Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

This mac and cheese is veggie packed while still delightfully cheesey. Plus, the squash adds that iconic orange pop of color! This would be the perfect fuel before trick or treating!

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Mac & Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta
1 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (10 oz frozen, or 1/2 butternut squash, roasted)
2 tablespoons cream cheese
4 oz Velveeta mini-block
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the pasta in and cook until al dente.
In a large pot over medium heat, mix together the squash puree, velveeta, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Mac & Cheese
Stir until smooth and all combined. Spoon 1/2 – 3/4 of the sauce onto the drained al dente pasta.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Mac & Cheese
Mix well and add in more sauce, as desired.
Add in the shredded cheddar.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Mac & Cheese
Serve hot, or bake with cheese or breadcrumbs on top.

This was a good meal to feel like a treat, like true comfort food, without guilt. The little one loved it. I had some extra sauce so I froze it for a quick dinner another time to throw over some pasta.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

I was thinking about what convenience items are worth the spurge. I especially was thinking about it while trying to get the knife through some butternut squashes. Those suckers are definitely tough to cut so it can be your call if you want to save some dollars and halve the squash yourself, orrrr if you want to pay to get it all skinned and chopped. I cut through them but didn’t peal before roasting. It was super easy to scoop it out once they were cooked.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4-6 servings)

2 small butternut squash
2 large apples, pealed & chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
3 tbs half and half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Cut the squash in half and roast for 45-60 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
In a large pot, heat to medium high heat and add in the apples and onion with butter. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the apples are soft. The butter will get all bubbly and brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Scoop out the squash seeds and spoon the squash pulp into the pot with the apples and onion.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Add in the stock and cook for 5 minutes or so.
Transfer into a blender or blend with an immersion blender then return to the pot.
Season with salt and pepper. Add more stock if it is too thick for your liking.
Add in the cream and stir well.

I loved this. It was so good with a touch of sweetness from the apple and I toasted some sourdough for dunking. I froze the rest and will be so glad to pull it out of the freezer some day when I’m not into making dinner. I know, the apples just keep appearing…that’ll be over soon.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Bailee oversaw the whole operation. She likes to know what is happening in the kitchen if there’s food around and she wanted to say hi.
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Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza

I love all veggies roasted. Seriously, roasting is the best. all. the. time. I made pizza last year with butternut squash, bacon, and gouda but this time I kept the roasted squash in chunks and I used ricotta as “sauce”. While I haven’t seen it in person, the menu at Otto has a pizza with butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry. I wonder how theirs is so I started with just those ingredients….somewhat. It was so good.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Cranberry Pizza

I really loved the slightly rehydrated dried berries. I was trying with contain myself and not go overboard (umm unlike when I made this salad) actually wished I had more! I also unearthed a million partial bags of dried cranberries. I guess I need to use them more often. I used dried cranberries that were infused with blueberry juice. They taste like blueberries but are actually cranberries. Whatever. They’re cranberries pretending to be blueberries.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Butternut Squash Cranberry Pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza dough
1 1/2 cup ricotta
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 butternut squash, cubed
1/3 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries
2 tbs butter
1 tsp garlic, minced

Directions:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400-degrees.
Roast the butternut squash drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping once while cooking the dough.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Butternut Squash Cranberry Pizza
Spread the pizza dough out and poke a few holes into the dough.
Cook the dough for 10-15 minutes until lightly cooked.
Remove from the oven and spread ricotta onto the dough. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pizza
Spoon roasted squash onto the pizza.
Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the crust browns a bit.
In a small pot, melt butter and garlic over medium heat.
When it starts to gently bubble, add in the dried berries. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pizza

Once the pizza is cooked, remove from the oven and spoon the butter/garlic/berry sauce over the top.
Let sit about 2 minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Cranberry PizzaEnjoy!

I loved this. I think the garlicky, buttery, and fruity flavors were perfectly contrasted against the nutty and salty squash.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Butternut Squash Cranberry Pizza
This pizza would be great if you were making a few pizzas. It might not be everyone’s first choice for pizzas but I swear, try the garlic/butter/rehydrated berries on the pizza before you knock it.

Suggested adaptations:
roasted butternut squash pizza + caramelized onions + toasted walnuts = super topped pizza
roasted butternut squash pizza – ricotta + other cheeses (fontina, gouda, swiss) – dried berries = more flavor if dried fruit isn’t your thing
roasted butternut squash pizza + sliced chicken sausage or chopped prosciutto = non-vegetarian pizza

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Today I wanted to kick off a new Friday series. I’m calling this one Tonight & Take 2. I get questions about how I have all the ingredients for everything I make or how I come up with what I make.
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The reason I have an ingredient on hand is because:
a) I live to avoid grocery shopping so leftovers are planned to a T
b) using-what-I-have is my middle name
c) cooking for 2 of us means a whole package/container/item needs creativity so we aren’t eating the same thing day in and day out.

I just don’t usually share how I plan to use the other half. I might use part of the whole for a recipe but now you’re going to see how that happens. I also might make something and space out the blog posts so you think each posted item was spaced out. Aren’t you excited?!

Here are my meal planning tips here and here. Now, back to using an ingredient to make 2 totally different dishes.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Ingredients:

½ roasted butternut squash
1 cup black beans
8 oz shredded monterey jack cheese or pepper jack
1 tbs liquid smoke (optional)
1 tbs salsa
8 wheat tortillas

Directions:

Fill each tortilla with squash, black beans, and cheese.
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Roll up and top with enchilada sauce.
Bake covered for 20 minutes at 350-degrees.
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These were flavorful and I loooved the smoke flavor with the squash. The beans make it filling and balanced. Does this have you thinking about another leftover that would be good in here? Throw it in! Go crazy!

Now, these enchiladas were take 2 on a roasted butternut squash. Round one was a fall pizza with butternut squash, gouda, and bacon.
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Bacon, Butternut Squash and Gouda Pizza

I had an idea for a fall inspired pizza once I saw a good lookin’ pizza on Flying On Jess Fuel. Her pizza had bacon, gouda, apples, and caramelized onions. How delicious does that sound?! I also saw an awesome one on We Are Not Marta with pumpkin crust topped with prosciutto and brussels sprouts. I had a few fall flavors I thought would be good and it seemed like it’d be an ideal use for some butternut squash I had roasted. Bing, bam, boom.
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Ingredients:

pizza dough
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup shredded mozzarella
½ roasted butternut squash
1 cup sliced gouda
4 strips of thick cut bacon

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400-degrees.
While oven is heating, fry bacon until almost cooked (it keeps cooking when on top the pizza).
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Pre-bake the pizza dough for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle mozzarella, thyme, and nutmeg on top after removing from the oven.
Spread the mashed butternut squash onto the dough.
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Top with sliced gouda.
fall_pizza_cheese_590_390Finish with bacon.
Bake 20-30 minutes until melted and crisp.
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I liked it. I think the gouda is nicely nutty and the quash layer provides a great moisture layer. I liked the crisp bacon in contrast to the soft squash.
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It was good. This fall pizza was a nice combo of flavors I’m glad I didn’t go bananas topping it with everything I thought might go. Sometimes I go pizza-topping-overboard. I can’t help it!

Psssst: get ready! I have a new series launching later this week. Stay tuned!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Redo

I posted this butternut squash lasagna last year but I thought it it needed a little re-do.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Don’t judge this lasagna until you try it. It is seriously so good and a great fall food. I love this one! It is much faster to prep & cook than traditional Italian lasagna.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, roasted
16 oz ricotta cheese
½ cup cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
½ box lasagna noodles

Directions:

Roast butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees. (this could be done the day before)
Combine ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolk, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash
Mix squash and chicken stock over medium low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
To assemble lasagna: spread noodles on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan; top with ricotta mixture and some cheese; layer more noodles; top with butternut squash mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
Repeat laying noodles then ricotta and cheese, then noodles, then squash and repeating until all the layers are used.The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
Sprinkle some cheese on top.
Bake 30 minutes at 375.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
I sprinkled some fresh basil in there. I love the flavor combo and I hadn’t grabbed a package of sage. I think the fresh-factor is important and sage makes it more fall-ish.

See? Pretty simple and it’ll feed a crowd. It is a great dinner to prep in advance and stick in the oven for just little fuss. It reheated well and I froze leftover pieces.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna (serves 6-9)

1 butternut squash: $1.89
16 oz. ricotta: $1.99
4 oz. cream cheese: $0.62
1 egg yolk: $1.24
16 oz. mozzarella: $3.59
4 oz. Parmesan cheese: $1.98
8 oz. chicken stock: $0.11 ($2.99 jar/25 cubes=11 cents per cube/cup)
8 oz. lasanga noodles: $1.00
total cost = $12.42/9 servings = $1.38 per serving
Even cutting larger pieces (6 instead of 9) comes to $2.07 per serving!

