Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese, plus an Internal Dialogue while I Cook

We’ve got some butternut squash (and pumpkins and the like) from our garden that need to be used up.  It’s been sitting on the counter for a few days–I’ve been avoiding it.  But, today, I was inspired to cook it up into something delightful.  After I finished, I realized that I follow a strikingly similar pattern every time I cook, and here it is:

“Good Lord I am hungry.  I wonder what I should make for dinner.”  *text the hub-dubs: Dude, what are we going to eeeeeat tonight?

Silence.  No surprise.

Then I find a recipe, and today’s magic hunger-bullet is butternut squash mac-n-cheese.  So then I call the hub-dubs for an opinion.  He tells me he thinks it sounds awful.  Then I tell him to cut up the squash for me (please).

Image

He took a photo.  I’m impressed (I also have no editing software on this computer.  So it goes.).

Even in its infancy, this recipe is going to be “tweanked.” You can thank my favorite mother-in-law for that term, by the way.  Here’s why: the recipe calls for ricotta cheese.  Know where ricotta cheese is at? The store.  Know where I am NOT going on my way home from work? The store.  People put cottage cheese in lasagna all the time instead of ricotta.  This has pasta, ergo, it’s pretty much the same thing as lasagna.  Plus, cottage cheese is in my fridge.  Win.

Image

Full disclosure: I eyeballed the chicken broth in here.  Totally, completely guessed.  I did measure out the squash though, which is a good thing because I ended up using about half of it.  I’m not totally out of my mind.

If by ‘simmer for about twenty minutes’ this recipe means ‘boil until you are finished doing dishes’ and ‘mash’ means ‘blenderize the heck out of it,’ then I followed this recipe to a T.

Image

Speaking of T, I lost my T spoon, so I measured everything with my t spoon.  I’d really like to know where my T spoon is at though.  I feel a bit crippled without it, plus it means my really nice set of stainless steel measuring spoons is incomplete.

Ok, so up until now I’ve, you know, mostly followed the recipe.  But it says this cheesy goodness needs to bake for 20 minutes covered and an additional 30-40 minutes uncovered at 375 degrees.  Please child, this is going in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes.  In my dutch oven.  Because I just got it for Christmas and have been dying to use it–I also boiled my noodles in it and thought, “sweet, less dishes.”

IMG_0731

Oops.  Forgot to add the spices about two steps ago.  Also forgot to measure them.  This looked a bit too bland for me, so I threw in a couple handfuls of jalapenos and a splash of the juice for some extra zing.

IMG_0732

Well, looks like that turned out just fine, doesn’t it? Once you know the rules, you can break them to your heart’s content and tweank whatever you want.

I think I’ll make this dish again, little (and big) changes and all.  The hub-dubs was skeptical, but even he said it rocked his socks off.  Yesssssssss.

Knit Cowgirl Booties

It’s been awhile.  I’ve been on vacation, which means a) I don’t spend a lot of time online, and b) I am knitting.  But now I’m back and I’ve made a pattern I loooooove:

Image

Are these not adorable?

A friend of mine is having a baby girl, and a baby girl born in Wyoming only deserves baby cowgirl booties.  These booties were inspired by baby uggs with a few changes. 

I knit these on size three needles with stash yarn.  The soles are made from Caron Simply Soft, and the light brown and light pink are some sort of baby yarn I found in my drawer.  I used a single strand of simply soft and double strands of the smaller yarn.  I didn’t make a gauge, but I would venture to guess these fit a 3-month old or so.  I have no touchstone for this though because I have no babies.  It’s a total guess.  The original pattern can be found here.

If you’ve never knit booties before, don’t worry–they’re easy and I took photos so you can see along the way if you’re doing it right.

Abbreviations:

k: knit

m1: make one (however you wish–I cast on one)

bo: bind off

ssk: slip, slip, knit

k2tog: knit two together

skp: slip one stitch, knit one, pass slipped stitch over

First, with your sole color, cast on 26 stitches and knit one row.  

R 1 (right side): k1, m1, k11, (k1, m1) twice, k11, m1, k1

R 2-10 (wrong sides): k

R 3: k2, m1, k11, m1, k2, m1, k3, m1, k11, m1, k2

R 5: k3, m1, k11, (k4, m1) twice, k11, m1, k3

R 7: k4, m1, k11, m1, k5, k1, k6, m1, k11, m1, k4

R 9: k5, m1, k11, (m1, k7) twice, k11, m1, k5

So far, you’ll have something like this (hopefully less blurry–if it’s this blurry, put some glasses on):

Image

Then switch to your second color (light brown on my boots) and knit 8 rows in stockinette stitch (k on right side, p on wrong side).  Then you are going to make the toe as follows:

Row 1: k 29, SKP, turn.
Row 2: sl 1, p 7, p 2 tog, turn.
Row 3: sl 1, k7, SKP, turn.
Rows 4 –13: repeat rows 2 and 3 five times.
Row 14: repeat row 2.
Row 15: sl 1, k7, SKP, knit to the end of the row.
Row 16: p 21, p 2 tog, purl to the end of the row (35 stitches).

I love this pattern because you don’t have to wrap and turn.  That is something I hate because I can’t do it. 

Anywho, your bootie should look like this now:

Image

Then, switch you your upper color and knit 14 rows in stockinette stitch.  Then, shape the upper detail:

R 1: k2, ssk, k5, k2tog, k13, ssk, k5, k2tog, k2

R 2: k3, ssk, k3, k2tog, k16, ssk, k3, k2tog, k3

R 3: Loosely BO4, k3, turn, p4, BO 16, k3, turn, p4, BO to end (this last line is a bit sketchy–I sort of forgot to count the stitches in the row–basically, BO to the decreases, knit those, turn and purl, BO to the next decrease set, do the same thing, and BO to the end)

Sew up the seams with a mattress stitch.  Take a small-ish crochet hook and with your toe color single crochet once around the top.  Your boot will look like this:

Image

Almost done!

If you wish, turn the boot so the toe is facing you and duplicate stitch with the pink a little way down in a sort of inverse pyramid.  I did this, but you really can’t tell.  It’s pretty cowgirly now, but we can still add a little bling.  I found a bit of sparkly yarn in my stash and decided to add a bit of detail.  I embroidered a little star on the outside edge of each boot and then I crocheted a small toe detail (ch5, 1sc in each st, ch1, turn, 1sc in each st, finish off) and sewed it to the toe:

Image

You have a lot of freedom here with the detail.  You could embroider some scroll things, you could duplicate stitch a line running down the side–look at cowboy boots online and draw your inspiration from there. 

Hopefully the babies you make these for will enjoy them as much as you enjoyed making them!

Image