Happy belated birthday mom!
Quick post since I’m going to be leaving to head up to my mom’s house to hang out with her.
I wanted to head up there to hang out and cook her dinner but she doesn’t want me to so we’ll probably go out to eat. Am I the only one that thinks that’s weird? I offer to cook her dinner and she doesn’t want it (maybe I’m secretly a bad cook and have no business doing a food blog).
First she started with don’t do anything crazy or make too much (I admittedly have a bad habit of going overboard – Thanksgiving usually ends up turning into a buffet with 7 to 8 side dishes). But this time I was planning a simple paella with maybe a side salad. I mean it’s a one dish meal.
Even last Mother’s day I wanted to make her dinner and where’d we end up? A Chinese buffet. Seriously, no joke.
So at first the paella idea was fine but now since her husband isn’t going to be home we’re going out to eat. I think my mom might be the only person who doesn’t want me to cook for her *sigh*.
But anyway, back to why you’re here. Let’s talk food.
I’m on a quest to find an awesome mac and cheese recipe that doesn’t have a bajillion calories and crazy amounts of fat. I think my issue is that I’m more of a fan of stovetop macaroni and cheese because I like mine really saucy but also have a weird obsession with baked versions. The husband on the other hand is perfectly happy with it since he doesn’t like a lot of sauce and he hates Velveeta.
This one was inspired by the Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese from Cooking Light, but I changed it to suit my tastes and hopefully make it better than it was originally written.
I will say that I loved the sweetness that the squash imparted (although I hated having to peel all of that winter squash) and it did have an appealing texture. Warning though, if you make this make sure that you eat it that same night. This didn’t reheat as well as I hoped. It was certainly edible the next day, but it dried out a little bit and considering I’m a sauce fanatic, it was disappointing reheated (much like fried food is so much better when it’s first cooked versus when it’s reheated).
Serve with a big garden salad to round out the meal.
- 1 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (or about ½ lb of any winter squash will do)
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup fat free milk
- ½ Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 4 drops of hot sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ cup 2% extra sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp fontina or swiss
- ½ cup nonfat cottage cheese
- 1 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan
- 6 oz whole wheat elbows
- 1/4 cup whole wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine squash, broth, milk, garlic, butter, soy sauce, onion powder, dry mustard, paprika, hot sauce, bay leaf and nutmeg in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
- Place the hot squash mixture in a blender/food processor. (If you have an immersion blender you can just do it in the pot). Add salt, pepper, nonfat cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. Remove center plastic part in lid and cover with dish towel to allow steam to escape. Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in cheddar and fontina until combined
- Parcook pasta following package directions. Reduce cooking time by half (for example if you pasta says to cook for 10 minutes, cook it for 5 since it’ll finish cooking in the oven). Mix with cheese/squash blend and pour into a 2 quart casserole sprayed with nonstick spray. Mixture will look very saucy, but it’ll bake up and set.
- Top with whole wheat panko then Parmesan. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
- Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
And there you go! Not too hard but it does require a bit more time due to peeling the winter squash, etc. If you’re not like me and don’t have two acorn squash from the CSA begging to be used up, I’d definitely do the shortcut method and buy the pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash just to make it a bit easier. Considering how annoying it is to peel winter squash, it’s a good thing it’s delicious and makes one willing to go through the effort.