One-Pot Stovetop Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

This fall, I was completely inundated with butternut squash in my CSA share. Initially, I made our family favorite butternut squash recipes including Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto and Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta– yum. I also have several new ones to share!

The recipe for this one-pot comfort food dish was adapted from Food52.com, contributed by Jesse Szewczyk. The sauce was super creamy and subtly sweet from the squash.

Decadent and delicious- an upgrade to the classic.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (about 1 pound) peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh sage leaves (from about 12 leaves)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups warm water, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 12-ounce can) full-fat evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound dried pasta, such as medium-sized shells or elbow macaroni (I used rigatoni)
  • 12 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about 2/3 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • toasted breadcrumbs, for topping prior to serving, optional
  1. Peel, seed, and cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the squash and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until tender enough to smash with a spatula without much resistance and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rosemary, sage, and garlic and cook, stirring often, just until the garlic is aromatic and no longer raw, about 1 minute.
  5. Increase the heat to high and add the warm water, evaporated milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. (The pasta won’t be completely covered by the liquid.)
  6. Boil over medium (even reducing to medium-low if necessary) heat, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and about two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes (al dente). If at any point the liquid evaporates before the pasta is tender, add additional warm water (1/2 cup at a time- did once after 12 min) and continue cooking.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and add both cheeses. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and has emulsified into a creamy sauce.
  8. Let the pasta sit for 10 minutes. (This is necessary to allow the sauce to thicken.) If the sauce becomes too thick, adjust the consistency by adding additional warm water 1/4 cup at a time.
  9. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately with more black pepper and parmesan, if desired.
  10. Top with toasted breadcrumbs, if desired.

Tres Leches Cake

I made this incredibly moist sponge cake for dessert after our Cinco de Mayo feast this year. It would be perfect served after any Mexican-inspired meal.

The recipe was adapted from my food blog friend Ronit Penso’s Tasty Eats blog, originally posted as a round cake on MySliceofMexico.ca. I modified the method and the baking time for a convection oven, used sea salt and a combination of vanilla bean paste and extract, and modified the amount of topping.

Although I reduced the amount of topping, we found that it was absolutely essential. I also thought that the fresh strawberry garnish made it even more beautiful and delicious. Festive and great.

For the Cake:

  • cooking oil spray, for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 7 large or extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Syrup:

  • 1 can (12 fl oz/354 ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz/396grms) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9”x13” (23×33 cm) metal baking pan, and dust with a bit of flour. Turn the pan upside down and tap on it, to get rid of excess flour. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk with the vanilla bean paste. Set aside.
  5. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Start whipping on low speed and gradually add the sugar.
  6. Once the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until frothy and thick, about 3 minutes.
  7. Lower the speed to medium. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the liquid ingredients (milk/vanilla), in three batches, and beat shortly, about 10 seconds, after each addition. You should have a smooth and frothy batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes on convection, or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, until the cake is deep golden in color and if you gently press on the top it springs right back. The sides should also begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. (I baked mine for 27 minutes on convection.)
  10. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the syrup.
  11. In a bowl with a spout, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.
  12. Prick the top of the cake with a toothpick or fork.
  13. Pour the syrup over the top of the cake. Keep at room temperature until all of the syrup is absorbed.
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. (I chilled mine overnight.)
  15. Just before serving, make the topping. In a large cold bowl, combine the cold heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  16. Whip with a hand blender on medium-high to high speed, until firm peaks form, or as desired. (I stopped whipping the cream somewhere between soft and firm peaks.)
  17. To Serve: Slice cake and top each slice with a dollop of topping and a sliced strawberry.

Vanilla Flan

After gobbling up a double batch of chips and guacamole followed by Sam Sifton’s Middle School Tacos, we ate this flan as our celebratory Cinco de Mayo dessert this year.

A while ago, my son read a book that mentioned flan and he really wanted to make it. We actually made it together at that time. 🙂  It really is quite simple to prepare, and he felt like he had achieved a great accomplishment when it came out well. He’s been asking to have it again ever since!

I think that it is particularly delicious served with strawberries. This recipe is a blend of multiple flan recipes- including one from my grandmother.

Yield: One 8-inch flan

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat can be substituted)
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • strawberries, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, occasionally swirling, until amber, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 qt (8-in) ceramic baking dish or 8-in cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom surface and halfway up the sides of the dish.
  5. Place the prepared dish on a dish towel or a silicone pot holder (to prevent it from shifting) inside a roasting pan. (I used an enameled cast iron lasagna pan.)
  6. Place the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix. Blend for 20 seconds. (Alternatively, mixture can be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
  7. Pour through a fine strainer into the prepared pan.
  8. Slide the oven rack out and place the roasting pan on the hot rack.
  9. Fill the outside of the pan with HOT water halfway up the sides of the flan dish.
  10. Bake for 60-70+ minutes, or until the center is wobbly.
  11. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
  12. Remove flan from the water bath. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  13. Dip the bottom of the dish in warm water, then invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve.

One Year Ago: Cheesy Enchilada Skillet

Two Years Ago: Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

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Five Years Ago:

Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

IMG_0702

I may have overdone it… I made Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread for breakfast and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake for dessert on the SAME DAY…. BUT, I have never made a “dump cake” (or heard of a “dump cake”) and I really wanted to try this one! 🙂 A “dump” cake is named for its simple preparation- dumping ingredients into a bowl, stirring, pouring into a pan and then coating with toppings prior to baking. The bottom layer of the cake is custardy and the top crunchy- great.

I knew that this “pumpkin-overload” in my menu planning was okay when my son called this cake “heaven on a plate.” My husband said that it was the best pumpkin dessert he had ever had! What rave reviews!! 🙂 This recipe was adapted from AllRecipes, via Nancy Creative. It is a wonderful autumn dessert and would be a great part of a Thanksgiving menu as well. We ate it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Yield: Makes one 9 x 13-inch cake

IMG_0690

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16.5 oz.) package yellow cake mix (or use spice cake mix) (I used Dunkin Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • salted caramel sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, mix pumpkin, light brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt, blending well. Stir in the evaporated milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle all of the dry yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle the chopped pecans and then the toffee bits evenly over top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over everything.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes (on convection) or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven, until edges are lightly browned (it may be a little soft in the center, but will set as it cools; also, the cake may sink slightly as it cools). Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. You can serve just as it is or with a dollop of whipped cream. (maybe even a drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top if you really want to make it decadent!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

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