Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

This is a seasonal favorite of mine, I was so excited to share this with my brand spankin’ new husband and grand father in law.  I’ve included the recipe for the very basic mac and cheese, at the end I have a few alterations to spice up left-over nights!

The goal with this recipe was to use one pot, my trusty giant blue Le Creuset, and to layer the flavors.  I wanted to build up on the pancetta flavor, once I removed it I added the onions to the drippings and cooked them down to a caramel color.  Finally I removed the onion and poured in a cup of stock, the pan was so hot it steamed quite a bit but this is good!  I used a wooden spoon to stir aggressively making sure to scape the sides and bottom well.  Two more cups of stock and this is what my squash cubes boiled in, thus layering and combining the flavor even more.  The only draw back is that this method takes a little longer, you can always use more pots to speed up the process.

*this recipe requires a blender or food processor


1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 stick of butter (sounds so much better than 8 tablespoons hehe)

4 oz or less pancetta (you can also use bacon or leave out for a vegetarian option)

1 cup shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

1 bay leaf

1 large onion

3 cups vegetable stock or broth

Pinch of salt

A few turns of pepper




  1. Cube squash, chop onion and pancetta, set each aside separately.
  2. Cook a full box of pasta according to package instructions, I prefer al dente. Drain and set aside
  3. Melt two tablespoons of butter on medium heat in a large soup pot.
  4. Add pancetta and cook until brown bits begin to form, stirring frequently (5 to 7 minutes) remove and set aside.
  5. Add onion and bay leaf to the pan drippings also a pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper and a good coating of dried parsley.  Keeping on medium heat, add a quarter cup of stock and cook until almost fully reduced.  Onions should be a caramel color and taste sweet when they’re done, remove and set aside leaving any drippings (keep bay leaf separate).
  6. Keep on medium heat, add 3/4 cups of stock and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape up the bottom and sides.
  7. Add two more cups of stock, this brings you to three total.  Add cubed squash and bay leaf bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.
  8. Boil squash until fork tender, about fifteen minutes, remove and discard bay leaf.
  9. Now is your chance to do the dishes! I like to clean up as I go so when my husband walks in its like a magic fairy brought dinner, it also saves time at the end and I feel is generally good practice to keep a clean kitchen.
  10. When squash is fork tender, transfer that and broth to large mixing bowl, set Le Creuset aside on stove top, burner off.
  11. In relatively even batches, blend broth, squash, and onions until smooth.  Add each batch back to the Le Creuset once blended, turn heat back on medium-low.
  12. When finished blending watch until the mixture begins to bubble, add cheese and stir until combined (Make it vegan! Skip the cheese and pancetta! Lower in calories and salt.)
  13. Add pasta to sauce and fold gently to combine, serve immediately, sprinkling pancetta over the top of each serving, keep leftovers three days.


Variations to spice up leftover night:


Top with a sprinkling of Feta or Gorgonzola cheese, the tangy-ness compliments the savory butternut sauce.


Make it baked! Layer buttered breadcrumbs on top of the pancetta and extra cheese, bake until bubbly, then broil for a minute or two until the crust browns.


You could even mix in a few extra bread crumbs and fry these like little fritters!





Eggplant Caprese Stacks




Working with my mother-in-law has a lot of perks, one of which is always getting new food to try.  Mama Kate brought in some eggplant caprese stacks and immediately after trying it I asked for the recipe.



3 medium eggplants

1 cup mozzarella


Fresh basil leaves

3 eggs

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup flour

Nantucket Seasoning (a special blend of spices we get every year)

2 or 3 large baking sheets

Non-stick spray



Wash, peel, and slice eggplants into coins about a quarter to a half inch thick

Slice tomatoes into similar sized coins if possible, or enough to be evenly dispersed among stacks

If using fresh mozzarella cut that into coins as well, if you’re resorting to using string cheese like I did, have your husband “string” about a cup of cheese.

Set up breading stations, you’ll need one for flour, one for breadcrumbs, and one with the eggs, add a dash of Nantucket Seasoning to each

Get a helper if you can, someone unafraid of a messy job.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray sheet pans with non-stick spray

Toss eggplant coins in flour, cover in egg wash, toss in bread crumbs, set down on baking sheets.  Do this to half of the eggplant coins as the other half will be used to top the stacks.

Place down the next layer, a mozzarella coin on each eggplant.

Next tomatoes

Then basil leaves, be generous with them, there’s nothing like tomato and basil together

With the remaining eggplant; toss in flour, then eggwash, then breadcrumbs, then top every stack with one

Bake in the oven ten minutes per side (or until browned and sizzling)

Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!





Crispy Tofu – Every Time!

