Chronicles of a Chipotle Pepper; Entry 3: Four Cheese Chipotle “Macaroni” and Cheese

Yum.  This little experiment has been in my brain for a long time!!  Ever since I first posted on facebook asking my friends what their favorite recipe is with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce, in fact!  A wonderful, genius-in-the-kitchen lady from my church commented and told me about how her family blends chipotle peppers into their macaroni!  I have only tried to make home made macaroni once before…it didn’t work too well.  It was in the crock pot, and the recipe had an option where you mix eggs in.  Well, being a young cook at that time (well, honestly…I’m still a young cook)…I didn’t think about how that could be weird.  I like to use everything in the recipe the first time I make it, to make sure I get the full flavor.  So I put in the eggs.  Yeah.  Eggs.  Macaroni.  Crock pot.  Not a good combo.  It was like scrambled egg macaroni.  Gag.

This attempt was the opposite of gag.  It was super successful and delicious!  And I am proud to say that this is very nearly “healthy macaroni!!”  I say “very nearly” because…well, frankly, it’s macaroni and cheese.  The “diet” we try to loosely follow, The Maker’s Diet, says that dairy should be raw and less than 25% of your daily intake.  This exceeds the dairy limit according to that standard.  However…as far as macaroni and cheese goes, this is pretty phenomenal because of the substitutions I used in place of some of the more traditional ingredients.   Curious?  Read on!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 C Ezekiel Bread Crumbs
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 C Almond Milk, divided
  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash (Alternately, apparently you can find frozen winter squash puree)
  • Small amount of butter or coconut oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 lb (2 Boxes) Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pagodas
  • 1 1/3 C Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 2/3 C Monterrey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 C Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Powdered Mustard
  • Pinch of Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan, Grated

And here’s how you do it:

  1. First, you gotta get your squash started, because it takes the longest.  Obviously, if you are going the “frozen puree” route then you can skip these next couple steps.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Very carefully cut your squash in half long ways.  You may have to cut into the squash as far as you can, then use a rubber mallet or something similar to tap the blade through.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  3. Place on a foil-lined pan.  Rub with a small amount of butter or coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper!
  4. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.  When done, turn your oven up to 375* for your macaroni.
  5. Grate your cheese.
  6. In your food processor, dump your ricotta, 1/2 C of the almond milk, 1 chipotle pepper with a tsp or so of the sauce (depending on how spicy you like it), garlic cloves, salt, mustard, and chipotle chili powder.
  7. As soon as your squash is cooked, spoon the flesh into your food processor.  Pulse until smooth and creamy!
  8. Time to start your noodles!  Cook them according to the package directions.
  9. Now, pour your squash puree into a pan over medium heat.  Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 C of almond milk.  Stir until combined and creamy
  10. When squash mixture is getting bubbly, mix in your ricotta/chipotle mixture and stir until combined.  When your noodles are cooked and drained, you can stir in the cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese.
  11. Dump in your noodles and stir to coat.  Dump into a baking dish (9X13 or comparable)
  12. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oil, and parmesan.
  13. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni.  Slide into your preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned.  Flip your oven on to broil if you want more brown…but watch it close and only leave in there for a minute or two.  It’s amazing how fast things burn in the broiler!

Chipotle Macaroni .5First, you gotta get your squash started, because it takes the longest.  Obviously, if you are going the “frozen puree” route then you can skip these next couple steps.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Very carefully cut your squash in half long ways.  You may have to cut into the squash as far as you can, then use a rubber mallet or something similar to tap the blade through.

Chipotle Macaroni 1Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Chipotle Macaroni 2Place on a foil-lined pan.  Rub with a small amount of butter or coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper!

Chipotle Macaroni 6Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.  When done, turn your oven up to 375* for your macaroni.

Chipotle Macaroni 3However, that is a long time, so while you are waiting, prep everything else!!  Grate your cheese…which is really easy if you a fancy little grater attachment.  🙂  Gotta love wedding present goodies, even two and a half years later 😛

Chipotle Macaroni 4In your food processor, dump your ricotta, 1/2 C of the almond milk, 1 chipotle pepper with a tsp or so of the sauce (depending on how spicy you like it), garlic cloves, salt, mustard, and chipotle chili powder.

Chipotle Macaroni 7As soon as your squash is cooked, spoon the flesh into your food processor.

Chipotle Macaroni 8Pulse until smooth and creamy!

Chipotle Macaroni 9Time for your noodles!!  Now, I know that these technically aren’t “macaroni’s,” but as far as pasta goes, I have found these to be the best noodles as far as health nerds go…they have quinoa flour in them, they are gluten free…and yet they are still a great texture and taste!

Chipotle Macaroni 10Cook according to directions on your package.

Chipotle Macaroni 11Now, pour your squash puree into a pan over medium heat.  Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 C of almond milk.  Stir until combined and creamy

Chipotle Macaroni 13When squash mixture is getting bubbly, mix in your ricotta/chipotle mixture and stir until combined.  When your noodles are cooked and drained, you can stir in the cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese.

Chipotle Macaroni 14Dump in your noodles and stir to coat.

Chipotle Macaroni 15Dump into a baking dish (9X13 or comparable)

Chipotle Macaroni 12In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oil, and parmesan.

Chipotle Macaroni 16Sprinkle on top of the macaroni.

