So I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I'm going home for spring break next week. Now to most college students, going home elicits visions of warm, home-cooked meals prepared lovingly by mommy dearest. Not so in the Bruno household. Instead, what it means is that I have to come up with a week's worth of warm, home-cooked meals to prepare for my family. I swear I don't know what they eat while I'm gone. A lot of Chinese food, take-out pizza, Tex-Mex, Healthy Choice frozen meals and chicken cutlets, I imagine. None of which I eat. I have qualms with take-out namely because I don't like to spend money on food when I can prepare a better meal myself for less money and in less time. If I'm going out, I want it to be to a nice restaurant where I actually feel like I'm getting some quality out of what I'm putting into it. I really have a feeling that cooking my own meals has brought this out in me...back when I still ate dining hall food, take-out sounded great (in comparison!) but now that I'm cooking my own meals which I think taste pretty damn good, why should I even bother with something second-rate?
So I've been spending a bit of time this week trying to come up with a menu plan. This is where the hard part comes in because my family is full of picky eaters. My father doesn't like herbs or spices. Or so he says. I, on the other hand, can't live without herbs and spices. I mean HELLO - cilantro, cumin, basil, chives (okay he eats the last two but only in SEVERE moderation), curry, cardamom...where else does the flavor come from?!?!? My brother won't eat a meal that doesn't have meat in it and the only meat my sister will eat is chicken (and turkey if I push it). No one will eat beans except for my mother and, sometimes, my sister. And forget tofu and tempeh. They are considered to be the devil reincarnated. Not to mention the other staples in my diet - vegetables...that's a whole other war.
As you can see, I have my job cut out for me. And it makes me begin to understand why my mother stopped cooking. My general philosophy in getting through this has been that I can't please everyone every day and so they will just have to deal with it. I haven't finished the plan yet, but I will have by Friday (which is when I go home) because I need to figure out which spices/etc. I have to bring with me as my mother doesn't have any of them. So far the menu looks like this: Friday - tomato and herb crusted fillet of sole/garlic mashed potatoes with spinach (they are observing Lent), Saturday - spicy southwest turkey burger/southwestern corn pudding (vegan-style...this will be interesting)/roasted broccoli, Sunday - Mexican lasagna/some kind of vegetable, Monday - Tyler's gnocchi with peas, prosciutto, and ricotta (I figured I'll be sitting home alone all day so why not take on gnocchi!), Tuesday - a chicken dish - haven't decided yet, Wednesday - a pasta dish - haven't decided yet, Thursday - a pork dish, Friday - attempt to make whole wheat pizza dough (easy no-meat meal), Saturday - potentially go out to dinner. And somewhere in there, I am going to make a red velvet cake for my sister's birthday. The good news about all of this - LOTS of recipes to blog. The bad news - I guarantee that there will be at least one complaint about every item I make. Except for the cake.
So in preparation for the long haul ahead of me, I decided to make some comfort food. Now for me, comfort food includes either butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or eggplant. I knew there would be a severe lack of these over the next week, so I needed to binge on them this week. Hence when I remembered this recipe for what is essential a gorgonzola mac and cheese with butternut squash that I had found on Cooking Light's website, I knew I had a winner. Gorgonzola and butternut squash are a pretty common pairing in the culinary world and after eating this I knew why. The creamy tartness of the gorgonzola was cut really well by the sweet nuttiness of the squash. Some sage would have probably gone really with it as well, but I didn't think about until after the fact. I swear, though, after eating this, I convinced myself that I WILL get my family to eat some winter squash next week. They just don't know what they're missing.
I will be submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by the lovely Pam of Sidewalk Shoes, which is one of my favorite blogs.
Rotini with Butternut Squash in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from Cooking Light
14 oz multigrain rotini
20 oz diced butternut squash (I got one of the pre-cut packages since they were on sale)
4 oz gorgonzola
3 cups almond milk
3 tbsp flour
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1. Start to boil water for pasta. Cut up the onion and the garlic. In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil and melt the butter. Add in the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add the butternut squash, and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes and then covered until soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. The smaller the pieces are, the faster this will be. When these are done, set them aside.
2. In the same pan (or a different one if you don't mind having more dishes to clean :P) heat 2 cups of the milk until boiling. In a cup, mix together the last cup of milk and the flour until completely dissolved. Once the milk is boiling, slowly add in the milk/flour combo. Boil and then simmer until thickened, constantly stirring. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
3. When the pasta is done, strain it, and mix it with the butternut squash. When the milk has reached desired consistency, remove from the heat and add in the gorgonzola, mixing until it has melted into the sauce. Pour over the pasta.