A few months ago, The Bug started going to pre-school. Technically, since the isn’t even two, it is daycare, but I prefer to call it “pre-school” because it makes me feel like a less lame stay-at-home mom. I am sending him for educational purposes, not to get a bit of a break in order to get some
blog posting and photographing chores and errands done, without feeling like I am ignoring him or boring him. To tell you the truth, though, he loves it. Everyday he asks to go to school, and he is always talking about Miss Tracey and Miss Mia. He also loves the food. He will eat things at school that he won’t eat at home, like green beans. And they actually give the kids a pretty wide variety of foods, and a fruit and vegetable with lunch everyday. So really I can’t complain. But the one thing that they do have quite often is some form of pasta.
The Bug has had spaghetti and other pasta dishes before, but until I first ventured into gluten-free pasta (with this veggie tomato sauce recipe), we didn’t eat many noodles around here, other than spaghetti squash. Now, after having them so often and loving them at school, he can’t get enough “noodles”. He asks for them ALL.THE.TIME! So when The Hubby, said he was in the mood for macaroni & cheese with the roast chicken I made, I thought I should make him and The Bug happy, but I didn’t quite want to go with the super-cheesy fat-, calorie-, and cholesterol-bomb that mac & cheese usually is.
Katie from …and a glass of red wine posted a butternut squash mac & cheese that she made. Her version sounds awesome, but I wanted to just punch it up a bit, get rid of the flour, so that it could be gluten-free, and add a pop of color and a little more veggies. So I added a little parmesan and some peas, skipped the flour, and, in my case, used quinoa pasta. But you can use any type and shape of pasta you like. I just think mac & cheese is so classic with elbow macaroni. And I baked it, because I LOVE baked macaroni & cheese.
It was awesome! The Bug scarfed up plates and plates of it. But then again, he is yet to meet a noodle that he doesn’t like. And I wasn’t too upset that he wasn’t eating much chicken, since he was getting lots of protein from the quinoa pasta. By using extra sharp cheddar and good parmesan cheese, it definitely had that tang and cheesy flavor, and the butternut squash gave it the creaminess that you usually get from butter, flour, and whole milk. It isn’t quite as cheesy and gooey as your traditional macaroni & cheese, but it is still delicious and creamy, and a little bit healthier. This is even a good way to sneak in extra veggies for your picky eaters.
If we had bottomless stomachs, we probably could have finished it all, it was that good. But The Bug and I were happy to devour the leftovers for dinner last night, as part of our parade of leftovers this week.
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Do you try to sneak in extra healthy stuff for your kids (and significant others)? What is your favorite comfort food?
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 8 oz. box of quinoa or other gluten free-pasta, or half of a 1 lb. box of regular pasta
- 2-3 T chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 c milk (I used 1%)
- 1 T butter
- 1 t dry mustard
- 1½ c sharp or extra sharp cheddar
- ½ c parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ c frozen peas
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Steam the butternut squash until it is soft and can be mashed easily.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, leaving it slightly undercooked, or al dente.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the butternut squash with the broth, adding enough so that it becomes a smooth puree.
- In a large saucepan, combine the squash puree, milk and butter, and heat over medium heat until it just barely comes to a boil.
- Add the dry mustard, cheddar cheese, and ¼ c of the parmesan cheese, and stir until the cheese is fully melted and incorporated.
- Add the frozen peas, and salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce, and stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a glass or ceramic baking dish, and sprinkle the top with the remaining ¼ c parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and the top is slightly browned.
Recipe adapted from …and a glass of red wine.