butternut squash mac and cheese

squash mac and cheese

You know, before we get into full-on Christmas madness, let's take a break. Let's pause to enjoy a nice light bowl of–oh wait, I'm talking about mac and cheese today.

To be fair, there's an entire butternut squash in here, cleverly blended into the sauce to make it creamy without a ton of butter and heavy cream, which I guess technically makes this mac "lighter." Not that I care, honestly. I wanted mac and cheese and I happened to have several butternut squash for my CSA that needed to be used much sooner than later.

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a very rustic squash pie

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Or, tales from the blogging struggle bus. Seriously, why all of the sudden is my phone taking grainy pictures? Why is the lighting in this house so miserable? Why does it have to be dark BEFORE 5pm? (Winter, I hate you.) I desperately want an SLR camera, but my budget laughs at the idea. I've had at least 4 recipes I've made that the photos depressed me so badly I decided not to post, and more that I was just too tired to photograph.

However, it's about to be Thanksgiving, and so I will give you pie, even though this photo is terrible and calling my crust "rustic" is a bit laughable. Whatever, this pie was delicious. It may look pumpkin, but it's made with acorn squash, although any old fall squash will do here. No puree here, either, just cooked squash mixed into custard, which is the intentionally rustic part of this pie. Here's the thing: this is really no more work than a pumpkin pie, but people will be way more impressed when you tell them it came out of a real squash instead of a can.

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spaghetti squash and black bean tacos

spaghetti squash and black bean tacos

I love spaghetti squash. Sure, it tastes great, but my inner five-year-old also really enjoys the way the cooked squash turns into shreds when you scrape it with a fork. So weird. So cool.

Squash in tacos might sound a little weird, but variations on the theme are pretty common, as most squash takes very well to spicy Mexican flavors. This recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is the first I've seen to use spaghetti squash, but while unexpected, it works really well. Spaghetti squash retains a little bit of crunch, adding nice texture to the tacos. Beans, queso fresco, and onions round things out, but the spiced squash is the star here.

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roasted salmon and broccoli with chile-caper vinaigrette

roasted salmon and broccoli with caper-chili vinaigrette

Salmon and broccoli, all in one pan and spruced up with a spicy and salty vinaigrette? It's like you were reading my mind, Bon Appetit.

Tonight's dinner is also a great example of the way I usually eat. Yeah, some nights (aka the entire week before an exam) are "microwave some Trader Joe's frozen entree" nights, and when I have time I undertake more ambitious meals, but usually I need some source of protein and vegetables and if they are prepared together, all the better.

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grilled Hatch chile and tomato salsa

hatch chile and tomato salsa

While I ate ridiculously well on my road trip, all those days in a row of eating out were starting to wear on me. Since many of our later hotels didn't have fridges, I felt obligated to finish my dinners, so a lot of nights I was so full it was a bit painful. So, on the plane, I browsed through my food magazines on my tablet, in between using the free TV to watch Food Network (yeah, everyone nearby probably thought I was ridiculous).

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stir-fried eggplant with thai basil-garlic sauce

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Eggplant drenched in stir-fry sauce is really hard to make look pretty in photos. I tried. No matter. It's delicious! As good as your local Thai takeout, really. Maybe better, depending on the quality of said local Thai place.

When I first started trying to make Thai flavors at home, I learned pretty quick that I'd better stock up on fish sauce. If you've never worked with fish sauce, just…don't take a whiff. The crushed souls of thousands of tiny fish are quite pungent. Anyway, this sauce uses a lot of fish sauce. And lime. Not making any claims to authenticity here (in the slightest) but the flavors are on point.

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red, white and blue no-bake cheesecake tart

red, white and blue no-bake cheesecake tart

Happy Independence Day!

I love the Fourth of July. Honestly, it's a ridiculous celebration but just so American. Celebrating the birth of our nation with explosions and absurd amounts of food cooked over fire while hanging out outside? I love it. Someone go get me some sparklers.

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bacon tacos with spring greens and caramelized onions

I started up my CSA for vegetables a few weeks ago, and have been veritably drowning in spring greens since. Before my first CSA, I had not heard the term “Asian greens,” and now I can recite to you the names and general descriptions of several types of Asian greens. From the familiar bok choy to mizuna to several varieties of Chinese cabbage, I’ve seen it all. Continue reading

turnip and greens farro salad + creamy winter squash

Yeah, yeah, you were probably expecting cookies. But no worries, cookies are on the way. But first, vegetables.

I spent the last few days in Miami, there ostensibly to watch my brother graduate from college. It rained quite a bit but I got a few hours of sun in each day and even when it's cloudy the beach is a pretty damn nice place to be. The trip also meant eating out for four days straight, the highlight certainly being Michael's Genuine. It's kind of remarkable to be able to enjoy heirloom tomatoes in season in December, and their roasted version with pesto and goat cheese made it more so. However, despite the deliciousness I enjoyed, I was ready for some lighter fare by the time I flew back into Chicago. These recipes caught my eye while I was perusing my December cooking magazines, looking, of course, for cookie recipes.

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