S is for Shells & Squash

s-is-for-shells-and-squash

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving eating all the good foods and spending time with their families! I enjoyed joining my family in the kitchen and cooking a meal that was meant for way more than one person šŸ™‚ As I cannot get enough of comfort food and do not think it should be reserved for one day a year, I bring you squash and shells for the letter S!

This recipe plays off of your basic macaroni and cheese and elevatesĀ it with squash and of course bacon! The blended squash lends a creaminess to the cheese sauce and gives it a lovely pop of color. Butternut squash is also a great source of vitamin A and potassium so step aside boxed macaroni and cheese, there’s new dish in town!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium pasta shells, uncooked
  • 1 Ā½ cups cubed butternut squash (many grocery stores sell this pre-cubed that can be cooked directly in the package which helps save on prep time)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Ā¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • Ā½ cup and 2 tablespoons sharp cheddar cheese
  • Ā½ teaspoon paprika
  • ā…› teaspoon spicy brown mustard (dijon mustard can be used as a substitute)
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, diced (I store bacon in the freezer separated between layers of parchment paper to allow for the ease of adding a slice or two to a recipe)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Prepping the Dish

  • Depending on the form that you purchased your butternut squash in, there will be two different routes of prep you can take:
  • If you purchased pre-cubed squash that can be steamed directly in the package, cook the squash according to the directions on the package.
  • If you purchased a whole butternut squash, peel, remove the seeds and cube the squash. You will then need to boil the squash until tender.
  • While the squash is cooking, cook your pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  • Drain the pasta and set aside in a bowl.
  • Using the heated pot that the pasta was cooked in, melt the butter; turn the stove on low heat if additional heat is needed to melt the butter completely.
  • Add the cooked squash, melted butter, dash of salt and pepper, vegetable broth, paprika, milk and mustard to your blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  • PutĀ the noodles back into the pot and pour in the butternut squash sauce.
  • Add the cheese and diced bacon and stir until the cheese has been fully encorporated and melted throughout.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with parsely and dig in!

Recipe heavily inspired from The Recipe Critic

B is for Butternut Squash Soup

B is for Butternut Squash Soup

Chilly weather means soup is a staple in my weekly dinner rotation. Most of the soups I make are broth-based using up whatever veggies I have leftover in the fridge with the addition of a protein. One soup that I enjoy when eating out is butternut squash soup; it immediately comforts me and reminds me of all things Winter. Now that we are enjoying cloudy days, today’s post is brought to you by the letter B for Butternut Squash Soup!

I had never worked with butternut squash before, but cutting it and scooping out the seeds was similar to spaghetti squash or a pumpkin without the stringiness pulp which made the taskĀ even easier. While the butternut squash baked, my kitchen was filled with a sweetness and almost dove right in with a fork and skipped the soup altogether! Restraining myself, I followed through with the rest of the recipe and the result was a velvet soup with a slight kick thanks to the cayenne pepper. The creaminess the baked squash lends to the soup is heavenĀ and forgoes theĀ need to add heavy cream, keeping the soup low in calories without detracting from the main essence that makes this soup so amazing.

Because of the thick consistency of this soup, it also great for dipping! You can toast up some crostinis or enjoy with my personal favorite, grilled cheese dippers. As grilled cheese is one of my favorite foods, I experiment with it all the time. My current personal favorite combination is white cheddar, thinly sliced apples, and fig jam. Mmmmmmm!Ā The sweetness from the apple and fig jam add a nice balance to this savory soup.

Happy souping and dipping readers!

Ingredients (Recipe yield: 4 generous bowls of soup)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large shallot bulb, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 32 ounces vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Special equipment: blender or food processor

Soup Steps

  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Cut the butternut squash in half vertically and scrape out the seeds.
  • Rub 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on the inside and outside of each squash half and sprinkle with salt and pepper on the inside.
  • Place squash faceĀ down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
    • The squash will have some juice run-off so it is important that the baking sheet you use as a slight rim to prevent a mess in your oven!
  • Bake the squash for 50 minutes until it is tender. To check for tenderness, the squash should be soft when pierced with a fork.
  • Remove the squash from oven and allow to cool slightly so that it is easier to work with.
    • Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the cooked squash into a medium bowl and toss outĀ the skin.
  • While the squash is cooling, heat the remaining olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat and cook the minced shallots with 1 teaspoon of salt stirring occasionally until they are soft and starting to slightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute stirring constantly.
  • Remove the cooked shallots and garlic from the heat and add them to the bowl with the squash and stir slightly to evenly distribute.
  • Put half of the squash mixture into your food processor or blender with a half teaspoon of maple syrup and 12 ounces of the vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and blend until combined. Transfer the blended soupĀ to your soup pot.
  • Repeat the above step with the remaining squash mixture, a half teaspoon of maple syrup, 12 ounces of vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • Once all of the blended soup has been added to your soup pot, whisk in the remaining 8 ounces of vegetable broth, ground nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and ground pepper to taste.
  • Heat the soup over low heat whisking occasionally for 30 minutes and enjoy!
    • As this soup makes more than one serving, you can freeze the soup for later enjoyment or invite a friend over to share!
  • Serving suggestion: I served my soup with white cheddar, apple and fig jam grilled cheese dippers.

***Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate