Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Post and Salutations!

Hello food blogging community!  Welcome to my first post: Butternut Squash with Bacon Mac and Cheese!

I think this particular recipe is appropriate for the occasion.  As my title would suggest, I'm relatively new to the food scene.  I began cooking in about the last year or so, when I was booted off the student meal plan.  Since then I've made some really good (and bad!) food.

Anyway, this is my first time preparing butternut squash (although I have dealt with some of it's cousins), making it an ideal first time.

I decided upon this recipe after browsing the internets for various versions of the dish.  In my opinion this one is very good, however, I think next time I'll make a few adjustments by the way of increasing the amount of cheese sauce.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash with Bacon Mac and Cheese

1 small- medium butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
6 strips of bacon
1 medium yellow onion
16 ounces whole wheat penne (you could really use whatever you want)
2 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup flour
6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp onion powder

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and chop your butternut squash into approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Remember, pretty pieces = even cooking!  Next, toss the squash with the tbsp of oil and then salt and pepper and move to a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes.

2.  While the squash is roasting, cook your bacon until crisp and small dice the onion. Remove bacon and grease from pan, leaving approx. 1 tbsp of grease behind.  In the remaining grease saute the onion until softened, seasoning with s&p and a dash of cayenne.

3.  Boil salted water and cook penne until al dente.

4.  In a small sauce pan off heat, slowly mix the flour and milk.  I usually start out with about a tbsp of flour and a fourth of a cup of milk, adding more as the flour is dissolved.  When the flour and milk are well mixed turn on the heat, and let simmer until thickened.  Remove sauce from heat and slowly mix in the cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese is well incorporated, give it a taste and season with s&p, cayenne, and onion powder.  The onion powder may seem like an odd choice, but it really intensifies the cheesiness of the sauce.

5.  Once the squash is done roasting, remove from baking sheet.  Turn the oven up to 450.  Toss together with the penne, bacon (crumbled into pieces), and onions.  Pour into a 13x9 casserole and spread evenly.  Pour cheese sauce over and mix until well combined.  Sprinkle mixture of parmesan and panko over the top.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4-6.

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