Monthly Archives: February 2012

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

You know one of those dishes you instantly fall in love with, and then make it over and over?  Ya well, this is one of them in our house.  This is one of CH’s hands-down favourites, and whenever I ask him what I should make for dinner, this is on the list.

I remember making it for the first time over a year ago, while we were still in London.  I didn’t tell CH about the “secret” ingredient, I just merely served-up this delicious, creamy, bright orange macaroni and cheese and left it at that.  CH devoured the dish, went in for seconds and that’s when I popped the question on him “umm, do you notice anything difference?” // “No, oh that’s interesting – are you sure?” // “GOTCHA – it has butternut squash in it”.   Wife 1, Husband 0.

In all seriousness, this dish is EVERYTHING a good macaroni and cheese should be, plus the added health benefit of having butternut squash puree, and reducing the amount of cheddar cheese – each serving only has about 325 calories.  I’ve made this dish for company many times, for my parents (and even my Dad liked it – which is a feat in and of itself) and I most recently made it for my girlfriend who is Vegan – and it turned out beautifully (or at least I think it did…)  For those who want to make it Vegan – I used Oh She Glow’s recipe, the recipe for our usual version is below.

As a total aside, and one last note, it re-heats beautifully for lunch.  So definitely make a large batch and enjoy the next day!  Also, head over to The Way the Cookie Crumbles or Branny Boils Over for the original recipe and some great tips!


Butternut Squash Macroni & Cheese

Yield: Serves 8
Prep/Cook Time:  About 1 hour and 20 minutes, including roasting the squash “my-way”.


  • 1 small-to-medium butternut squash
  • 12 ounces (1 box) dried elbow macaroni
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups) + 3 TBSP shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry your butternut squash.  Place the butternut squash, in its whole-form, in the oven and roast for 45mins – 1hour, or until a butter knife inserted into the flesh meets no resistance. (You can also cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes).

Remove from oven, allow the squash to cool.  Cut in half, remove the seeds.

Scoop 2 cups of flesh from the squash and puree it with your hand-blender or food processor.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add about a tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente – you want it to still be firm. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the flour and mustard. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the milk.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.

At this point, add the grated cheeses, ½ teaspoon of salt, a dash of ground pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.

Next, add the pureed butternut squash to the saucepan and whisk until incorporate.  At this point, you can proceed without pureeing again, but I like a smooth as possible sauce, so I puree it one more time, in the pot, with my hand-blender.

Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir thoroughly.

*At this point, you can serve it immediately and it is delicious*  However…

I place my macaroni into a 9×12 baking dish, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs and additional 3 TBSP of cheddar cheese over top and put it under the broiler for 2 – 4 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.  This step adds a beautiful crunch texture to the dish, but again, it is completely option.


Recipe Slightly adapted From The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Branny Boils Over



Filed under Healthy, Italian, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese

I still remember the first time I had risotto.:  I was about 13 or 14,  my Mom had been out with some girlfriends for dinner, and they went to a local Italian restaurant.  She came home with leftover risotto, I hadn’t had dinner, so I swooped in immediately.  I was greeted by this creamy looking dish, that was filled with beautifully seasoned vegetables and a texture and taste that left me wishing there was more.  It was a far cry from this recipe, but nonetheless, it introduced me to a very delicious ingredient.

To this day, I enjoy risotto.  I have never ordered it when dining-out, which is odd, because it is a little labour intensive and would be a welcomed treat.  However, I think it’s because I really enjoy the process of making risotto, as there is something gratifying about slowly adding liquid to the dish, and watching it become more and more creamy.  We received a package of beautiful risotto rice in a gift basket recently, and this got my wheels turning to make this dish.

This recipe was meant to be CH and I’s Valentines dinner together.  We aren’t big Vday fans, but we welcome any excuse to spend the night together, eating a good meal and drinking a bottle of wine.  However, Vday came and went this year, and CH was stuck at the office, so this dish had to wait a few days to be made.  However, it was worth the wait, as CH and I had fun chatting away in the kitchen as he stirred and I added liquid, until we had the *almost* perfectly cooked risotto and one delicious dinner for two! (Ps – yes, I was a dork and planned a pink dish for Vday…).

As we were making it, the idea came to me to submit this recipe as my contribution to What’s Baking this month – the theme, chosen by She Cooks and Bakes, was “Bake with Valentines Colours”, and although this isn’t technically “baked”, it’s Valentines colored, therefore I think it applies.  Plus, how fun is it to have a savoury dish in the mix, and be a little different.  I also don’t bake a lot with food-dye, so this to me fit the bill ever so perfectly.

I haven’t even written about how good the beets make this dish, but just trust me, they take a normally delicious risotto and put it OVER the top good.  The earthy flavour of the beets blends perfectly with the rich-creamy flavour of the risotto, basically making a perfect match.


Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese

Yield: About 6 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 hours or so


  • 4 medium beets (about 2 lbs with greens), trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached
  • 3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth + 1 TBSP for roasting beets
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 TBSP for roasting beets
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese (plus a little more for garnish if you want it to look fancy!)


