Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese
I started a diet a few weeks ago. Not one of those you go on, and then go off of, but a real new lifestyle change. I made it a week, lost 5 lbs and then caught a nasty flu bug. Because I had a fever, I fed it, rested and gained back those 5 lbs as quickly as they fell off. Since I have been feeling better for about a week, I have went back on the diet and lost that 5 again. Hopefully next week I will have continued success.
For the main part of my diet change, I am just trying to manage portion control, and cravings when we eat at home and when we go out to eat. And I am also trying to add in 1 hour of physical activity a day. We eat out once or twice a week, and I always seem to overeat when we do. To help me manage, I found a new app for my iphone called Good Food. It lets you compare foods at almost every restaurant, even small chains that are local. And then for the few private restaurants that we go to (unfortunately they’re aren’t that many in Orlando) I ask the server what’s low calorie on the menu.
And to get moving a little more, I went bike shopping. I had intentions of getting a new shiny bike. And then I passed by the local pawn shop. As we passed by I spotted a car seat already mounted to a bike. I said to my husband, “Come on let’s just stop and look. I can get a bike with the toddler seat already attached and I won’t even have to change the seat for my son off my old bike.”
And then beside the old rusty bike with the toddler seat I spotted this, an old pink Schwinn. The little 80’s girl trapped inside started jumping for joy, especially when I noticed the white walls.
So I just couldn’t pass it up; it was a steal, and we got the guy to throw in another street bike for my husband for almost nothing because it had no brakes. But not to worry, my MacGyver husband had the brakes fixed within 5 minutes after he got it home. We both love the street bikes so much more than our old heavy mountain bikes.
And now for some mac n’cheese. This is a recipe that I adapted from Rachel Ray. It’s really easy and makes a great vegetarian dish paired with a simple salad for dinner.
Yield: Serves 4
Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese
1/2 a medium butternut squash, diced
2 tablespoons plus olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 lb macaroni
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dice butternut squash and place on a cooking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Times may vary according to the size of your butternut squash chunks.
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain well. Add butternut squash to food processor. Add about 1/2 cup or more of milk and turn on until squash is smooth.
Preheat a large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Melt butter in oil and add 2 tablespoons flour. Add salt and pepper. Add thyme if using dried. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, whisking constantly, or until flour mixture smells nutty. Add 2 cups milk and whisk in well. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. After sauce has thickened, turn heat to low and add in butternut squash mixture. Heat through until mixture is bubbly again.
Turn heat off and add in cheese. Whisk well until cheese is completely melted. Add macaroni back in and transfer to a casserole dish. If using fresh chopped thyme, add now. Top with bread crumbs. Place macaroni under broiler for a few minutes until bread crumbs are browned.