Acorn Squash Mac n’ Cheese + Manchego + Kale + Garlic

IMG_1583IMG_1595IMG_1605
Of all the usual ingredients for mac n’ cheese, the only thing I really had was pasta. I was out of cream and gruyere, and I had no bread crumbs. So this came together and it was by far the best mac n’ cheese dish I’ve made. The squash gives it a sweetness and richness, so you don’t need as much cheese and cream. The spices are important, the lavender is just hint of floral, and the cayenne balances out the sweetness. You can use any type of squash or cheese, and mix up the veggies on top. This is the perfect dish after spending the day playing in the snow.

Acorn Squash Mac n’ Cheese + Manchego + Kale + Garlic

1 acorn squash, roasted
1 box quinoa blend organic mac n’ cheese pasta (Ancient Harvest)
¾ cup milk
¼ cup parmesan cheese, cut into chunks
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Santa Fe Lavender Spice
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Herbes de Provence
½ tsp cayenne
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large leafy pieces of kale, stems removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Lemon juice

Method: 

Oven 400. Cut the acorn squash in half and face flesh side down in a baking pan filled with ½ inch of water. Roast until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the squash and let it cool before handling.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in sea salted water.
Remove the seeds from the squash and scrape the soft cooked insides into a blender. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Add this mix to a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring, and add the spices and salt. Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Turn the heat off.
In a separate skillet, heat the butter. Add the garlic and kale and squeeze some lemon juice on top, cover and sauté for five minutes on medium-high heat.
Place another ½ tbsp of butter in a small skillet, and heat in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter is melted. Spoon the mac n’ cheese mix into the skillet, and top with the garlic-kale mix, a few thinly sliced pieces of manchego, and a grind of sea salt and pepper. Cook until the kale is slightly crisped, about 10-15 minutes.

Bacon + Green Bean + Pesto Pizza with Fresh Cilantro

IMG_1563IMG_1562

IMG_1575
It’s been a wintery fall and during this season I tend to make the same kinds of foods. Pizzas, soups, Tikka Masala in the crock pot, and ginger snap cookies. I made the pizza dough on a Sunday night and let it rise in the fridge overnight. I broke it into balls and made pizza a few times during the week. This last pizza I made was a few days after I made the dough. I was nearly out of all of my pizza toppings and it was by far the tastiest pizza. It had better flavor, and the dough was chewy and formed bubbles. If you give your dough a little longer to rise and don’t use it immediately, it will be better. Also, if you don’t have a pizza stone, go get one. They are cheap, and make all the difference.

Pizza Dough
 (adapted from Alice Waters “The Art of Simple Food”)

2 tsp dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
3 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
¾ cup cold water
¼ cup olive oil

Stir the yeast, warm water, and ½ cup of flour together and let sit until bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Mix the remaining 3 ¼ cups of flour with the salt, stir this into the yeast mixture and add the cold water and olive oil. Knead on a floured board for five minutes. I follow Waters expert advice here and let my dough rise overnight in the fridge, covered. You can also let it rise for two hours on your counter top. If you do let it rise overnight, be sure to take it out two hours before you want to start working with it so it’s pliable.

Toppings (for 1 pizza)

1 tbsp pesto
½ white onion chopped
2 slices of bacon, chopped. (Niman Ranch Bacon)
1 small handful green beans, ends cut off, chopped
4 anchovies pulled apart
Fresh mozzarella
Parmesan
Sea salt
Butter
Cilantro
Olive oil
Cornmeal

Oven 500*. Place your pizza stone in the oven and allow it to get nice and hot. Roll out a fist sized ball of dough as thin as you can on a floured surface. Set the dough aside. Heat a skillet to medium-high, add a tbsp of butter, and saute the onions and green beans for a few minutes, or until softened. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook for a few more minutes. Do not crisp the bacon.
Take your pizza stone out of the oven, sprinkle it with cornmeal, and place your dough on it. Spoon a thin layer of pesto on the dough, followed by the onion-green bean-bacon mix, add a few globs of fresh mozzarella and some shavings of Parmesan. Put apart the anchovies and add to the pizza. Add a sprinkle of sea salt to the pizza and place in the oven. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, and then broil until crisp for the last minute or two.
Pull the pizza out, drizzle with good olive oil (I love Bariani) and add a handful of fresh cilantro. The pizza can also be served with a farm fresh fried egg on top. Enjoy mixing up the toppings and eat it right off of the pizza stone!
IMG_1578