THANKSGIVING – Aside from giving thanks for what you have, “Turkey Day” is well known for devouring copious amounts of comfort food, sipping plenty of drinks, watching football and bonding time with family and friends. We hosted Thanksgiving at our place this year. Given that I love to cook and bake it had to happen eventually! Since I am ultra-addicted to Pinterest, I decided to use it as my source of inspiration for the turkey and sides I decided to make. I pinned about 22 recipes as I was very indecisive about what to make. When I saw this recipe for Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese I knew I had to try making it since I love butternut squash. Out of all the sides I made this one will be a keeper for years to come! Below is my hot and spicy version of Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese. Hope you enjoy making it and eating it!
1.5 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
1 butternut squash cut in half
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup of spicy cheddar cheese
For the topping
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup whole grain panko
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half. Deseed and clean half of the squash and save the other half for later use.
Take the butternut squash that you have cleaned, place it on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. You want the squash to be velvety soft and buttery looking. It should also mash very easily. Remove the squash from the oven and cool. Once cooled place the squash in a stove top pan and mash it with a potato masher or fork making sure to remove all lumps. Add in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook on stovetop set at medium, add in the chicken stock and mix well.
Then add in the milk. You should now have a nice and smooth base that looks like rue but yellow-orange in color. At this point add in the butter and stir until it is well incorporated. Now for my favorite part…the cheese! I used spicy buffalo flavored cheddar as the sharpness it has goes well with the sweetness of butternut squash.
You’ll need to grate the cheese and mix it with the butternut squash until it has fully melted. Then mix the shells into the sauce, taking a few minutes to fully toss the shells so they are all coated. Now one could stop here and eat this yummy mac and cheese… HOWEVER, I happen to like mine au gratin style! I mixed in the finely chopped walnuts and panko, put the mac & cheese in an oven proof baking dish, and baked it for 20 minutes.
The result is an awesome Mac n’ Cheese with a topping that is crunchy, golden and simply delicious! Below is the link the the original recipe:
Hope you enjoy it however you make it! Since I like to overcook there were plenty of leftovers and I enjoyed mine watching football both on Thanksgiving and on Sunday! Therefore I have to close this with a shout out to “Big Blue” for winning a game they needed very decisively! When this team is “on” they play hard, with the best and beat the best! Way to go Big Blue!