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February 8, 2012

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Bake

Sometimes, a hectic environment leads to a good idea. For example, last night I decided to make two different dishes: latkes and butternut squash mac and cheese. It was one of the more stressful cooking experiences of my life! I was baking, boiling, crying (I was chopping onions….okay….I was overwhelmed….) and burning myself. Two hours and a messy kitchen later I had two delicious dishes!

I was shocked that I created anything edible last night. Although, to an extent, it does make sense; when we are challenged we have the capability for the greatest growth and success. Last night, my creative juices were flowing and I created my new favorite dish: butternut squash mac and cheese bake. I adapted a recipe that my friend sent me earlier in the day. To be honest, I was skeptical of the combination but I have so much butternut squash at home that I thought why not give it a shot! Well, shot I did and hit the mark I did, as well!

What we have is a sweet, cheesy dish that is a hardy as mac and cheese. Try it out for yourself!

1 small butternut squash
12 ounces elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
4 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted into the flesh meets no resistance. Scoop 2 cups of flesh from the squash and puree it in a blender or food processor. Reduce oven to 400 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add about a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s tender. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the flour. 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. Add the cheeses, ½ teaspoon table salt, and the squash, stirring until the cheese melts.
4. Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir thoroughly. Stir in the eggs. Pour into 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

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