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

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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.

Skillet Mac and Cheese + Sauteed Kale + Basil Broccoli

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Rainy days cause macaroni and cheese. This particular recipe seems to have a lot of steps and ingredients, but it comes together quickly and is my favorite mac and cheese creation. There are endless places this recipe could differ, depending on your cheese, vegetable and pasta collection you may end up with a totally different dish. Wherever you take this, remember the lemon juice and the chili pepper flakes because of the dimension of flavor they bring to the dish. This recipe made enough to fill two small cast iron skillets.

Skillet Mac and Cheese + Sauteed Kale + Basil Broccoli
3 cups brown rice penne pasta
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 leaves cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale, stems removed and chopped
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
8 small broccoli heads, diced
2 tsp dried basil
A pinch of thyme
1/2 cup stale or oven dried bread made into crumbs (I used oat molasses bread my roommate made a few days ago and dried it out in the oven)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup good cheddar cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
sea salt
pepper
lemon juice
olive oil + butter
Goat cheese and queso fresco or cheese of your choice

Method:

Heat 5 cups of salted water in a large pot and cook until al dente.

In a separate skillet, heat a tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil together. Add the shallots, saute for a few moments, then add the garlic and the chili pepper flakes. Finally add the kale. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt. Cook on medium, covered, until the kale is wilted and the shallots and garlic are slightly crisped and golden.

In another pan heat the milk, heavy cream, cheese, paprika, sea salt, pepper and butter. Watch this carefully and remove when the cheese is mostly melted. Mix this cheese mixture with the cooked pasta.

Drizzle another skillet with olive oil and add the broccoli, drizzle with lemon juice, and then add the basil, bread crumbs and thyme.

To assemble to macaroni and cheese, lightly butter a cast iron skillet, spoon in some pasta, mix in some of the kale, then top with the broccoli, basil bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a little bit of goat cheese and queso fresco on top and finish with a grind of sea salt and pepper. Broil on high heat until the cheese is browned and crisped.

Quinoa Macaroni with Gruyere, Cheddar + Parmesan

The new Edible Reno-Tahoe Cooks! edition had me thinking about macaroni and cheese before I went to sleep, so today around mid-afternoon I was really craving the comfort food. The recipe in the magazine looked delicious, with shrimp and pancetta, but I didn’t have those ingredients on hand so my mac n cheese was a little bit simpler.

Macaroni and Cheese
¼ lb quinoa macaroni
1 small onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
½ cup heavy cream; if you have white wine add a ¼ cup of that too (I didn’t have any on hand)
2 cups cheese: you can use a variety of different cheeses, I used gruyere, cheddar and parmesan
Fresh cracked black pepper
sea salt
red pepper flakes
olive oil
½ cup bread crumbs

Method:

[Adapted from Cooks!] Oven 350. Cook the pasta according to the instructions. While the water’s boiling, sauté the onions on medium high heat in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic, cook for about a minute, and then add the flour. Stir the flour in, add the wine and let it cook down if you have it, then add the cream. Let this simmer for about five minutes, remove from heat and stir in the cheese until it is just melted. Add a few grinds of black pepper, sea salt and red pepper flakes.

For the breadcrumbs I just baked two slices of sprouted bread, then chopped them into breadcrumbs. Place the pasta in ovenproof dishes, and then add the cheese mixture on top. Place the bread crumbs and extra parmesan on top and bake until the top is browned, about 20 minutes.
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