Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tutor with @VeggieBeastBlog

Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese


Each Tuesday I ask a friend to be my tutor for a day. I select one of their original recipes, I follow my friend's recipe instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I sample the results - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More



I actually precisely remember the moment I met Katie. It started with these Pot Stickers. Katie added them to the Made with Love Mondays series. I had never even heard of pot stickers (silly me) and it began my curiosity with Katie's creations. Not so very long later, Katie's photos began to appear in the Food Fetish Friday series. Like this Red White and Blueberry Crisp. Or these Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream Frosting.

You can see why I've been itching to make something from Veggie and the Beast. And when Katie suggested this Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, how could I resist? First, it's pasta and cheese - something I can never resist. Then there's butternut squash - my absolute favorite winter squash. And finally, I've always wanted to try a squash mac and cheese - especially after reading Katie's version!

So please help me give a big welcome to Katie - Welcome, Katie! And thank you so much for being my tutor!



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Katie Parker is the creator of Veggie and the Beast, a food blog that focuses on crowd-pleasing vegetarian meals, snacks and treats. A vegetarian since the age of 3, she loves experimenting with healthy, veggie-packed recipes that even her carnivorous bow-hunting boyfriend will devour. When baking she uses simple-yet-decadent ingredients, and believes the right cookie can solve all problems.



Featured Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese


More About Today's Tutor
  1. I've been with my boyfriend Ryan ("The Beast") for 3 years. He's a bow hunter and avid outdoorsmen, whereas I'm a longtime vegetarian who's never gone camping (and never intends to). Throughout the 2 years I've been working on my blog, he's built photo lights for me, poured syrup, sifted flour, and spooned up soup over and over and OVER so that I could get a good shot, and kindly pretended to enjoy all of the recipe flops that didn't end up on the blog. He's a total trooper, and I don't know how I'd keep the blog up without him (hence his presence in the blog name)!
     
  2. I started blogging so that I could combine two of my passions: writing and making food. When I wrote my first post I realized I should include a photo, so I quickly snapped a poorly-lit picture of soup with my phone. Now, nearly two-years later, I spend hours standing on chairs, bending over couches, and generally contorting my body in order to get a good shot. Ryan thinks I'm a total nut...and maybe I am?
     
  3. One of the biggest struggles I've had with my blog is perfecting the lighting/white balance in my photos. My latest photography obsession is backlighting my food and using a white poster board for reflection (preferably while there is late-afternoon sun). It's a game changer.
     
  4. I've lived in Minnesota all my life, and am made fun of frequently for being an 80-year-old midwestern lady stuck in a 27-year-old body. I prefer cozy nights at home when I can bake, read, and go to bed early. My knee-jerk reactions when I'm surprised are 1) "Oh gee wow," 2) "Oh my" and 3) "Oh goodness." I'm not sure I can say "Hello" to someone without putting the word "Oh" in front of it. I'm embarrassing.
     
  5. I don't keep track of calories, fat, or carbs, but I do make sure that my meals focus on fresh vegetables, whole grains, and simple, minimally-processed ingredients. My philosophy is to eat good-for-you whole foods the majority of the time, but let yourself indulge when you crave it - sometimes you just really need a cookie!



How to Make: Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
For a printable recipe and complete list of ingredients and steps, see the original recipe

Butternut Squash, Halved, Seeded and Chunked
Peel, de-seed and chunk a medium butternut squash.

Butternut Squash Seasoned with Oil and Spices
Add the cubed squash to a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper and minced fresh rosemary.

Roasted Butternut Squash
Roast the squash for 30 minutes at 400F.

Butternut Squash Puree
Puree the squash in a blender, adding up to 1 cup of vegetable stock to aid in creating a smooth puree.

3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
While the butternut squash is roasting, you can begin preparing the cheese sauce. Start with 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Melting Butter in Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.

Two Shallots, Finely Diced
While the butter melts, finely dice 2 shallots.

Diced Shallot Added to Hot Butter
Add the diced shallots to the hot butter and sautee until softened.

Measuring Fresh Nutmeg
While the shallots soften, grate 1/4 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg.

Flour and Grated Nutmeg Added to Butter and Shallots
Add 3 Tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour and nutmeg to the butter and shallots. Whisk to combine and cook until the roux develops a nutty fragrance.