I had some leftover noodles. Early on in your layers, take a quick count how many noodles fit so you don’t run out mid layer when you could have scooched a few. I cut the up the leftover noodles with a little sauce and some cheese. Pow! Pop a meatball on and I’ve got a last minute dinner in the freezer some night! My resourceful Momma taught me well!
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Goes Layered

Ohh. So. Good.

I ate this at bookclub one night and was so impressed. I wanted to make it immediately. Martha sure knows what she’s doing. This is a great recipe and cooks so much faster than regular Italian lasagna.
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Butternut Squash Lasagna (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, roasted
16 oz ricotta cheese
½ cup cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
½ box lasagna noodles

Directions:

Roast butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees.
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Combine ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolk, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
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Mix squash and chicken stock over medium low heat.
To assemble lasagna: spread noodles on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan; top with ricotta mixture and some cheese; layer more noodles; top with butternut squash mixture. Repeat laying noodles then ricotta and cheese, then noodles, then squash and repeating until all the layers are used. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
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Bake 30 minutes at 375.
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Mr. J LOVED this. I tried not to hype it up too much since that can end in disapointment but this was really great. I roasted the squash the night before to save some time too.

I tried to be really careful not to overcook the noodles. I was afraid everything would be too mushy so I also tried to leave some lumps with the squash.

I spread a little pre-made alfredo sauce on the bottom which was a nice touch. I did however forget to put the mozzarella and Parmesan until it was almost too late. I scooched a few layers up and snuck it in there. I thought it was more important to get the cheese in there than for the layers to look perfect.
squash_lasag_plate_590_390

Umm let’s discuss how amazing the cream cheese mixed with ricotta is. YUM. Sooo good and I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it before! It’s a must-try!

I nixed the sage because I just wanted fewer ingredients in my dreaded grocery shopping trip. My friend put in some basil instead and we thought that was really nice…lighter than sage.

The lasagna was filling and really good. I ate it reheated for lunch a few days and continued to love it. I should attempt some more meat-less meals more often. Shhh! Don’t tell Mr. J ;)

Let’s do a little cost breakdown I’m so into right now!

Butternut Squash Lasagna (serves 6-9)
1 butternut squash: $1.89
16 oz. ricotta: $1.99
4 oz. cream cheese: $0.62
1 egg yolk: $1.24
16 oz. mozarella: $3.59
4 oz. Parmesan cheese: $1.98
8 oz. chicken stock: $0.11 ($2.99 jar/25 cubes=11 cents per cube/cup)
8 oz. lasanga noodles: $1.00
total cost = $12.42/9 servings = $1.38 per serving

Even cutting larger pieces (6 instead of 9) comes to $2.07 per serving!

The Pork is More Than Just Brine…With Butternut Squash Risotto

I don’t end up cooking much meat so I’ve never brined meat before but there’s a first time for everything. I was excited for a new technique.
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I set the country style boneless pork ribs set up in brine for the workday. The pork should absorb a lot of liquid and when this cooks off, the meat will be more tender. True story.

Ingredients

2 cups ice cubes
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbs peppercorns

Directions

Boil cider vinegar.
Add salt and sugar stirring until dissolved.
Add ice cubes and peppercorns.
Put pork into the brine and let sit for 8 hours.
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To cook, remove from brine, smother with bbq sauce and bake for 1 hour, covered.
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The pork came out smelling amazing! It was uber tender. Fork tender…no knives required. It would have been really special with homemade barbecue sauce but was so good and I was really happy with it.

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I made butternut squash risotto to go with it. I love risotto and don’t make it nearly enough. It is creamy and delicious with so many variations! I’ve made a weight watchers one with tomato juice and zucchini. The tomato juice makes it red, flavorful, and creamy without being overly acidic. Enough about that, onto today’s risotto.

Ingredients

1 cup aborio rice
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups butternut squash
½ cup white wine
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

Toast aborio, stirring consistently until golden.
Heat broth and wine on medium low.
Steam butternut squash and add to rice.
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Add ½ cup broth until absorbed and repeat until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Serve with plenty of Parmesan.
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The risotto was sticky and delightful. The squash was a perfect addition. What a great orange color! Needless to say, I ate leftovers for days. I thought making a ½ cup of rice might be weird to have strange quantities but we definitely had more than enough. Maybe arancini will be a fun use of these leftovers.

