to bust out all of my warm weather recipes a little bit early this year. Yes, I know it snows in April every year. I’m going to pretend like it doesn’t and move on.

I adapted this recipe from Oh She Glows, and could make it again any day. This is a super easy salad that can be tossed into a sammie or wrap when heading out the door (bring a napkin, just in case) and it’s easily adaptable to what you have in your cupboards and fridge. This recipe was originally made vegan, but since I eat eggs I opted for regular mayo. Another key difference between our recipes is that she smashed her chickpeas at the beginning, and I left mine whole. I think next time I would try smashing them to see the difference in texture, but leaving them whole if you’re in more of a rush.

This is definitely more of a summer-leaning salad, but I made it in mid-February in Canada and it got devoured on the spot. I like to let any dressing with garlic sit so that the flavours can really develop, so once you’re done throwing everything together leave it for about half an hour—it will make it next-level. Ever had day-old soup and think it tastes better than the first day? That’s why.

The Vegetarian Ginger

Sidenote: When I say lemon juice, I will never mean that weird stuff that comes in a plastic lemon that you squeeze out. I mean lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 dill pickle, minced
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. tahini
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp. hot mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. pickle juice
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • A liberal sprinkle of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Method

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients from chickpeas down to dill pickle. Season the mix lightly with salt.

Next, add in everything from mayo to cumin, then stir until all of the sauces and spices are well mixed. Place your salad in a neutral spot in the kitchen and cover with a tea towel for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately or save in the fridge for a few days. I loved eating this in wrap form, but it’s also filling on its own.

The Vegetarian Ginger

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a newfound glory in my life. Neither of my parents will eat them because they grew up hating them so much, so I’d never really tried them until a year ago when I tried roasting the individual petals and burnt them all (not a great introduction, but it was my fault, not the vegetable’s fault). When I saw them at St. Lawrence market a few weeks ago, I was bent on trying them again—roast anything tossed in balsamic and it will taste amazing. Right?

This has become a go-to weekend snack for my boyfriend and I. We toss these in the oven while we do chores or watch TV, then just put them in the middle of a table with a spoon and go to town. Last time, we made a savoury chipotle dipping sauce to go with it which was a nice smoky touch. It’s not necessary but it was definitely a good complement.

Besides the fact that these are a great snack/side dish/warm salad, they’re also really good for you. They’re equipped with potassium, vitamin C, B-6, and carry a decent amount of iron and protein as well.

The Vegetarian Ginger

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Generous sprinkling of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rid your brussels sprouts of any yellowing leaves and trim the bottoms. Then cut your sprout top-to-bottom to half them. You may have a few extra petals from the sprouts floating around; that’s fine, just toss them in with the rest of your halves and roast them.

In a small bowl, mix together oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and minced garlic. Stir together until well combined and pour over the brussels sprouts halves, tossing to coat everything. Lay out coated vegetables on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for around 20-25 minutes, occasionally stirring to avoid burning. Once done, the sprouts should be easily piercable with a knife and tender when bitten into. There shouldn’t be crunch.

Toss roasted brussels sprouts in balsamic and serve immediately alongside a smoky chipotle dipping sauce, or on their own as a salad or side dish. I would tell you how long they last in the fridge, but they’ve never made it that far.

The Vegetarian Ginger

The Vegetarian Ginger

How To Make Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Quiche is one of the ultimate brunch foods. It’s pretty healthy. There’s no shortage of fat (cream and cheese) and I wasn’t very light handed with the salt on this one either. That being said, each slice is packed full of protein and nutrients from the kale, mushrooms and other veg, so I’ll take it. It’s also great if you’re lazy and frugal, which I happen to be a lot of the time.

This quiche takes an hour, right on the dot. Throw in whatever veggies you want, cook them down on the stove for a few minutes, and stick it in the oven. I was doing a fridge clean-out and had some on-the-edge-of-being-bad kale, cream, eggs, onions that had grown tentacles, and a few other mismatched items. I can say in entire honesty that this is one of the best things I have ever cooked in my life. I KNOW it’s a little cheap to use pre-made pie crust, but if you want something quick, easy and guaranteed to turn out, this is your best bet.

