Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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For some reason, when I ever I go in with zero plan to make a meal, those tend to be the ones that work out best. When I go in with a plan, my kitchen laughs at me and tells me to try again (and again, and again). This was a one-try wonder which I greatly appreciate as I dislike having to make a recipe many times to get it to work perfectly. Looking at you Lentil Meatloaf Muffins

Anyways, we have a bunch of butternut squash coming in our garden right now so I knew I needed something to use them up. Mac and cheese immediately popped into my head. I know there are dozens of ways to make mac and cheese and generally, I am not a person who makes homemade mac and cheese because it tends to be more work and effort than I like to put into a meal.

Every year, when my mom asks what she can make me for a birthday dinner, I usually ask for something with mac and cheese, because she makes really mac and cheese with a roux and all. This is 100x simpler. The most difficult part is peeling the butternut squash, which is honestly a pain, but worth it. Oh, quick side note, this makes a lot, so have people to share it with, for someone’s birthday say?

Begin by peeling and dicing the butternut squash. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check out this YouTube video. I strongly recommend using an Instant Pot to cook the butternut squash. That’s literally the trick to making this mac and cheese an easy weeknight meal. If you are going to use an Instant Pot, place all the cubed butternut squash into a steamer basket. Press the pressure cook button, set the temp to normal, and set the time to 7 minutes. Place the lid on and make sure the toggle is set to sealing. After 7 minutes, do a quick release

If you do not have an Instant Pot, you can toss the squash in about a tablespoon of oil and roast it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes.

While you are waiting for the squash to cook, whether in the oven or Instant Pot, you can cook your pasta. I used a 16 oz box of elbow noodles and cooked according to the package directions. Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside.

Transfer cooked butternut squash directly to a blender and add the following ingredients: 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp cream cheese, 1 tsp garlic, 1/2 tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt, a generous amount of pepper, and 1 cup milk. Blend all ingredients well until smooth and pourable, adding more milk if needed.

Pour the butternut squash mixture over the pasta and stir well to combine.

Add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and stir well until fully melted. If you are making this directly out of the oven or Instant Pot, it should be plenty hot to melt the cheese without putting it over heat. Taste test and add additional salt or pepper. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Peel and cube butternut squash.
  2. Place the squash into an Instant Pot steamer basket. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook/normal temp/7 minutes, making sure the toggle is set to sealing (and that you have your sealing ring on, it’s happened to me too).
  3. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, preheat your oven to 375 and roast the squash for 20 minutes.
  4. While waiting on the squash to cook, cook 16 oz of elbow noodles according to the package directions, then set aside.
  5. Place the cooked butternut squash in a blender with 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp cream cheese, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp salt, a generous amount of pepper, 1/2 tbsp onion powder, and 1 cup of milk. Blend until smooth and pourable.
  6. Pour the butternut squash mixture over the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
  7. Add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and stir until fully melted. Taste test, adding additional salt or pepper if necessary then serve!

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