Butternut Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I love Mac ‘n’ cheese. That was honestly one of the most heartbreaking losses in the “going gluten-free” part of my life.

I’ve since learned to cope with rice pasta and corn-free real cheese instead of the modified food starch cheese-like dust.

But I tell you, it was a difficult road for this pasta-holic.

But one of the awesome things about being forced into eating “real” less processed food was that if forced me to cook from scratch, learn to follow recipes instead of pictures on the back of a box, and to use fresher ingredients. It was a period of intense growth and world-expansion for me. Up to that point, there were entire sections of grocery stores I didn’t even know existed. What the heck did you even do with an eggplant!? And who’s this delightful vagrant, Trader Joe everyone kept telling me about!?!? That’s what we called the homeless wandering man in my hometown who would try barter to you from his plethora of plastic bags on his bicycle for a cold drink from the gas station… Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot since then.

It is now with great pleasure that I introduce one of my favorite grown-up meals: Butternut Mac ‘n’ Cheese!

First you start with one of these bad boys.

We’ve harvested a BUNCH this year already and we have a few more coming.

Then you cube it, and scoop out all it’s goopy insides- which makes great chicken food, by the way- and broil it for about 15-20 minutes.

I season it with about a teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon, cumin, and onion powder…and then go back with some more cinnamon, because, why not!? With about 5 Tbsp. of real butter. Hello! Butternut squash deserves actual butter… Not trans-fat laden oil garbage. I guess if you wanna be pretentious, you could use ghee. But that’s not how we roll in this house.

Sometimes I toast some pecans along with the b’nut squash, but this time, mostly because of my lack of pecans, I chose to use some of our own stored hickory nuts!

So, huzzah, for 2 whole ingredients coming from our own land.

When it’s done, it looks something like this.

The noodles are the boring filler part of this meal, so I won’t bore you with that package preparation. Just cook your noods of choice.

Then for the sauce, I melt 1/2 a brick (or sometimes a whole brick, depending on how risky I’m feeling) of cream cheese in about a cup of whole milk. We like our dairy full fat around here, like God intended.

Then I season the sauce with a bit of salt, onion, garlic, pepper, or whatever floats your boat. In a more adventurous stage of life, I put cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes on everything. Now just looking at those little red devils gives me heartburn. Life is too short for your food to make you miserable, so I play it safe these days.

Once the sauce is done, I toss it all on the noods and give it a good fluff.

You can actually top it with more toasted pecans, baked apple cubes, or (my favorite) fetta cheese with a dash of cinnamon. Mmm…

Sometimes, if I’m feeling carnivorous, I’ll add sausage, or chicken breast, or some bacon. All are delicious.

Also welcome additions include tumeric, curry, or nutmeg. It’s super versatile, and hard to mess up, so just experiment!

And viola!

Grown-up, autumnal Mac ‘n’ cheese.

You’re welcome, internet.

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