Tag Archives: Pasta

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

What a mouthful, am I right? This is one of those dinners, that while super delicious and totally worth making, either involves a decent chunk of time or some planning ahead. It works for me because I usually prepare dinner in a few steps throughout the day, such as during nap time.

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Here’s what I used to make it:

-1 onion, thinly sliced
-6T butter, divided
-3T flour
-10oz frozen butternut squash
-1.5c whole milk
-4oz American cheese, shredded (I like to add some American to mac n cheese because it’s the smoothest melting cheese. Feel free to use all cheddar)
-4oz cheddar cheese, shredded
-1lb pasta (I used chiocciole because Cormac likes “round pasta”)
-1/4c breadcrumbs
-1/4c Parm, shredded

First step is to melt 2T of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and allow to slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally. Real talk – almost every recipe I see claims onions caramelize in 15-20 minutes. That’s just a straight up lie. I find it takes more like 40-60 minutes. But it’s not super taxing or active so it’s worth it. This is also something you could do the day before and just keep them refrigerated. I salt and pepper at the end of caramelizing, not during. I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do but that’s just how I roll.

While the onions are caramelizing, dump the squash into a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon of water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor or blender and purée.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking this sounds complicated or like a lot of steps, but it really doesn’t feel like it, I swear. I wouldn’t lie to you, Internet.

Bring a pot of salted water (Brent wants you to know you are probably not adding enough salt to your water) to a boil and drop the pasta in once boiling and cook til al dente. Basically cook it a minute or two less than you normally would because it will cook in the oven with the sauce as well.

While the water is heating/boiling, we make the cheesy sauce. Into the pan with the onions that have caramelized, add 2T butter and melt. Then add the flour and whisk to cook the flour. Next, slowly whisk in the milk.

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See, how I added a prep step photo? It’s not great. I’m going to go ahead and assume no one comes here for the lackluster iPhone photography. Moving on. Whisk as you add all the milk and continue whisking until it starts to thicken. Should only take 2-3 minutes. Add the cheeses and the puréed squash and stir until mostly smooth.

Drain the pasta and combine pasta with sauce and pour into something close to a 13×9″ pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 and heat a small pan over medium heat. Melt the last 2T of butter. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden. Add salt and pepper. Spread the breadcrumbs and shredded Parm over the top of the mac n cheese.

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Toss it into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top gets browned and a bit crispy. Serve it up, and if you’re like me, splash some hot sauce on it.

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This made about 6 servings, although I think Teddy would’ve eaten the whole pan if I let him. Homeboy crushed it, as he does all pasta. Here he is, chewing down on mac n cheese and broccoli. He ate like 3 servings. #pig

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Cormac didn’t eat any, but he was way too jacked from his first day riding the school bus, and gymnastics class. He could barely sit still. Yesterday was a BIG day for him.

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Ahhh! He was so excited, and so I had no choice but to be excited for him!

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And then my heart exploded. Luckily I had cheesy carbs to help rebuild the pieces.

Lummi Island Getaway

The week of Alfie’s anniversary is a tough one for me, obviously. Maybe slightly easier to handle than last year’s but still difficult. I knew I’d want to disappear for a couple days, and I knew Lummi Island was a great place to do it.

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We’ve been before and I found it tranquil and relaxing. You don’t have to worry about what to do with yourself because there’s basically nothing to do on this tiny island.

We went up Friday afternoon, and after hitting a lot of traffic and a miscommunication resulting in being locked out of our rental, we finally settled in.

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The view was perfect and I was excited to do nothing but stare at water for a few days. We arrived shortly before bedtime, so the boys ate a bit of dinner and went straight to bed. I had a little bit of wine, watched the sun set, and watched Game of Thrones with B (we just started. Why am I so late to the party?).

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Saturday was a perfect 60 degrees and sunny. I was up way too early with insomnia and sad thoughts, so I watched the sun come up.

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Brent read about some church beach with a labyrinth so we walked the mile over to it.

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I don’t know what we were expecting the “labyrinth” to be, but it was just some rocks.

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Luckily the beach was a big hit.

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I think all of these boys could just throw rocks into water all day long and love it.

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After a bit more ridiculousness, we headed back home.

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When we got home, I made lunch – this recipe from The Kitchn. (It was delicious and I’d recommend it)

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Later that afternoon, while the boys napped (thanks to sun and water!), B and I drank beer on the deck, played monopoly and watched the ferry.

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Guys, I have an almost embarrassing obsession with the ferry. Seriously. Zoning out and watching the Whatcom Chief make its 8 minute trek back and forth from the mainland to the island is so soothing to me.

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When the boys woke up, we went to happy hour at The Beach Store Cafe for the the boys dinner and wine for me (and more ferry!).

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Sometimes I think the boys know when I need a break and they were sweet and silly and well-behaved.

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After some more play in the yard, it was time for bed. (I love how well the boys sleep on vacation!!)

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B and I made steak and baked potatoes, watched the water some more and watched more GoT.

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Sunday morning the sads hit me hard honestly, and I kind of just wanted to stay in bed. I’m glad I got up, because we ended up having a fun morning. First we had to build an entire Duplo jungle.

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Once that was complete, we headed over the the Otto Preserve for some light hiking.

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This is such a fun age to take Cormac hiking. He loves dirt and sticks and pointing things out – like this deer!

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Teddy napped for part of the hike.

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And when Cormac got a bit tired and bored, we stopped for a picnic to increase his energy.

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And learned our family cannot handle a full family selfie.

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It was a great way to spend the morning, and as a bonus, it wore the boys out! Allowing me to zone out with a glass of wine and more hot ferry action in the afternoon. Mount Baker was out like whoa.

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After nap time we walked a couple blocks away to the Beach Elementary School, where B and I remembered there was a small playground.

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All the boys had fun climbing and spending some energy.

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After dinner and bed time for the boys, Brent and I just ordered pizza from the Beach Store Cafe, watched the sun go down and put on some more GoT.

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Monday morning, we got up, slowly started packing, ate some breakfast and got on the ferry to head home. The drive back was super quick and both boys napped so it flew by.

I’m glad we were able to get away for a few days and have some time just to ourselves. I guess I just like to hide from people when I need to reflect, and this was perfect for that.