Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

December 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’m experiencing a case of the post-Christmas blues. You know that feeling, the day is over, decorations are still up but you know they have to come down soon, no more countdown emails in your inbox. Thankfully I’m still with my family or I’d really be depressed.

This is that time when comfort food is needed. Comfort food with a twist. It’s the goodness of mac and cheese, creamy, warm, filling but with an added bonus. A little bit of the sweet healthy goodness that is butternut squash.

And the breadcrumbs really add an extra crunch to the top. I think you’ll really like this. My one recommendation with this is to make sure you have your ingredients prepped (i.e. peel, de-seed and chop your butternut squash) before starting. It just makes the actual cooking it part much smoother.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
  • 3 cups uncooked pasta shells
  • 4 cups 1/2 inch cubed butternut squash (uncooked)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 6 oz grated fontina cheese
  • 2 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp brown butter
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
To Make:
1) Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta shells until al dente. Preheat oven to 375.
2) While the water is boiling, heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet or pan. I used my dutch oven because it’s what I had. Once pan is hot add the butternut squash, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Next, add the chicken stock and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until squash is fork-tender.
3) Mash the butternut squash using fork, or mixer, or potato masher until smooth. Stir in the milk, 4 oz of the fontina cheese and the parmesan cheese until melted and well-combined. Finally add the brown butter.
4) Stir in the shells until mixed in. Top with bread crumbs and extra cheese. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, turn on broiler for the last few minutes until bread crumbs are browned and mixture is bubbly. Let sit for a few minutes then spoon into bowls. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins

December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m having a serious case of day-off-itis today. All I want to do it sit around and watch How I Met Your Mother or go ice skating. Does anyone else want to go ice skating? Come with me! I don’t particularly want vacuum or grocery shop or return my library books. This blog post is a compromise. It involves sitting down but also is on my to do list so I guess it’s a win-win. Also, I get to share this delicious recipe with you guys.
And no mixer involved, only a wooden spoon, a large measuring cup and a mixing bowl. And a muffin tin, but that’s implied.
Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins
from the Food Network
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, but some for the tops
To Make:
1) Preheat oven to 400* F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
2) Stir together flour, powder, soda, cocoa and sugar. In separate bowl whisk milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract. Pour into flour-mixture and stir with wooden spoon just until combined. Then mix in chocolate chips.
3) Spoon batter into muffin tin and top each with a few chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Vegan Date Bars

December 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

My general philosophy is that if something is vegan it’s healthy. Therefore it’s okay if I eat one of the vegan date bars as a dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cool, right? One of the most fantastic parts about this is that there is NO oven involved. No turning on the oven. woo hoo.

Also there are only 6 ingredients. The original recipe had 5 but I didn’t have enough almonds so it’s a whole 6 ingredients. This recipe is shaping up to be amazing. How could it get better? But really, the best best part about bar this is the crust. You wouldn’t even know it’s vegan. It tastes so delicious and is salty which perfectly balances the the sweetness of the dates. By the way, this is adapted from Oh She Glows.

Ingredients for crust:
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
for filling:
  • 30-35 Medjool dates (about 2.5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water

To Make:

  1. Roughly chop the dates. In a food processor combine the oats, almonds, pecans and salt until it turns into a fine crumble. Add the 10 dates until combined. Melt the oil in microwave and put that in the food processor too. This mixture should be sticky. Save about one cup of this mixture until the end.
  2. Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray. Dump the crust mixture and spread into the bottom of a pan. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom.
  3. Clean out the food processor. Bring the 3/4 cup water to a boil in the microwave and put the rest of the dates into the boiling water. Let soak for a 5-10 minutes.
  4. Dump water and dates into food processor and pulse until a paste forms. Scrape down the sides as often as you need to. Now, spread paste over the crust evenly. Finally, sprinkle the part of the crust mixture you saved over the top.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to overnight. Serve with a big glass of almond or soy milk or regular milk. Enjoy!

Cocoa Almond Granola

December 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

So, I’m not totally into the idea of giving people baked goods for the holidays. This make come as a shock since I feel like everyone in the internet-world really is. But honestly, I think because other people do like to most people are going to end up with tons of cookies and Ferrere Rocher Christmas trees. I don’t necessarily feel like contributing to that.
This recipe may have changed that for me. I immediately started coming up with ways I could package this delicious cocoa almond granola to make it look festive and the cute cards I would write to people.
It’s a delicious crunchy, slightly sweet combination that is perfect as breakfast, midmorning snack or late at night while watching too many Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube.
Cocoa Almond Granola
from the Joy the Baker cookbook
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened, but either would work)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To Make:
1) Preheat your oven to 350* F. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper (or two smaller sheets).
2) Toss together all of the dry ingredients, including oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt.
3) In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, honey, vegetable oil, butter. Stir to combine until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to bubble. This takes about 5 minutes over medium heat. Once mixture is ready, take off heat and stir in vanilla.
4) Pour warm mixture into oat mixture and combine well with wooden spoon.
5) Dump mixture onto baking sheet(s), smooth until even and put into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring several times while baking. Make sure you bring the goodness on the edges into the center or it’ll get too crispy. It’s done when fragrant and toasted on the edges.
6) Let it cool completely. Store in air tight container for up to a week (if it lasts!) Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe yet. Ever since discovering this delightful breakfast it’s been in my repertoire repeatedly. Best part about this? The delicious and creamy combo of peanut butter and banana. I’m a little partial to the Adams Peanut Butter. It’s natural (NO ADDED SUGAR) and you don’t have to do any stirring to use it.
To begin you saute some banana slices in coconut oil and let the flavor really come out of them. Then you add the rest of the ingredients and let the oats cook in almond milk. Bonus, it’s vegan so you start out your day feeling super healthy. Make it on the morning you’re needing a filling and delicious and warm way to start the day and enjoy!
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 and 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional toppings: peanut butter, maple syrup, chopped peanuts, extra almond milk
To Make:
1) Melt coconut oil in small pot. Roughly chop the banana and saute in pan until it starts to get soft and a little mushy (as unappealing as that sounds).
2) Once banana is ready, stir in the peanut butter for just a few minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil. Then simmer until thick and creamy, about 8-10 minutes.
4) Scoop into a bowl, add your toppings and dig in! Enjoy.

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