Tofu with an audible crunch, what could be better?



Two packages of tofu

Sunflower Seed Oil (enough to keep bottom of pan covered)

Corn Starch



Heat oil on medium heat until water skids across the top

Cut tofu into cubes or strips or sticks

Pour 1/4 cup of cornstarch into plastic zip lock bag

Add tofu pieces, seal, shake until all sides of the tofu coated

Add tofu to hot oil in batches, leave enough room to easily turn each individual piece (three batches)

Remove when golden on all sides to paper towel covered plate to drain

Serve it up!  We cooked cauliflower in a tika masala sauce and added the tofu on top.

Vegetarian Eggplant Galettes

In an effort to create a protein that stuck together and had a, dare I say, “meatier” consistency, I went ahead and altered my chick pea burger recipe.  Just another experiment with a fancy name!



Galette- a savory pancake in French cuisine



1 eggplant; skinned, cubed, steamed

1 can garbanzo beans; drained, rinsed

Pasta per package directions

1 egg

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp parsley; reserve half for pasta

3 tbs olive oil

Pinch salt

Several grinds of pepper



Cook pasta to package directions

Peel, cube, and steam the eggplant

Drain and rinse the beans

Combine and grind in a food processor (in batches if you need)

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl

The mix should stick together well; it shouldn’t be a hard ball, nor a runny pancake, more of a fritter consistency. If it’s too dry, add a splash of almond milk.  If a little too wet, add some more flour a little at a time.

When satisfied with your mix, heat oil on medium heat until water skips across the surface

Cook your galettes in batches; allow to cook about half way through and brown on one side, then flip

Once both sides are brown and crispy, transfer to a plate with a paper towel to drain excess oil

Mix cooked pasta with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the reserved parsley

Serve galettes over pasta, sprinkle with parmesan cheese




Vegan Alfredo Sauce (over peas and noodles obvi)

I was looking for a creamy sauce to mimic alfredo that I could eat with a spoon (I mean pour over real food), after some experimenting here’s what happened.


Rice and quinoa noodles with vegan alfredo sauce and peas, because broccoli is played out (not sorry)

¼ cup fat of choice (I use olive oil)

¼ cup flour

8 cloves of garlic, minced (It sounds like too much as I write it down, but for the sake of reducing salt intake I up my flavors quite a bit)

2 ½ cups almond milk

PINCH of salt (I really can’t help it)

Many turns of pepper

Note: because this sauce is so fatty theres lots of potential to burn, it needs to be watched and stirred gently and consistently throughout cooking.  I find it’s a perfect assignment for my tiniest or most inexperienced helpers.


While making the sauce, cook pasta according to package instructions

Get your helper and ingredients prepared, things move quickly with white sauce!

Get your medium sauce pot out and on the stove

Oil in on medium heat, let it melt

Add garlic and cook until golden

                Keep a close eye, burnt garlic ruins the entire dish without an effective fix

Add flour and mix until it combines completely

I like to toast it a little extra, browning the flour a bit, in gravies that gives a little more flavor and I assume the same concept applies.

Add almond milk and bring up to a boil

Reduce and simmer until the sauce begins sticking to the spoon and the side of the pan

Add peas to cooked, drained, rinsed pasta and toss

Add sauce to pasta pea mixture

Serve immediately, stores in the fridge but heat gradually if using rice quinoa pasta, it turns into a brick

Chicken and dumplings, sans chicken…or any other animal by-product

Lots of recipes recommend using a faux chicken of sorts; I am a firm believer that the less manufacturing food goes through, the better. Because of this I buy lots and lots of raw ingredients that I then “process” myself by turning into soup or veggie burgers etc.  In this situation, I beefed up (excuse the pun) my veggies to create a filling dinner.




Carrots (3 large)

Celery (2 stalks)

One onion

Baking mix w/ ingredients needed for biscuits

Bay leaf



Six cups vegetable stock

¼ cup flour

¼ Olive oil


Prepare your biscuit dough! I make two cups worth with this recipe.

If using almond milk (or any fatty milk); pour in a tablespoon of vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes, it’ll curdle and make butter milk.  Gives the biscuits a little more…woomph.

Heat olive oil in skillet, add onion, celery, and bay leaf, cook until translucent

Add carrots and continue to cook until fork tender

This is your mirepoix; the base of many soups made up of portions of carrot, onion, and celery.  The termed was coined in the eighteenth century but it was probably used well before.  This combination for soups is actually seen in many cultures called different things.  In Spain it’s called sofrito, Portuguese speaking countries call it refogado.  Italy has a sofrito as well which is a mirepoix base with spices and finely chopped meats.  Other variations include garlic or peppers; they all have the same goal in mind, creating a flavorful base with nice bits of brown stuff on the bottom of the pan to add complexity and depth to your soup, yum!