1 1/2 Cups Milk
Measure 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Adding Milk to Roux
Whisk the milk into the roux.

Whisking White Sauce Until Thickened
Continue whisking for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Barilla Ziti Pasta
While the white sauce thickens, begin preparing the pasta. Katie recommends farfalle (or bow-tie) pasta. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and ended up using ziti instead. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the box - but avoid over-cooking the pasta.

1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Sage
Mince 1 Tablespoon of fresh sage.

1 Cup Grated Extra Share Cheddar Cheese
Grate 1 cup of extra sharp aged cheddar cheese (I used Cabot).

Spices Added to White Sauce
Add the minced sage, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the thickened white sauce.

2 Cups of Homemade Chicken Stock
Measure 1 1/2 cups vegetable sock (I used homemade stock from my freezer).

Vegetable Stock Added to White Sauce
Add the stock to the sauce and spices and whisk to combine. Continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thickened. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot while whisking when the sauce is sufficiently thickened.

Grated Cheddar Cheese and Cream Cheese Added to Sauce
Over low heat, add the grated cheddar cheese and 4 ounces of low-fat cream cheese (1/2 brick). Whisk to combine until smooth.

Butternut Squash Puree Added to Cheese Sauce
When the cheese sauce is smooth, add the pureed squash and whisk until smooth.

Pasta Added to Sauce
Add the pasta and stir to evenly coat every piece of pasta.

Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Serve with a grating of parmesan cheese.


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • Roasted butternut squash has to be one of the tastiest veggies on the planet. And the sprinkling of rosemary, salt and pepper only enhances the natural deliciousness of the squash. If you're not in the mood for pasta, you could easily turn the squash puree into a tasty soup or even a replacement for traditional mashed potatoes.
     
  • This mac and cheese is very filling thanks to the pasta and squash. It's also relatively creamy, especially if your squash puree is silky smooth. However, if you're expecting Velveeta-creamy, you'll be disappointed. Squash is unavoidably pasty - but that's not a bad thing. It's just not Velveeta (thank goodness!).
     
  • I liked the use of sage against the other flavors - it adds a wonderful depth. Boyfriend Javelin was less of a fan. But then, he's generally not a sage fan so no big surprise. If you're a sage aficionado, a Tablespoon of minced fresh sage is perfect. But if you're less of a fan, consider cutting back or leaving out the sage entirely.
     
  • I was planning to use farfalle (bow-tie) pasta for this recipe - I even checked to make sure I had a box in the pantry. But I didn't check to see how much was in the box! It was only two-thirds full and not nearly enough for this recipe. So I improvised and used ziti instead. However, I recommend following Katie's recommendation and sticking with little bow-ties.

7 comments:

  1. I love this and it's great discovering a new blog too.

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed and had the chance to meet Katie's Veggie and the Beast blog! I always leave her blog inspired...

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  3. I love Katie's philosophy and humour, as well as her recipe. I'm not a massive mac and cheese fan but when I make it for crowds I nearly always add butternut squash too. It is a brilliant flavour and colour enhancer as well as adding some lovely fibre. I don't usually add any herbs, but as rosemary is best friends with squash I know it would be fab in this recipe. Love the look of the other featured recipes too, and their great photos. Thanks for introducing us to Katie.

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  4. I'm so pleased you enjoyed getting to know Katie, Kellie - much like you, she inspires creative veggie thoughts for me (although perhaps more desserts than veggies but...). I had seen squash mac and cheese across a lot of different blogs and I'm pleased to have finally had the chance to give it a go...

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  5. I love roasted anything, and squash is right up there. Super looking dish - I'll bet this has tons of flavor, and is much healthier than normal Mac 'n Cheese. Really good tutor - thanks.

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  6. I could seriously just chow down on the roasted squash with rosemary - that was so tasty! And with all the fiber from the squash, I hope the mac and cheese is more healthful ;) Plus, no cream and less cheese, so... I'm glad you enjoyed, John...

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  7. Kayle (The Cooking Actress)September 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Whoa. This mac n cheese looks serious--I'm not normally into butternut squash but idk I might need to change my mind...

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