Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I was just thinking about this mac ‘n’ cheese that I created last year and realized that it wasn’t on my blog yet. Yikes! I developed the recipe last year for a Good Things Utah segment and it is one of my favorite segments to date. Watch me make it here!

Getting ready on the set of ABC4’s Good Things Utah!

So many of my friends have made this and loved it. You could definitely say its “grown-up” or “fancy” mac ‘n’ cheese. It requires a bit of effort but is sooooo worth it! The combo of roasted butternut squash, crispy bacon, creamy gruyere, and fresh rosemary is perfection! This is amazing alongside roasted chicken or pork and is the perfect side dish to take to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. You will definitely impress your family and guests with this elevated take on classic mac ‘n’ cheese! If you make it (or any of my recipes) please comment on my blog and share my recipes on social media. It will help me grow!

Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

1 butternut squash – peeled, de-seeded, and cubed (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup shallots, finely diced
1 stick (8 TB) butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (1%, 2%, or whole)
2 cups grated gruyere cheese, divided
2 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
16 oz cavatappi pasta
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.
2. Place cubed squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven to roast for 20 minutes or until pieces are fork tender. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash half of the pieces (doesn’t have to be completely smooth). Leave on tray and set aside.
3. When water boils for pasta, add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water then cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and place on a towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet.
5. Turn the heat for the skillet to medium then add diced shallots. Cook until translucent.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the shallots. Once melted, whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. Cook for about 1 minute or until the flour starts to brown. Whisk in milk with a slow, steady stream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
7. Once the sauce thickens (coats the back of a spoon), add 1 ½ cups of gruyere and 1 ½ cups of cheddar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and about ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir until cheese is melted then turn off the heat.
8. Add rosemary, bacon, butternut squash and drained pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
9. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Add panko and parmesan and stir to combine.
10. Add remaining gruyere and cheddar to the pasta then sprinkle the panko mixture on top.
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until topping starts to brown.
The GTU crew devoured my mac ‘n’ cheese after the show wrapped! Love these people!

The BEST Baked Beans

Me to my husband, “What title should I give my baked beans? I can’t just call them Baked Beans.” He replied with, “You just need to call them The BEST Baked Beans because that’s what everyone says after they take a bite of them.” So there you have it, these really are the BEST Baked Beans ever!

Before I started making these, I really wasn’t a fan of baked beans. When I saw them at a BBQ or potluck, I’d pass them by. Why? Because they were always full of floppy bacon and long stringy onions. Yuck. About 10 years ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I based my recipe off of my mother-in-law’s because the sauce in hers had good flavor. I decided to cook the bacon FIRST until it was nice and crispy. Then I cooked the diced onions in some of the bacon grease until they were brown and flavorful. GAME CHANGER. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic as far as baked beans go. The sauce is the perfect amount of sweet from the brown sugar but still tangy and savory with ingredients like Worcestershire and dry mustard.

Do not pass this recipe by because the ingredient list looks like “basic baked beans.” I’m telling you, the technique is what takes these beans to the next level. If you’re taking these to a potluck, you’re going to need to quadruple this recipe. I always do and come home with an empty pot. Every time I’ve taken them to a potluck I hear someone yelling, “Who made the beans?” Haha! You’ll be the star of all the BBQs this summer if you make them!

The BEST Baked Beans

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 one lb cans Pork and Beans, undrained
2/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 cup yellow onions, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 slices bacon, chopped in bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 325. Heat a large oven-safe pan (or pot) to medium-high and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan to drain on a paper towel-lined plated. Remove all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease from pan. Add the onions and cook until onions are tender and browned. Add beans, ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard, Worcestershire, bacon, and S&P to the pan. Stir to combine. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

*Note: The beans will not thicken properly if made in a slow cooker. If you need to keep them warm, bake in oven as directed then transfer to a slow cooker.

Tex-Mex Pasta Salad

Y’all know that I like to add a little Tex-Mex to any dish that I can.  I have been dreaming up this salad for a while now and love how it turned out!  I tried to think of as many ingredients that reminded me of home to put in this salad. Cheddar cheese, bacon, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, lime…yum! You’ll find a jar of pickled jalapenos on every table, at almost every supper, where I grew up in East Texas. Add more jalapenos if you want it spicier! Black beans would be a great addition to this pasta salad as well. My son hates beans so I was nice and left them out! This pasta salad is the perfect dish to take to all of your summer BBQs!

Tex-Mex Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

16 oz bowtie pasta
1 (11 oz) can Mexicorn, drained
8 oz cheddar cheese, small cubes
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 oz can sliced black olives, drained
1/3 cup pickled jalapenos, finely diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped

Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, make dressing by whisking together mayo, sour cream, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.