Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

So this week has been a very exciting week for me (or us- Cesar has been excited too)!  We've hit several record views on the page beating out all previous ones by far.  Since Monday I've gotten 5 images accepted onto Food Gawker (woop woop!) and been working hard to spread my page and recipes around other places and so far it's really been working out well!  I wanted to go with the flow of all the excitement and make another recipe for you all before the end of the week. 

Seeing as the Lentil Stew with Delicata Squash recipe has been such a hit and I'm in love with anything and everything fall squash related, I wanted to continue along those lines...you know- the lines of savory carb-y goodness and delicious sweet squash.
Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

I've had notions for a while now of making a mac and cheese but with some sort of fall squash.

I mean, what could be better?  Squash is creamy and delicious and often used in lasagna so why not use it to coat some macaroni?  Is it too fancy for greasing those elbows?  I think not!

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

So low and behold, squash and macaroni was born!

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni
Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

I've been craving pasta and more savory things lately so for me this really hit the spot.  I didn't use as many cashews as I normally would for a cream base just because I didn't want it to be super sweet (which I totally love too...just not right now).

 

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

Severs 4-6

3 Cups of Macaroni

3/4 Cup Raw Cashews

3 Cups Water, Separated

2 TBSP Oil

1 Medium Red Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 TBSP White Miso

3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1 1/2 Cups Cooked and Mashed Red Kuri Squash*

* I like a lot of different varieties of squash and have the luxury of being able to get ahold of them regularly, but if you are unable to find Red Kuri, Butternut Squash will also work just fine.

**I haven't called for the addition of salt in this recipe because miso is inherently very high in sodium so I felt that the recipe didn't need any extra. You should test it as you go though and adjust for taste if you want to season with salt.

Soak the cashews in a medium sized bowl with cool water for 30 minutes up until overnight.

Prepare pasta according to box directions.

When you are ready, chop the onion and garlic cloves.  Heat oil in a medium sized pot on medium high heat and add onions.  Stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes before adding garlic.  Cook for several minutes longer.

Meanwhile, put drained cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, chili powder and 2 cups of water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Add to pot with onions and garlic.  Reduct heat to medium and stir in squash.  Add remaining water 1/2 cup at a time- you may need more or less depending on thickness.

Cook for several minutes longer before removing from heat and tossing mixture into blender once again and blend until smooth.

Fall Harvest Oatmeal with Pears

Have you ever cooked up something ridiculously delicious at home once, knew what you used to make it and then tried to recreate it later and it was a flop?  

Of course you do.  I'm sure we all have and that's what happened with this guy.  I mean, it really isn't a complicated recipe but when I tried to make it again it didn't work out.

I was bummed.

Fall Harvest Oatmeal

I realized what it was though- it was the pears.  You see, at work we got in the most amazing pairs one week (and only a small shipment, mind you) and then didn't see any more for weeks after.  The grocery store had some mediocre options that I tried and it just didn't taste right.  Then, last week we got another (small) batch of pears so you bet your booty (betting booties- is that a thing?  Well whatever people bet, that's what you should do) I picked up a bunch!  

And guess what?  The recipe worked out fantastically and I realized that for this recipe, at least, only the sweetest of pears will do.  I mean, other pears will do but it's best with really sweet bartlett pears.

Fall Harvest Oatmeal

You add in the natural sweetness of the pears and pair it with cinnamon, cardamom, fresh chopped pecans and a little maple syrup and you, my friend, have yourself a winner.

Fall Harvest Oatmeal

Fall Harvest Oatmeal

Serves 3-4

1 Cup of Rolled Oats

1 3/4 Cup Milk (I liked vanilla almond milk the best for this)

pinch of salt

2 Small Bartlett Pears

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Cardamom

Chopped Pecans

Maple Syrup

In a medium pot, bring the milk to a simmer and add the oats and a small pinch of salt.  Cook for several minutes and in the meantime, chop up your pears.  Once the oats have begun to soften, reduce heat and stir in the pears, cinnamon and cardamom.  Cook for several minutes longer until most of the milk is absorbed and the oats are cooked through.  

Serve and top with chopped pecans and maple syrup!

A Not-So Case of the Mondays

Fall Pumpkins

Monday's can sometimes be hard for me.  I'm sure anyone that's seen "Office Space" knows about the Case of the Mondays.  I used to have that a lot but now, more often than not, I think of Mondays as a reset time.  It's the start of a new week- time to make changes and adjust things that maybe you weren't happy about last week (or for continuous weeks before that).

Fall Pumpkins

I've recently gotten into the habit of waking up in the morning, getting breakfast and lunch together for my mom and seeing her off and then going back to bed.  It's not that I'm really tired (ok, I'm somewhat tired, I'll admit) but I just don't want to be up and productive yet.

I don't like rushing into my mornings- I like taking them slowly but I dislike going back to bed as I have been doing.  I'm just wasting time and being unproductive for no reason.

Today, instead, after my mom left I got ready and to take the dogs for a walk and what was meant to be a short walk ended up being quite a long walk.  I was relaxing and enjoying the weather and doing "nothing".  Letting my mind wander along with my body.

The Nectar Collective

That's why this week, for my personal goals this week I want to focus on one thing: relaxing and going for a walk with the dogs first thing in the morning.  Get myself moving and inspired to be productive.  

It's a small thing, but I'm not a big fan of making drastic changes.  I have other bigger things I want to accomplish and progress with but my hope is that a simple change in my morning routine can help with everything else to follow in the day.

What are your goals for this week?

Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie

Last week I had talked with a customer at work about fermentation, good bacteria and how probiotic pills often don't contain what they should because they typically get overheated (through transport and otherwise) and the bacteria die.  

Then we got to talking about kefir.  

Kefir is something you can often find in grocery stores in the dairy section.  It is teeming with good bacteria and probiotics essential for proper gut health.  Like most dairy sold in this country though, pasteurization is required (raw dairy laws vary state to state) and so basically, any benefits that could potentially have been reaped from the probiotics become null.

Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie
But don't despair! You can make your own kefir! Kefir grains can be purchased online and you culture your own kefir in the comforts of your own kitchen with minimal effort. While the grains ideally want whole fat animal milk, you can also do it with nondairy options as well such as coconut milk. The Kitchn has a great article about kefir and you can read more about it here.
Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie

It's really quite simple though- just take a small amount of kefir grains and some milk (the ratio is about 1 tsp of kefir to 1 cup of milk) and put them in a glass or bowl, cover with a cheesecloth and let it sit out for 24-48 hours until it is tangy enough for your liking.  Then, strain out your kefir, cover and put in the fridge!

Healthy kefir grains can be used indefinitely but if you want to take a break, just place the grains and milk into the fridge until you are ready to culture more.

The moral of this story is that the customer came back a few days later and brought me some of her kefir grains and so I've been having lots of fun playing with culturing, and, of course, recipes! 

Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie
(my countertop was looking mighty fine so I had to add a picture)

(my countertop was looking mighty fine so I had to add a picture)

Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie
Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie

With this recipe I like the slight tangy-ness that the kefir brings to the smoothie without making it taste sour.  If you don't want to make your own, you can of course buy plain kefir from the grocery store or use some sort of plain yogurt.

Apple Pie a la Mode Kefir Smoothie

 Serves 1-2

1.5 Cups Chopped Apple (sweeter, softer variety such as Golden Delicious)

1 TBSP Maple Syrup

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Ginger

3/4 Cup Kefir

1 Cup Milk or Non-Dairy Milk

Toss all the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth and enjoy those healthy, good-for-your-gut bacteria!