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss the beets with 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TBSP of chicken stock and a dash of S&P. Tightly wrap beets in a double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, about 1 hour or so (depends on size of you beets – could be as long as 1.5 hours if they are large beets). You will know they are ready when you can insert a knife through the middle without any resistance.

Place the cooked beets aside and cool to warm in foil package, about 20 minutes.

When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  *Be careful, beets stain EVERYTHING – so use caution!*

When you are ready to make the risotto, bring the broth and water to a rolling simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat and keep at a low simmer.

Preheat a wide (4- to 6-quart) pot over moderate heat.  Add in the olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add rice to the onions and oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Add the wine to the pan , simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth.)

Stir in diced beets, salt, and pepper (mixture will turn bright pink) and cook, stirring, until heated through. Thin to your liking with some of leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat and serve!


Recipe slightly adapted from Love and Olive Oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Italian, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Apple Pie Cookies

Why oh why must there be something called the flu?  And why must have it hit me so hard?  I am generally very healthy, I usually only get sick one a year and it’s with a minor cold – you know the stuffy nose, sore throat thing…ya well, not this year.  Needless to say, I have been absolutely down and out with a horrible flu for the past week and even as I write this post I am not 100%.  I still have no voice (CH is really enjoy this…) and I still have a horrible cough that keeps me up at night.  The good news is that my energy levels are back to somewhat normal, and I am hungry again.   When I’m not hungry…you know there is an issue.

In any event, I made these cookies a few weeks ago – for a football party actually.  CH and I were sitting on the couch and I was trying to decide what to bake to bring to our friends place.  I was scrolling through my GR and up came Annie’s post for these cookies…it lead to a girlish-like shreak for CH, exclaiming “YOU MUST MAKE THESE NOW!”.  So, I made sure I had everything I needed, which I did because these are so simple, and the plan was in motion.

Let me tell you, these were quite simple to make and CH even helped, which was really nice but caused a few confusing moments…let’s just say he should stick to reading legal documents, especially when it comes to ingredient measurements! In any event, a few steps backwards, a few steps forwards these cookies were in the oven and CH was beaming with excitement.   I could hardly get them out of the oven before he was chowing-down on a “taste-test” one, and then a “quality-control” one, just to make sure they were all the same. I think the “quality control” step was repeated a few times, but they were quickly packaged up and put away so that we actually had something to bring to our friends place.

These cookies were a huge hit, they are little apple pie deliciousness’.  Although I was challenged many times that they were “Apple Pies” or “Pocket Pies”, I remained insistent that they were Apple Pie Cookies – even if Annie’s husband challenged her too!  Nonetheless, they are a perfect sweet treat and a lot of fun to eat.  They would be welcomed at any type of event, and I loved Annie’s idea of bringing them to a family meal with a few other choices – that way, you get a small taste of many yummy items!


Apple Pie Cookies

Yield: Annie says 24, but we got more like 18 because they were larger!
Prep Time:  20 minutes + 1 hour resting time (dough)
Cook Time:  25 minutes

Apple Pie Cookies

  • 2½ cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. (4 grams) salt
  • 2 sticks (8 oz. or 1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup very cold water
  • 2 large apples, whatever variety you prefer for baking
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • Water
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • Sugar, for sprinkling

Additional stuff

  • A couple baking sheets covered with parchment paper
  • Rolling pin, pastry brush (for egg wash), fork (for crimping and dipping) and sharp knife (to make slits)
  • Round cookie cutters – you’ll need two – as you want to make sure there’s at least a 3/4-inch different in the sizes, as you’ll need the extra margin to crimp your dough.


To make the pie dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand-mixer and stir to blend. Using the whisk attachment on medium-low speed, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is coarse and the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Switch to your beater blade and add in the water and mix gently just until the dough has come together in a a cohesive ball and all of the dry ingredients have been moistened. Try not to over-mix.  Form the dough into a disc and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to make your cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Peel the apples and remove the core.  Dice the apples into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes. Place the apple cubes in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In another small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and whisk to blend.

To assemble the cookies, transfer half of the chilled pie dough to a lightly floured work surface (keep the other half chilled). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out very thin, about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Use the larger cookie cutter, cut out rounds of the pie dough. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets.  Brush the rounds lightly with water (this will help the pies seal).

At this point, add the diced apple to the cinnamon-sugar mixture and toss to coat. Place about 1.5 TBSP of apple on top of each dough-round.

Remove the other half of the chilled pie dough to a lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out very thin, about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Use the slightly smaller cookie cutter, cut out rounds of the pie dough.

Layer the rounds of dough on top of the diced apple and gently press the edges to help seal. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and apple slices.

(Smitten Kitchen likes to crimp them together by hand, but I found this hard to do, so I did it while they were on the baking sheet).

Crimp and seal the edges of the mini pies with the tines of a fork, dipping in flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash.

Use a small paring knife to cut tiny slits in the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until light golden brown.

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from Smitten Kitchen


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Desserts