How is it when the day is one of those thats not quite a "bad" day, but definitely not a "good" day, somehow the food sample fairy always seems to know, and visits me? It's happened a few times now, and today was no exception! The day started out fine, but it never really got light out. It rained most of the day. Adam came to work with me to get some of his observation hours in, so THAT was great, and we sent our passports in to be renewed, and THAT was great. But, when it's rainy out, it just puts a tone on the day.

So anyway, we got home and there was a large and quite heavy package on our doorstep. Upon opening it, I found that when Sally from Newman's Own Organics says they're sending samples, they really mean they're sending two weeks worth of snacks and treats! Check this out:

I'm so beyond excited to try all these products!! We ripped right into the two flavors of soy crisps, both cinnamon sugar and barbecue, and they were quite delicious. The crunch and flavor was a satisfying light snack. Thanks Sally!

I set about making dinner right after I took the above picture because, well, I was hungry and it was going to take a little time. I had gotten this idea in my head of making something with butternut squash. Thanks to Coco for putting the idea of Orange Food = Fall in my head! So, I started looking for a recipe, and came across a great one by none other than the obnoxious (yet creative!) Rachael Ray.

I adapted her recipe to be even more healthy, and might I say, quite fantastic. What was it? Nothing other than Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese!

The original Rachael Ray recipe is below, with my adaptations in parenthesis.


  • 1 pound macaroni with lines, such as tubatini or mini penne rigate
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons butter (eliminated)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish (I used dried)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen cooked butter nut squash, defrosted (I used fresh roasted)
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half (I used fat free half-and-half)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar, grated (reduced fat)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, eyeball it (eliminated)
  • Black pepper


Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente or, with a bite to it.

While pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot with a hand held grater or Microplane. Cook the grated onion in butter and oil 1 to 2 minutes, then add flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes. Whisk in stock, then combine with butternut squash until warmed through and smooth. Stir in cream or half-and-half and bring sauce to a bubble. Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings. Drain pasta well and combine with sauce.

So normally, I'm not a Rachael Ray fan. I turn off her shows on TV. I can't stand the words "sammie" or "yum-o" and I even stopped using the term EVOO when I found out it was "hers". But I have to say... the last 5 or 6 recipes that have inspired my dinners have been hers! So I might not be one to be cutesy in the kitchen (quite the opposite, I'm usually kind of crazy and very messy), I do LOVE her recipes... so thanks Rachael!

I would HIGHLY recommend this recipe. Like, its on my top twenty ever recipes. I loved the sweetness of the squash with the cheese and the thyme... it was rich-tasting and satisfying, yet still full of veggies and lower fat than any other super-creamy mac and cheese!

Have a wonderful Friday!

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18 Responses to ButterNutty

  1. Hillary says:

    This is so good! I made it a long time ago when the episode first aired, she made chicken burgers along with it that we very good also!

    hope things are going well for you! I do love reading your blog and it has introduced me to a bunch more as well. Great work and congrats on the upcoming wedding.

  2. I always wanted to try butternut squash mac & cheese! Yours looks delicious and very cheesy 🙂
    .-= Estela @ weekly bite´s last blog ..Vegan Banana Muffins =-.

  3. Great idea with the mac n’ squash!
    .-= Jessica @ How Sweet It Is´s last blog ..Multigrain Rolls and a ‘Glo-ing’ Giveaway! =-.

  4. Diana says:

    I hate the word sammies too. I like your recipe, it looks pretty good.
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..Cookerati & Blog Action Day ‘09 – What do they have in common? =-.

  5. Christina says:

    Holy cow that’s a lot of Newmans!!! Enjoy! 🙂

    That mac n cheese looks sooo yummy, thanks for sharing the recipe! I never knew they had frozen squash! Weird! I’m with you – I’d use fresh!
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Burgoo and Ramen =-.

  6. Yay for the food sample fairy! 🙂

    That recipe sounds delicious. I love Racheal Ray’s recipes!
    .-= Allison (Eat Clean Live Green)´s last blog ..Over my Head? =-.

  7. Melissa S. says:

    ohhh…what a great package! i’m so jealous of everyone getting to try their products!!

    and that dinner looks awesome!! def winter weather worthy!
    .-= Melissa S.´s last blog ..Running Realization =-.

  8. Katie says:

    Seriously, Mara, that pasta looks so good! It’s 1:45 AM and I’m about ready to go into the kitchen and make some. Maybe I shouldn’t read blogs this late…
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..The knee bone’s connected to the ________. =-.

  9. This looks like a great recipe! I have never made mac and cheese from scratch but I’ve been obsessed with finding healthier recipes for it for a while. I might actually make it now with this one! Thanks Mara!
    .-= Lara (Thinspired)´s last blog ..Comfort Food Craziness =-.

  10. So if I show up at your doorstep, run in and steal all those goodies from you, would you be upset?

    Just a thought that passed through my mind 😉

    I love the idea of butternut squash together with macaroni and cheese!!!!

    Have a loooovely day – hope it’s finally not gloomy. What a depressing fall we are having!
    .-= Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog ..Dr. Kristi Funk: Breast Health + Early Detection [Video!] =-.

  11. Kelly Turner says:

    I almost just had a heart attack. I LOVE Newman’s Own. I also have always had a crush on Paul Newman. even in his later years. Oh, those blue eyes….

  12. K says:

    Newman’s HOOKS a blogger up! I hope you enjoy the package – the Hermits are delish!!

    Your rendition of that recipe sounds fantastic! I’ve never tried subbing squash in mac and cheese but everyone raves about it. I need to try it one of these days 🙂

    Happy Friday!!
    .-= K´s last blog ..Somebody To Love =-.

  13. WOW! That looks delicious. It just might be the cure-all to take away the stress of the workweek and start off my weekend on the right foot!
    .-= Madeleine @ Notes On A Page´s last blog ..A Good Day To Be Eating =-.

  14. Krista says:

    Hey! Sorry I haven’t been around for a bit. Your site seems to crash my computer when I get on it!! 🙁 Hope all’s well and the dish looks creamy and lush!
    .-= Krista´s last blog ..Cold Office =-.

  15. OMG I got that same “sample” from Newman’s months ago and let’s just say it lasted a LOT longer than 2 weeks! I think I actually only just finished off the last of it (chocolate) a week or two ago! Plus I gave away a lot. It’s an embarrassment of riches! A delicious one, at least. 🙂
    .-= Diana (Soap & Chocolate)´s last blog ..Macrobiotic Week! Part III =-.

  16. Quix says:

    Ooooh, I am a sucker for mac and cheese! I’ve been wanting to try something with butternut squash but the hubby (it feel weird typing that, hehe) hates it, so maybe I’ll try this….

    And holy cow, that’s a lot of samples! Yummo! =) (sorry, had to)
    .-= Quix´s last blog ..The First Week Back to Reality =-.

  17. Velva says:

    Butternut mac n’ cheese-what great flavor combination! Great recipe!

    The Newman snacks are looking pretty good too!

  18. Nick says:

    What an awesome sample package! That’s an extraordinary amount of good snackies. The chocolate alone would last me at least 2 days…
    .-= Nick´s last blog ..Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Soup =-.

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