Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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I think I eat about twice as much mac n cheese as a normal human being should.  Whenever the mac n cheese food truck is even remotely near my office I can’t resist.  It’s just one of those foods that pretty much always sounds good to me.

This week a lone butternut squash was the only farm basket ingredient we had left to use by Sunday, so I was searching for something creative and relatively simple to do with it.  This recipe satisfied the need to use up the squash, and eat something cheesy and carby.  I was afraid adding squash to such a comfort food type of dish would end up kind of strange, but it’s actually not weird at all!

The one thing no one seems to mention about cooking with squash is how difficult it is to cut!  I mean I know I’m pretty weak but I still think cutting open a squash qualifies as a days work out.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese
1 medium butternut squash
3/4 box of small pasta (elbows or shells work best)
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush the insides with olive oil a bit of salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast for about 45 minutes, until tender.

2. When your squash is cooked, lower the oven to 350 and let the squash cool for a bit. Carefully scoop out the insides of the squash, being sure not to get any of the skin.

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3. Cook your pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  When it’s cooked add it to a large oven pan

4. In a large saucepan melt the butter on medium – low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk continuously. Next add your heavy cream and continue to stir.  Then add the cheese and the squash and continue stirring until the cheese has melted and everything is combined.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Pour the cream sauce over the cooked pasta and top with breadcrumbs.

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6. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, enjoy!

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Corn and Cheddar Biscuits

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You know when you make something so good that you never want to eat the last bite?  Well, that’s how I feel about these biscuits.  We ate all but one of them the night I made them, and the next night I made them again, they are that good.  Best of all, they’re really quick to make, so you can throw them together as often as you want!  They also make for great breakfast sandwiches!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I end up making something with cheese, I can’t help but indulge myself along the way.  While cutting up the cheese for these, it went something like, one slice for me, one slice to add to the biscuits.  Oh well, that’s the best part of baking right?

In my second batch I added some chopped leeks that I had to the batter.  You could also try some green onions or very finely chopped red onion.  Also, feel free to switch up the cheeses and use fresh corn if you have it.

ImageCorn and Cheddar Biscuits adapted from Food Network

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cold butter cut into cubes
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese chopped into cubes or shredded
1/4 cup monterrey jack with jalapenos cheese chopped into cubes or shredded
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 cup canned corn

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees photo (38)

2. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl. Add in the butter and either work it in with your fingers or use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until it forms small clumps.

3. Add the cheese, thyme, cayenne and corn. Slowly add the milk until combined into a dough.

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4. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Don’t have a biscuit cutter – me either! Just use the top of a round cup, that works just as well.

5. Continue rolling out dough and cutting out rounds until you’ve used all the dough you can.

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6. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush a little over each round.

6. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until they just begin to brown.

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Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

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Once in awhile I get ambitious and try to make some kind of Turkish food.  We ate so many great things in Turkey and my mother in law makes some great food that you just can’t find here.  Lahmacun is a kind of Turkish pizza we would eat at my husbands house and almost everywhere we went in Turkey.  Lately I’ve found myself craving it quite often so I finally decided to give it a try.

The dough needs to be very thin and very soft so you can roll these up to eat them.  My attempts at traditional Turkish dishes haven’t been great, and I was almost certain my first attempt at this wouldn’t come out well.  I scoured a bunch of recipes trying to find to find what seemed like the right mix of ingredients and measurements that I wouldn’t have to convert.  I ended up using this Food Network recipe as a guideline but changed some things around to make these as close to what I remembered eating in Istanbul.

I have to say I impressed myself with the end product.  My husband who rarely likes Turkish food in the US loved them, so I knew they were good.  I’m sure I’ll be making these again soon.
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Note: This recipe calls for a pepper paste that is very difficult to find in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it I would suggest a jar of
tomato paste seasoned with cayenne or red pepper.

Lahmacun adapted from Food Network
Dough:
3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 T dried mint
1 T cumin
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra to add before eating
olive oil for pan

1. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of stand mixer and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the dough ingredients to the bowl and mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, until it forms ball.

2. Remove the dough ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

3. While the dough is rising begin to make the filling. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the ground beef, cook until the beef is cooked through. Add the cooked beef and the rest of the filling ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.

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4. When the dough had risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball, cover and let rise for another 15 minutes.

5. One at a time roll each ball out on a floured surface until very very thin. When you think it’s think you’ve rolled them out thin enough, keep going a bit more. I found it was easier to add the rolled out dough to the pizza stone and then add the filling. You could also add the filling and then put it on the stone but I am clumsy and know I would end up dropping it.

