Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

It’s still the season for butternut squash.

I came across a recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese. It sounded so tasty that I couldn’t resist trying it out.

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Ingredients:
4 cups butternut squash (half of a good sized squash)
1 head of fresh broccoli
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
1 box elbow macaroni
1 package shredded red fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese
1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper (can add more)
Squirt of mustard
2.5 tbsp breadcrumbs

Start by peeling the butternut squash and slicing it into small cubes. Much like for the autumn couscous recipe, I put the cubed squash in a microwave safe bowl and heated for 8 minutes with a couple tablespoons of water in the bowl and a piece of loose saran wrap on top. Stir at 4 minutes, then continue heating.

While the squash is cooking, rinse and cut the broccoli into smaller pieces. Set aside.

When the squash is soft, put it in a food processor with the chicken stock and puree. I left some chunks for texture, but you can make this all smooth if you prefer. Pour the puree into a sauce pan and add the cup of skim milk. Simmer over a low flame, just until combines and heated throughout.

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Once the mixture is combined, that the pan off heat and add the cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste, and add just a squirt of yellow mustard.

As for the pasta, just make it the way it tells you to on the box. I used whole wheat elbow macaroni, which cooked in about 8 minutes.

Pour the drained and cooked macaroni into a large casserole pan. Pour the squash-cheese mixture over the pasta, and add the broccoli on top. Stir just until combined, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.

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Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.

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Fair warning: this recipe makes a lot. For just Dan and I, this recipe covered dinner, lunch for both of us the next day, and we even had at least 3 servings left over after that.

It was a really tasty dish, though I was surprised at how little you could taste the butternut squash. I think this would be great for kids to slip some veggies into their diet without then noticing. It’s good that way for adults too.

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More Pumpkin (Waffles!)

Back on Monday, I shared how to make pumpkiny snickerdoodles.

The recipe didn’t call for using the whole can of pumpkin puree, so I put the remainder of the can in the fridge and vowed to remember to make something with it.

I almost forgot, but over the weekend, I saw it in there while searching for something to eat when I thought of the perfect fall weekend breakfast – pumpkin waffles.

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I quickly googled for an easy recipe and found this one. To make it just a little healthier for you, I substituted half of the regular flour for whole wheat flour.

I’m sure I added a bit more pumpkin than the recipe called for since I was trying to use it all up.

We didn’t have any maple syrup, so Dan devised an awesome butter-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture to put on top. He melted the butter in the microwave, then stirred in the sugar and spice. It was kind of a thick mixture, so we brushed it onto the waffles.

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And yes, those are waffles. With a swirl pattern in them. How I got such an appliance is a secret.

Pumpkiny Snickerdoodles

I finally got around to trying to put a fall twist on a classic cookie.

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I found this recipe on pinterest, and knew I had to test it out.

I followed the recipe, only making one change. I used some brown sugar in the sugar-cinnamon mixture I rolled the dough in before baking. I like that it made the cookies a little speciklier.

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The verdict: They were good, but something was off. I think Dan hit the nail on the head when he said that the cookies were fluffy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with fluffy, chewy cookies. It’s just that snickerdoodles aren’t supposed to be fluffy. I probably won’t make these again. I guess this goes to show you that sometimes, a classic shouldn’t be changed.

Stay tuned later on in the week to see what I did with the leftover canned pumpkin!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Over the weekend, I went with my family to the Morton Arboretum out in the western suburbs. According to the Today weekend show, this was the best weekend in the Midwest to see fall foliage in all it’s glory. I think that prediction was correct. It was a gorgeous day, where I was able to take some photos like this

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and this.

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After we left, we went back to my in-laws’ house and carved pumpkins.

Yeah, I should have taken a photo of our pumpkins. But I didn’t.

I did sift through all the pumpkin guts to salvage the seeds from about 4 of the pumpkins for the express purpose of making roasted pumpkin seeds. They came out delicious.