Stir in flour until everything is coated and combined

The flour and oil (or another fat of choice) make up your roux: this thickens the sauce and has been in use in French cuisine for over three hundred years.  This method crosses cultures but without variation, fat and flour simply add up to deliciously creamy soups!

Pour the stock in slowly, stirring until fully combined

Bring to a boil, pour in peas, and allow it to come back to a rolling boil

Drop your dough one by one

Spread your drops out in a rotation, it gives the dough enough time to cook so when your fresh dough drops come back around they won’t stick together.

Keep an eye on your temperature, you want a light boil and the lid off slightly.  I have a tendency to over boil this once in a while and I get a huge overflow and mess to clean up.

Cook for twelve or thirteen minutes, I constantly take taste tests to see how done they are but I’m always full by dinner.

Serve it up; this recipe is adapted from my mother’s originally and various sources throughout the internet.  A basic crowd pleaser and a comfort meal for any time of the year (although my mother refuses to cook it between March and September because it’s a “winter dish”).

Creamy vegan sweet potato soup

Came home from the store the other day and realized I bought a second pound of sweet potatoes and hadn’t even touched the first! What a bummer…unless you love creamy root vegetable soups.


One pound sweet potatoes, cubed

One large yellow onion

One cup almond milk

Bay leaf

Four cups vegetable stock



Olive Oil

Cinnamon; ground for garnish


Heat oil in a large soup pot on medium heat

Sauté onion and bay leaf until browned and caramelized

                (I set half aside to add in at the end so I had some whole pieces of onion that were never blended which was nice because they actually melt in your mouth)

Add sweet potato and vegetable stock

Boil until potato is fork tender

Transfer in batches to blender or processer, blend until smooth

Transfer back to cooking pot

Add almond milk and bring back to a boil, reduce to simmer

Ready to serve; sprinkle cinnamon over top

Can be stored in the fridge for a few days

Chickpea Burgers, obviously vegan or why would I write about it.

I make my fiancé lunch before he goes to work every morning and since cutting meat all he really eats are leftovers from the night before.  I used to make him really wonderful sandwiches with different meats and cheeses, with those options out I looked for something that would make a filling base for a sandwich.

My every day battle is getting both of us the proper nutrition in tasty and interesting ways, these little power burgers do the trick!


Makes 8 burger sized patties

15 minute prep

10 minute rest

30 minute bake



Two cans garbanzo beans

One sweet potato (cubed and steamed)

One onion (chopped and caramelized)

One teaspoon each: basil, parsley, oregano, olive oil

One half teaspoon salt and pepper

Two tablespoons cornstarch



Preheat oven to 350

Mix two tablespoons cornstarch with six tablespoons water, set aside

Cube sweet potato and steam until fork tender (I use the microwave)

In medium pan sauté and caramelize one chopped onion in one tablespoon olive oil

Drain and rinse garbanzo beans, mix seasonings together, add to food processor

When ready add sweet potato and pulse mixture several times until it begins to mix

Add the caramelized onion

Scrape sides occasionally and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to stick together

Transfer from processor to mixing bowl, stir in cornstarch

Allow the mixture to sit for ten minutes

Rub coconut or olive oil on baking sheet, form eight patties

Bake twenty minutes, sprinkle oil on top and flip, bake ten more minutes

Serve immediately, or save finished patties in Tupperware for a few days.


To reheat:

Heat olive oil in pan on medium heat, add patties and cook til heated through and crispy.  Another one of those recipes that tastes better after 48 hours.




Vegan Taco Tuesday

I’ve been on a roll with vegan dishes lately, this one got a five out of five stars from my manimal!  I just had to share.



One jar medium chunky salsa

One avocado (pitted, cubed)

One cup cooked red quinoa

One cup bean spread (smush up beans with a bit of salsa! BAM vegan bean spread)

Corn tortillas or shells (this easily makes twelve shells)

About twenty cherry tomatoes (halved)



Heat oven to 250, bake shells for 5-8 minutes.

In one bowl mix up your bean spread using one can of beans (black beans are delightful) with half a jar of salsa, a squeeze lime juice on top.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed avocado, halved tomatoes, the rest of the salsa, and the quinoa.

Once shells are done, spread a bit of the bean dip inside, stuff with tomato avocado mixture, serve with limes to squeeze and Sriracha on the side.


The beauty of this recipe is how incredibly quick and simple it is.  Keep on task and it can be done in twenty minutes, it’s filling and satisfying, store the rest in the fridge for a few days, it tastes best after 48 hours.  Enjoy!