I made one of these on the weekend and it was tough to keep leftovers around for lunch, but it makes a great quick-and-easy lunch that you can eat warm or cold and fills you up.

I wanted to base my recipe from a highly-rated source, but most other recipes I saw used way more cheese, meat, veggies I didn’t have, etc. The only thing I would suggest sticking to are ratios and cooking times.

Sidenote: I used whipping cream which is super heavy, but it turned out really, really well. If you want to get a bit heart-healthier, opt for a lighter version and cut out some of the cheese.

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 slice of provolone, cut into the shape of your choice
  • 1 pre-made pie crust shell in a tin

Method

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add in yellow and red onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Stir in kale. Turn up the heat a notch and pour in the white wine. Add in the cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, then lower the heat down again and let the veggies simmer for 5 minutes until most of the liquids have evaporated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and remove the pie shell from the freezer. Beat eggs, cream, nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper together until light and fluffy. Stir in mozzarella, parmesan, and vegetable mixture. Pour the egg mixture into your pie crust—I used a ladle to make sure I didn’t get any spill-over. Fill up your pie shell as much as it will fit, place your provolone slice in the centre, and pop it in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes until the top is lightly golden and bubbly, and a knife can be inserted and pulled out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes, cut into even slices, and serve.

This quiche re-heats amazingly, so you can make it ahead and take it for lunch, or make it the day before a big brunch.

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Easy Vegan Udon Soup with Ginger Miso Broth

Copycat recipe time!

Thug Kitchen has provided me with hours of entertainment and some great meals, and they didn’t let me down on this one. Full disclosure, my boyfriend did most of the cooking on this one, and for once I was the one helping with prep.

Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. I moved a few months ago, and I’ve found that getting used to my new kitchen has been tougher than expected. There’s always something missing, or there’s (literally) a fire starting somewhere. I tried baking cookies the other night and they were a few points below par, even to my roommates standards. And they’ll eat anything.

I really enjoyed this soup—I’m a big fan of broth-y clear soups, plus with flu season in full gear, a couple of vegetables don’t hurt. It’s really easy to eat bland, not-great-for-you food for lunches/dinners in the winter when you’re working full time and the day gets away from you. I would say you can do the make-ahead for this a day in advance, but with prep it honestly takes 45 minutes start to finish, which is pretty good.

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup

Ingredients

Makes 2 large portions or 4 smaller portions

Broth:

  • 4 inches fresh ginger, loosely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 carrot, cut into loose chunks
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro

Noodles and Veggies

  • 1 (8oz) wet-sealed package of udon noodles
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups broccoli, but into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp. miso paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup snow peas, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup bean sprouts

Method

To make the broth, place ginger and carrot in a medium pot over medium heat (don’t add oil). Once those have cooked for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, then add the broth and cilantro. Simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package directions. Mine said to cook them in lightly salted boiling water for 30 seconds.

When 15 minutes has massed, pull out all the ginger, garlic, carrot, and cilantro with a slotted spoon.  Add the soy sauce and broccoli, and simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Scoop out 1/2 cup of broth and dissolve the miso paste in it, stirring until the chunks are gone.  Pour that back in to the pot. The heat should stay off from this point onwards. Overheating the miso paste will kill all of its probiotic elements.

To assemble to soup, take a handful of noodles and place them at the bottom of a bowl.  Add a handful of the carrots, snow peas, and green onion.  Ladle the hot broth and broccoli over top and allow to rest for a minute so the flavours have a chance to blend.  Top with more green onion, bean sprouts and cilantro if desired, and add in any condiments you may be craving (sesame oil or Sriracha, anyone?).

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup

That’s it! Super easy and delicious, healthy soup with cheap ingredients ready to go. For an even easier time, cut everything up in advance (only a day or so beforehand, to keep it fresh) and have the broth ready for when you get home.

