food amongst family and friends

Vanessa’s Squash Mac & Cheese – Sort of October 14, 2011

Filed under: Ham,Mains,Pasta,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 4:21 pm
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I really did set out to make this exactly as the recipe stated, which is unusual for me, but I had just received my very own copy of my friend Vanessa’s cookbook, which she has spent countless hours putting together, and I was excited to pick a recipe and run with it. I had also just picked up my second to last CSA bundle, which contained what I thought was a nice, smallish spaghetti squash, so I thought I could make her Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese, and just sub the spaghetti squash in. But then I didn’t have macaroni, I only had fusilli, and I didn’t have ricotta cheese or regular breadcrumbs (and I was too lazy to make my own), plus I had a bunch of broccoli that needed to be used up, as well as some leftover ham. So I finally determined that I would sub in what I could, skip the ricotta entirely this time, use Panko breadcrumbs, and add in some ham and broccoli to round out the meal.  And then I cut into my ‘spaghetti squash’ to find this:

If anyone knows what the heck kind of squash that is, please, let me know.

Regardless, the meal was a success; it was tasty and surprisingly filling and the girls loved it without me having to sell them on the merits of squash. Plus it made enough for a meal of leftovers for after swimming, which makes me happy. So thanks Vanessa, and congratulations on your cookbook, I can tell it is one we will be getting a lot of use out of!

1 small butternut squash (or, apparently, whatever kind of winter squash you happen to have handy), peeled, seeded, and diced

1 cup vegetable broth (I used bouillion, as I didn’t have any broth)

1 1/2 cups of milk

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of whole wheat pasta (I think rigatoni, penne, or something heavier like that would be best)

4 oz extra sharp cheddar (I used an old white one)

4 Tbsp grated parmesan (divided)

1/2 cup part – skim ricotta (I skipped this, but will try it next time)

2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs

1 tsp olive oil

Broccoli florets, about 1 1/2 cups, steamed (optional)

1/2 cup finely diced, cooked ham (optional)

1. Combine squash, stock and milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce heat to medium and cook until squash is fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your squash.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just barely al dente, maybe even a little firmer (it will cook a bit more in the oven), then drain, rinse with cold water, and return to pot.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a 3 quart casserole dish. Puree squash mixture, using either an immersion blender or an old school one. Add puree to pasta along with the salt, pepper, cayenne, cheddar, ricotta and half the parmesan. If using the broccoli and ham, add now as well. Give everything a good stir, then dump into the casserole dish.

4. Stir together the remainder of the parmesan, bread crumbs, and olive oil, then sprinkle over top of the pasta. Give the top a good salt and pepper as well, then bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Feeds 6 hungry people or 8 moderately hungry people.




Ham Rotini Bake (aka ‘Cause fat tastes good pasta dish) September 29, 2011

Filed under: Ham,Pasta,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:34 am
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Ham rotini bakeWhen I was a kid, I could never understand why my grandma’s cooking always tasted so much better than mine.  I mean, I get the obvious things, like her chicken and molly, or her perogies, but her toast?  Come on.  It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I discovered her secret: fat.  She’d slather toast with butter, and deep fry her potato pancakes, and bake her perogies in a heart-stopping amount of butter mixed with onions.  So while I still cut calorie corners for many things (such as not adding butter to cooked veggies, and substituting yogurt for sour cream), I like a good dollop of fat every once in a while.  And this has it, let me tell you.  This is my doubled recipe, which served 3 of us for two meals.


2 c uncooked rotini
2 1/3 c milk
4 T butter
1/4 c unbleached flour
2 t chicken base (I used Better than Bullion)
1 t each salt and pepper
4 pressed garlic cloves
1 c cooked, diced ham
1 c shredded parmesan
1 1/2 c plain, thick yogurt (I used Liberté Méditerranée)

Pre-heat oven to 400°C.  Cook rotini until slightly undercooked.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt butter, adding flour to make a smooth roux.  Gradually add milk, chicken base,  salt, pepper and garlic. Mix well and bring to a slow simmer, stirring until thick and bubbly.  Reduce heat and add ham, parmesan and yogurt.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Add the drained pasta, mix and bake in oven until heated through – about 15 min.  Cheers!  Ren

Ham rotini bake