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6. Cook each lahmacun for 6-8 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on each one before eating, enjoy!
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Quick and Easy Onion Tart

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This weekend I was craving something salty, crunchy and cheesy.  But, I was also feeling a bit lazy and really didn’t want to spend a lot of time preparing something.  This onion tart uses one of my favorite “cheat” ingredients – puff pastry.  You pretty much can’t go wrong with puff pastry, everyone loves it, it’s super quick and always come out great. I used Boursin cheese in my tart since it happened to be on sale this week and it’s easy to spread, but you could use anything you like is either soft and spreads easily or melts well.  This quick and easy tart was the perfect Sunday afternoon snack and would be great as an appetizer.    I’d love to hear if any of you have a favorite recipe that uses puff pastry – let me know!

Quick and Easy Onion Tart
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
2 medium yellow onions
3 T Boursin cheese
2 t olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Slice the onions into thin strips and cook in a large pan with the olive oil on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. While the onions are cooking prepare your puff pastry. Add some flour to a baking sheet to prevent the pastry from sticking. Place the puff pastry on the pan and poke it all over with the tines of a fork.
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3. Spread the cheese in a thin layer over the puff pastry, leaving about an inch empty around the edges.

4. When the onions have cooked until they’re translucent add them on top of the cheese.

5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry and use fork to seal them. 

6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until the puff pastry just starts to brown, enjoy!
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Butternut Squash Ravioli

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Homemade pasta is one of my all time favorite foods.  I feel like a person can never fully appreciate eating homemades until they understand that work that goes into making them.  Not that it’s hard, but definitely time consuming and patience requiring.  I’ve only attempted to make ravioli one other time and that was a complete disaster that scarred me for awhile.  I had a grand plan for an entirely homemade meal.  I was making the ravioli, making the ricotta for the filling and of course making the sauce.  Four hours later, I had a pot full of ricotta that tasted like scrambled eggs, a burnt pot of sauce and and a table full of pasta sheets that had become too brittle to cut into any shape.

I guess I’ve finally emotionally recovered from this event since I had the courage to give home made raviolis a second try this weekend.  I had a gigantic butternut squash that had to be used, so  I decided to make a very simple filling out of that.  Instead of the typical brown butter sage sauce I opted for herbs that I like a bit more.  I’m pleased to say that this attempt was much more successful. I know this recipe is long and daunting to look at, but it’s really not difficult, just a little time consuming but totally worth it for the outcome!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Pasta Dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

**A quick note on the eggs: normally I would only use 4-5 eggs for 4 cups of flour but the eggs I had were pretty small so I added an extra, if you’re using larger eggs you shouldn’t need as many

1. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and push most of it out to the sides to create a well

2. Crack the eggs in a bowl and add them to the middle of the well of flour

3. Using the dough hook begin to mix the eggs into the flour and salt, when they’ve started to combine drizzle in the olive oil

4. Let the mixer go until the dough has formed into a ball, remove the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes

5. After the dough has rested, break it into 6 smaller pieces and start running it through your pasta maker until it reaches the desired thickness – since you’ll be filling the dough you don’t want to go all the way to the last setting as it makes the pasta more likely to break. My machine tops out at 9 and I stopped running my dough through at 7

Butternut Squash Filling:
**You’ll want to have your squash mixture ready before you being to roll your pasta sheets out to avoid them drying out too much to cut
1 medium butternut squash (the squash pictured here is quite large, I only used half of it for the filling), seeds removed and cut into 4 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cheese of your choice – I used pecorino romano but I think goat cheese would be excellent in thisphoto (22)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine the olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and brush the mixture all over the squash pieces

2. Roast the squash in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until you an easily stick a fork in it

3. In a bowl, mash up the cooked squash and let it sit until it has cooled

4. Add the heavy cream, cinnamon, cheese and mix together

Assemble and cook the pasta:
1. Take one pasta sheet and add a small amount of the mixture about every 1 1/2 inchesphoto (23)

2. Lay another pasta sheet over that one and push together the top and bottom parts of the dough that surround the mixture to seal the pasta
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3. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the shapes, if you don’t have a ravioli cutter you can use the opening of a small cup or a cookie cutter

4. Once they’re all cut out, cook them in small batches for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water, they should float to the top when they’re cooked

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Herbed Brown Butter Sauce:
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepperphoto (26)
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, still it while melting until it starts to brown

2. Add herbs and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes

3. Top the raviolis with the sauce, some extra cheese and whatever else you like (I added some green onions) and enjoy!