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup

Nacho Fries (plus a look at the T-Fal Actifry)

I’m generally a healthy person, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t love fried food. It gets out of hand sometimes. I was talking to a coworker of mine the other week about cookies (what else do I talk about), and she brought up that she made shortbread with her grandma—some of the greatest shortbread ever, by the way. Somehow in this conversation, frying the cookies came into question. I’m a monster.

Before I even paired up with T-Fal and Sears Canada to do this post, I was super amped on the T-Fal Actifry. That sentence sounds fake, but I swear to god, people told me about their machines and I wanted one so badly. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll give you a little breakdown on why it’s amazing: instead of having to deep-fry foods at home, you can use a teaspoon of oil to get the same results. And by “same” results I mean better results, because your house doesn’t reek of oil afterwards, it’s healthier, and you don’t need to dispose of a ton of oil after every use.

I decided to go with nacho fries because…no, I don’t need to justify it, it should be self-explanatory. Crispy cut fries smothered in veggie ground beef, tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream and a quick guacamole to top it all off. Using fries instead of tortilla chips makes for a fun meal, and since you’re making them at home you can use less oil, salt, etc. that goes into the store bought stuff—not that I’m against it, because I’ll destroy tortilla chips if you put them in front of me.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  •  5-6 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into french fry length (do not peel!)
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 package vegetarian ground round
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. each ground black pepper and salt
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 fresh juice of lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Extra jalapenos for garnish (optional)

Method

Place your freshly cut potatoes into the pan of the Actifry. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt on top. Set timer to 40 minutes, turn on, and let it do its thing.

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Throw your veggie ground beef in a pan with a small amount of vegetable oil, cumin, onion powder, paprika, black pepper and salt. Keep on medium-low heat and stir occasionally.

In the meantime, prep the guacamole. Smash together avocado, red onion, jalapeno, lemon juice, cilantro and a small amount of salt. Set aside.

In the final minute of your fries cooking, throw in the cheese to blend in with the fries. Once finished cooking, divide into equal portions or put into one big platter, and top with your diced tomato, veggie beef, sour cream, and guacamole.

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Full disclosure: Sears Canada is the official sponsor of this post.

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Poppers

Mini sweet peppers, stuffed with smoky, cheesy spread, breaded, and fried. You can’t go wrong. I know, I know, the holidays are almost over and everyone has gained 10 pounds and feels like if they eat cheese again they’ll die. Give it a week and you’ll be ready for these, I promise.

These are a nice alternative when you may not want as much heat as the classic jalapeno poppers have. They take roughly 45 minutes to make (maybe even less) and look super impressive when served up to guests. This is one of my favourite new appetizers because it’s cheap, unique, and easy.

We ended up liking the filling so much we just spread it on raw peppers and ate it as-is. The breading technique for these works perfectly for pan-frying, but try not to shift it around a lot since the more you move it, the more of the coating you’ll lose.

Note: If you like a bit more heat, you can sub out the sweet peppers for hotter ones. Alternatively, you can also just go crazy with the chipotle and make the stuffing really hot. Your call.

Sweet Chipotle Poppers

Ingredients

  • 1 8oz package of regular cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (the sharper the better!)
  • 3-4 tbsp. chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 15-20 mini sweet peppers in assorted colours
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying

Method

In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, chipotle peppers, and onion with a fork. Set aside, unrefridgerated, for 15 minutes to allow flavours to mingle. Set up your milk, flour, and breadcrumbs in separate bowls in the meantime.

Sweet Chipotle Poppers

Slice your peppers in half lengthwise and fill with cream cheese spread. The filling should just be at the brim of the pepper. Dip peppers in the milk, then into the flour, making sure each piece is coated all around. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Now, take your partially coated peppers and dip them into the milk again, then into the breadcrumbs, rolling them to get a full coating. Repeat until all peppers are evenly coated.

In a large skillet, pour oil to over 1″ of the surface. When the oil is hot, add in as many peppers will fit at a time without touching. Fry until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Drain on a paper towel and repeat until all peppers have been cooked. Serve hot on their own, or with a spicy dipping sauce of your choice!