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I took them home in a large freezer bag, and, at the advice of my sister-in-law, soaked the seeds in salt water overnight. It removed all the pumpkin gunk and infused the seeds with some salt.

Dan strained the seeds out of the water and put them in a bowl.

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We added some olive oil, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, just enough to coat the seeds.

Put them on foil lined baking sheets and bake them at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring the seeds occasionally.

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I ended up getting quite a few seeds – about 3 containers full. I only took a photo of this one.

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It’s a great, fairly healthy fall treat.

A Different Kind of Sweater Weather

I’ve always loved sweater pillows.They go with the fall like the sweaters I wear do.

Pottery Barn had some great ones last year. This year, I’m lusting after these from West Elm.

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But, at $39 a pop, without including the pillow inserts, these were just too rich for my blood.

I’ve seen many sweater pillow tutotials on pinterest, so I decided to try my hand at sewing some sweater pillows of my own.

I started by choosing some colors I’d want. I decided to stick in the light blue/beige/off white family. I figured it would match my living room colors, and would translate well from fall to winter, and even be OK for the holidays.

Dan and I took a trip to a local thrift store on half price day, and I think I bought all of these sweaters for less than $8 total.

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Now, it was just a matter of sitting down and sewing.

Because I don’t own a sewing machine, or know how to work one for that matter, I sewed everything by hand.

I didn’t really have an idea of how I was going to make each pillow cover. I just looked at each sweater, all in different styles, and tried to figure out what the easiest thing to do would be.

I think the results came out rather well.

I made four pillows.

Two for the chair and a half.

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And two for the couch.

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I think my favorite is the light blue cable knit pillow with the rosette embellishment I made from the collar of the sweater and a stray pearl button I had.

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Dan really likes this toggle closure too.

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Maybe they don’t look exactly like the West Elm ones, but with a savings of $148, again, not including the cost of pillow inserts, I think mine will do just fine.

New Fall Checklist

Not that I’ve officially properly mourned the end of summer, and shared my fun warm weather happenings, I’m ready to move on to fall.

Last year, I created this Fall Fun Checklist.

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I never really updated my progress on it, but I can tell you now that I completed everything except visiting a haunted house and playing in leaves. Pretty good in my book.

This year, I’ve created a new to do list, and tried to come up with completely new activities to try.

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As you can see, I made a few tweaks to the layout. I kept the general color scheme the same, it is fall, but I inverted the list to be vertical. I think it looks better on my mantle that way.

I really had to limit myself in the food category. What it is about crisp weather that makes you want to bake up a batch of fatty cookies or whip up a pot of creamy, calorie-filled soup? I do have a ton of new fall recipes I want to try, and I’m sure you’ll hear about those when I get around to making them.

Feel free to print out mthe checklist and partake in my fall fun.

I hope to check just as many off my list as I did last year. Are there any activities you’re looking forward to this season that I’ve forgotten?

DIY Pumpkin Candle Holders

Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean that you should remove all pumpkins from around your house.

Apparently, shiny pumpkins are all the rage right now. Isn’t this display gorgeous?

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As you may know, I myself enjoy sparkly decorations every now and again, so I thought I’d jump on this trend and make some of my own. With some leftover silver spray paint and some new glitter spray paint I’ve been dying to try out, I was able to make these:

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Can you believe those pumpkins were originally $1 a piece from the Dollar Tree?

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The process itself was simple enough. I started with three cheap carvable plastic pumpkins.

Carefully, I cut a hole in the top of each one to eventually put a tea light.

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We had a wine party the night before I made these, so Dan smartly used the empty wine bottles to hold the pumpkins while they were sprayed.

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Two coats of silver and a quick spray of the glitter was all it took.

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Finally, just add in the tea lights.

Eventually, I think these will end up as part of my tablescape for the day after Thanksgiving dinner I host every year. Maybe with a natural brown-toned table runner.