Chipotle Macaroni 17Slide into your preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned.  Flip your oven on to broil if you want more brown…but watch it close and only leave in there for a minute or two.  It’s amazing how fast things burn in the broiler!

Chipotle Macaroni 18Yummy!!!  Doesn’t that look heavenly?!

Chipotle Macaroni 19Crispy, creamy, cheesy…

Chipotle Macaroni 20Doesn’t that look amazing?!  It is!!  The perfect amount of heat…not overwhelming like a Chipotle Pepper has the potential to be…but just a kick at the end.  A fantastic saltiness from 4 favorite cheeses…and just a hint of sweetness from the squash.  And more than a hint of health because of that same squash!

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Fall Chicken Chili (With Beans and Butternut Squash)

Interesting combo, right?!  But stinking hearty, filling, and ooooooooh so delicious!  I actually made this months ago, but didn’t get a chance to post it until butternut squash was out of season.  So I have been waiting for SO long to post this bad boy!!  Well guess what folks?!  Butternut squash is back in the produce section!  And there is a chill in the air (as much as I hate to admit it), which makes it the perfect time to revisit this beauty.  Are you ready?!  I’m ready!!  Let’s do this!!

This is adapted from a lovely book my sweet brother and sister-in-law got me for my birthday!!  It’s called The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook!  Check it out, there are countless wonderful recipes in it!!

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Butternut squash, peeled, cooked, and cubed (I’ll give you some help with that if you need)  Alternately, I believe you can purchase pre cubed (possibly pre cooked?) winter squash.  That works too!
  • 2 1/2 C White or Black Beans, Simmered until starting to soften (Or from a can if you want.  I am a firm believer in dried beans :D)
  • 5 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 Lg Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Small Can Diced Green Chiles

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prep your squash:
  3. This step is optional.  Butternut squash can be very difficult to cut through, so I read somewhere if you pierce it and microwave it for a few minutes, it helps it become more tender and easier to slice into.  I opted to try that way, but if you have more muscles you can skip that step 😉
  4. Chop of the ends and cut it in half to make it more manageable.
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, peel down until the white is gone and you are left with orange flesh.  It may take a few swipes on each spot because winter squash has very thick skin.
  6. Cut open and remove seeds, then cut into cubes!!
  7. Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until starting to soften and brown.  They are going in to a crock pot to simmer so they don’t have to be completely tender.
  8. While you are waiting for your squash, melt 2 Tbsp of Coconut Oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in your chicken breasts (after you salt and pepper them lightly) and sear 2-3 minutes per side, just so you get a good dark brown color.
  9. Toss them into the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot.
  10. Melt the other Tbsp of Coconut Oil into the cast iron skillet and turn down to medium.  Add onion and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring so that you scrape up the bits of browned chicken off the bottom of the skillet.  Add the minced garlic and cook another minute or so.
  11. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir until combined and the smell of the seasonings is released.
  12. Dump onion mixture on top of the chicken breasts.
  13. Add squash, beans, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and tomatoes to crock pot.  Cover and cook, preferably on low for 8 hours.
  14. After 8 hours, fish out the chicken breasts and remove them to a plate.  Shred with two forks and stir back into the chili so everything is evenly combined.

 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Black Bean Squash Chili 1This step is optional.  Butternut squash can be very difficult to cut through, so I read somewhere if you pierce it and microwave it for a few minutes, it helps it become more tender and easier to slice into.  I opted to try that way, but if you have more muscles you can skip that step 😉

Black Bean Squash Chili 2Chop of the ends and cut it in half to make it more manageable.

Black Bean Squash Chili 3Using a vegetable peeler, peel down until the white is gone and you are left with orange flesh.  It may take a few swipes on each spot because winter squash has very thick skin.

Black Bean Squash Chili 4Cut open and remove seeds, then cut into cubes!!

Black Bean Squash Chili 5See?  Pretty little cubes!!!

Black Bean Squash Chili 6Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until starting to soften and brown.  They are going in to a crock pot to simmer so they don’t have to be completely tender.

Black Bean Squash Chili 7While you are waiting for your squash, melt 2 Tbsp of Coconut Oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in your chicken breasts (after you salt and pepper them lightly) and sear 2-3 minutes per side, just so you get a good dark brown color.

Black Bean Squash Chili 10Toss them into the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot.

Black Bean Squash Chili 8Melt the other Tbsp of Coconut Oil into the cast iron skillet and turn down to medium.  Add onion and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring so that you scrape up the bits of browned chicken off the bottom of the skillet.  Add the minced garlic and cook another minute or so.

Black Bean Squash Chili 9Add the chili powder and cumin and stir until combined and the smell of the seasonings is released.

Black Bean Squash Chili 11Dump onion mixture on top of the chicken breasts.

Black Bean Squash Chili 12Add squash, beans, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and tomatoes to crock pot.  Cover and cook, preferably on low for 8 hours.

Black Bean Squash Chili 13After 8 hours, fish out the chicken breasts and remove them to a plate.  Shred with two forks and stir back into the chili so everything is evenly combined.

Black Bean Squash Chili 14Yummy in my tummy!  All the different textures in this were fantastic, and super comforting.  I could go for a bowl right now in fact, if I hadn’t just stuffed my face without Southwester Turkey Meatballs.  Yeah.  That’s a recipe you get to look forward to!!  But for now, make this gorgeous soup, curl up with a blankie…and thank me later.  😉