Sweet Chipotle Poppers

Sweet Chipotle Poppers

Orange Fennel Salad with Hazelnut-Basil Dressing

Fennel is a newly developed favourite for me. It meets all of my criteria for my grocery list: it’s cheap, it’s healthy, and it’s versatile. It’s taste isn’t bland but it doesn’t over-power other ingredients. It can be eaten raw, fried, roasted…ok, you get the point. I like it.

This recipe is great for lunches because it doesn’t have any wilty greens in it—you can just throw the dressing on top, shake it up in a container, and take it over the next few days as a fresh side. Given that I’ve eaten cereal and bananas for lunch over the past few days, this was a nice change.

For the dressing, the ingredients I listed can be changed for any oil/vinegar mix you have in your pantry. I had these super fancy sounding ones, so I used those. The flavour may vary a bit if you decide to go with olive oil and white vinegar instead, but I don’t think it would be bad. I used this purple basil vinegar that my aunt Nancy made a while back; it’s been getting used a lot in my house, but this was one of the best uses yet. Mixed with the hazelnut oil, which pairs well with naturally sweet foods, it worked really well.

I decided against doing a Christmas Cookie Roundup this year since I had some other things on the go, but I do have some big changes coming in the new year that I think you’ll all benefit from. I’m excited to share a new sponsor next week as well!

Fennel, Orange and Dill Salad

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a side

  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin but it’s more than doable with a sharp kitchen knife)
  • 1 whole orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, broken into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
  • 1 tsp. purple basil vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Method

In a large bowl, toss together fennel, orange and dill. Gently fold in pomegranate seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper. Drizzle over salad and toss to ensure it’s well coated. Serve alongside your favourite veggie burger, soup, or eat as a main dish. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Fennel, Orange and Dill Salad

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese

Adding squash to mac ‘n cheese seems simple enough, but it makes such a huge difference in the end result that I’ll be doing this a lot more often from now on. This isn’t some attempt to be healthier, because while it does have more nutrients than plain old mac ‘n cheese, it’s still got loads of carbs, fat, and the stuff that makes comfort food so comfortable.

I lightly adapted this recipe from Flavour the Moments to create this dish. Hers looks much more orange and classic, but I think it’s because I varied my cheeses quite a bit. I was at the cottage while making this and I just had to roll with it. I love extra sharp cheeses so maybe it worked out for the best.

The pictures don’t really do this dish justice. I wanted it in my belly. Right then. So the whole “let’s stop and take pictures” thing didn’t last long.

On a sidenote, I finally tried Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, and it is really fantastic. I described it as a sweet, spongy omelette, which my boyfriend said didn’t sound too appetizing, but we both agreed it was great. They make everything super fresh and it’s much lighter than the typical, denser American cheesecake I have most of the time. No complaints.

Also, I finally got Instagram! I got scolded for being one of the only bloggers left who didn’t have it, so I caved. If you’re on there, give me a shout here.

Butternut Squash mac 'n cheese

Ingredients

Serves 6 people

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni or mini shell pasta
  • 2 tbsp. softened butter
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup old cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese of your choice—preferably sharp and dry
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 cup Japanese-style breadcrumbs, such as Panko

Method

First thing’s first: roast your squash. Rub a light layer of olive oil on the inside halves of your squash, place face down on a greased baking sheet, and place in the oven at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes, checking every 10-ish minutes to ensure it is cooked. You’ll know when it’s done if you can easily pierce it with a fork. Allow to cool, then scrape roasted squash into a large bowl. Mash heartily until barely any chunks remain.

Cook your pasta according to the directions. I recommend doing it slightly al dente (chewy), since over cooked noodles are the worst. Drain once done and set aside.

Heat butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly until it’s golden brown and bubbly and smells like shortbread, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add about a third of the milk in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly until the mixture resembles a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk until smooth, and place back over medium heat. Whisk the mixture constantly to prevent burning, and cook until thickened and boiling, about 7-10 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in the 1½ cups of cheese and butternut squash puree. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pasta and stir until combined.

Place in a greased 8×8-inch casserole dish , sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil greased with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Best if served straight out of the oven, but it reheats amazingly well.

Butternut Squash mac 'n cheese