Ever aiming to squeeze more vegetables into my family, I have been experimenting with augmenting macaroni and cheese.
A basic cheese sauce is actually not that much harder to make than reconstituting one from a pouch. I was quite annoyed when I figured that one out! Yes, you make a roux, but it’s just some whisking really. Nothing to panic about.
Butternut squash seemed like a perfect candidate for the added veg as the colour was right, but so often recipes I tried with squash would turn out too fibrous or too watery. Roasting rather than boiling the squash, and pureeing the life out of it, seems to have solved those problems. Finally, I don’t like crumb on top of my macaroni cheese, but by all means, add some breadcrumbs on top and broil for a few minutes until brown.
Macaroni cheese with sneaky butternut squash
- 1 butternut squash
- Olive oil
- 500g shaped pasta, like macaroni, penne, bowties
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 heaping tsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 60g shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, brush with olive oil. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until very soft. Let cool for 10 minutes, or until you can handle it with a hot mitt.
3. Scoop out squash flesh with a spoon and transfer to food processor or powerful blender. Process for 2-3 minutes until squash is baby food consistency. Press through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon if you can still see fibres. Put 1 cup of pureed squash in a small bowl, store the rest for another use.
4. Put a pot of water on to boil, prepare pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta and return to pot.
5. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour one spoon at a time, whisking constantly. Add milk a splash at a time, whisking to incorporate.
6. Add squash puree to white sauce, and whisk until smooth. Add more milk if sauce is too thick.
7. Tip in the cheeses, whisking to melt the cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Take pan off the heat.
8. Pour sauce over pasta and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Serve with more parmesan cheese on top.
I know, I know, I can hear you from here. Really Erin, kale in MEATBALLS? What’s wrong with you?
Like most people, we don’t eat enough vegetables, which means I put extra veg in everything. It’s my goal this year to eat more vegetables, so whenever I’m making something there’s always a moment when I say: ‘Can I put kale in this?’
Use your food processor to chop the kale very, very fine. By the time it’s mixed in with everything else, you can’t even taste it. I would say use pretty much any combination of beef, pork, buffalo, venison, moose – but I don’t think this would hold together with turkey or chicken. I find it quite hard to get poultry meatballs to stick together without adding loads more fat, which defeats the purpose really.
These are great in lunchboxes with a little container of ketchup for dipping, in a tomato sauce with pasta, in the fridge as a quick protein snack. For some reason, my son loves meatballs, so it’s my go-to when he’s been refusing other protein. I don’t know what it is with kids and round foods, but it seems to go over well.
Read the recipe for my kale meatballs over on Treehouse Parents.
I have this problem with ice cream: so much of it is full of crap. Thickeners, preservatives, artificial flavours. Blergh. The gelato place near our apartment is no better, unfortunately. At home, I’ve come to grips with making our own ice cream with a machine I bought off craigslist (it’s the land of ice cream makers) and David Lebovitz‘s incredible book, [amazon_link id=”158008219X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Perfect Scoop[/amazon_link].
Some days, though, I don’t want to make my own. I just want someone to hand me a lovely scoop of ice cream. Earnest Ice Cream is a local company, best known for their cute bicycle ice cream carts. Now they have their own scoop shop on Fraser Street – I wrote about it for VancouverMom.ca.
I love that their menu is just ice cream and coffee. The coffee is from Matchstick Roasters down the road.
And you can pick up their pint jars as well.
I love food carts. I’m not sure why I find them so terrific, but there’s something amazing about being handed something incredible down from a vehicle. Maybe it’s the standing outside part? The way four of them in a row in any given place creates an instant festive feeling? I don’t know, but I’m keen.
When the Food Cart Fest announced its new location literally down the road from me, I was one part excited, one part dismayed. Last year I was very anxious to check out the Fest, but it was quickly apparent it was not at all built for families. Which is, you know, fine. I’m a-okay with not everything catering to my particular life-stage. But it seemed like they missed a trick, surely it would make sense to make it a bit more family friendly. This year, it was advertised as such, but after talking to friends and neighbours who had been, it seemed a little perfunctory. I’m happy they tried, and I have high hopes for next year. We collected advice and headed down there, and had a surprisingly good time. So I decided to pass on the collected wisdom in a Family Guide to the Food Cart Fest over on VancouverMom.ca. Enjoy and eat lots of food.