Black Bean and Squash Veggie Burgers

My event is over, I’m back from vacation, work isn’t stressful anymore, and there are no more excuses. Time to eat real food and better food. Time to cut the crap…so to speak. Last night Mr. J was wanting dessert. I was glad he didn’t end up suggesting a trip to our fav local ice cream place. I might not have had the will power to say go without me. I need to get back on track.

What a perfect segway to veggie burgers! I love them and don’t make them nearly enough. Homemade ones are sooo much better than store bought ones.
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I get it that folks dismiss them. I’m not vegetarian, but I can’t eat beef so I kind of have to like them. People who are lucky enough to eat beef without a problem don’t really understand and can mock them all they want. I love all the flavors, condiments, and options for burgers. I usually make chicken burgers and some restaurants offer turkey burgers and they are pretty good substitutes. It is just such a quintessential summer food I miss out on.

These are so simple, filling, hot-of-the-grill, and hearty. Veggie burgers are filling but not stuffed-can’t-think-about-food-again kind of burgers. I’ve made them with eggplant which I like but the nuttiness of the oatmeal and the crunch from the sunflower seeds is so great. My friend Flying on Jessfuel made Sweet Potato & Pecan burgers a million years ago before we had blogs. The butternut squash in these brought me back to that million-degree apartment in Boston way back when.

Black Bean & Squash Burgers

Ingredients:

1 can black beans
1 cup butternut squash cooked (I used frozen, mostly defrosted)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbs olive oil or 1 egg
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded/chopped/grated
1 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain black beans.
Add black beans, butternut squash (mine was still a touch frozen/frosty), onion, and garlic to a food processor.
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Pulse for a few seconds until mixed leaving some black bean chunks.
Mix black bean mixture with oatmeal, sunflower seeds, egg, cheese, onion powder, and some salt & pepper.
Form into patties

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Grill until crisp on the outside. Flip once, gently.
Serve on a bun with all the traditional burger ‘fixings or on salad or in a pita or bunless.
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I topped mine with avocado, ketchup, and some whole grain mustard we’re obsessed with on the bottom. It was so good. I froze the other 3 burgers separated by parchment. They’re ready and waiting for the next burger night!

Mr. J saw me whipping these together (he formed his own beef burger) and saw something orange go in from the freezer. Mango? Hahaha, nope! That frozen butternut squash wasn’t our fav and it hung around so long he didn’t even think of it. He magically grilled this bad boy to perfection while I feared it would fall apart. He’s the grill-master for sure.

(p.s. wish him a happy birthday tomorrow!)

#Meatless Monday Recap #2

Back in January I instituted #MeatlessMondays into our weekly menu plan, though it isn’t always on Mondays. Since the last update, the name of the game is speed and ease. The little one is more into grains, veggies, pasta, and cheese than he is into meat at the moment so meatless is never a challenge for him.

Some of my favs have been the no-brainers, because that’s helpful for speed now that I’m verrrrry pregnant. I followed a few recipes that were great! I made a Roasted Veggie Lasagna from What’s Gaby Cooking with a cream sauce and I roasted butternut squash, zucchini, and grape tomatoes as the veggies.  Another recipe we loved was Peanut Rice Noodle Bowls with Curried Peanut Sauce from Eats Well With Others.

I made Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls with White Beans and it was so good!
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

We had a white french bread pizza and risotto and ravioli which are all fan favorites here.

This Tart with Potatoes, Gruyere, and Caramelized Onions was a hit for me, less so for everyone else.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Tart
I put chopped veggie burgers into tacos with a little taco seasoning and voila, veggie & filling taco!

We had a few soups: Broccoli & Cheddar Soup  and grilled cheese with tomato soup.

One of the most fun meatless meals I made was waffle fry nachos with queso, avocado, shredded cheddar, peppers & onions, and salsa. So fun!

I’m fully willing to admit that my meatless meals are also serving us as the no-brainers I really appreciate to keep it easy. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and through my entire pregnancy I’m not “glowing” or whatever people say who enjoy this. I’m glad to get meals together quickly so we can all eat together, and keep it varied. They might not all be my most creative moments, but it is a good way to keep us varied.