Double Date Night (Day)

Lucy & Ethel were at it again this weekend!  Our regular Thursday date didn’t happen this week so we made up for it over the weekend.  We had a ladies night on Friday with a bunch of great gals, food and handbags…..  Mmmmmmmm handbags……….  *drool*   Sorry!!  We love a good bag.  That’s for a whole other day.  Anyways…..

We had arranged for a double date with Ricky and Fred about a month ago (yes, we are all that busy!).  What initially started out as dinner and a movie morphed into a whole day which was filled with laughing, cooking, a little exercise and some good old-fashioned sibling bonding.    The men went to work on a car and ladies spent the afternoon in the kitchen trying new recipes.  Perfect!  We decided on a menu for the evening and got to work.  We planned mac ‘n cheese, green beans and pulled pork from this great AMAZING local smoke house.  When we say amazing, we mean the best pulled pork north of the Mason-Dixon line!  The food was all delicious but we did have one mis-hap…

Mumford 2013

The kale chips didn’t turn out very well.  At least not to our tastes…..  That’s us, putting out the fire…  Of course, Lucy made sure Ethel was tossing the bucket of water of the flames……(Note: we did not have an actual fire. This is us at a random historical village nearby. Yes, our family takes school-like field trips on weekends.  No laughing. Try it, you might learn something!  )

Our failed kale chips...  It's not always sunshine and rainbows in the kitchen.  We do have failures from time to time.

Our failed kale chips… It’s not always sunshine and rainbows in the kitchen. We do have failures from time to time.

On to the good food. Again, the mac ‘n cheese started because Ethel had butternut squash that needed to be used.  In case you didn’t know, we both take part in separate CSA (Community Support Agriculture) groups.  This was the first year for us and there have been some benefits but it really pushes us to use vegetables that we don’t normally have around, such as leeks and butternut squash.  The butternut squash had to be used because more was coming.  Leave it to Ethel (our resident veggie guru) to find a mac ‘n cheese made with a butternut squash based cheese sauce.  The internet is a wonderful thing! We found a recipe at www.shape.com and got to work.

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Ingredients:

1 package whole-wheat macaroni or cavatappi, cooked

1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash, boiled and pureed

1 cup low-fat organic milk

1 tablespoon organic butter or butter alternative

3 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt

1 cup grated part-skim sharp cheddar

1/2 cup grated gruyère cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the butternut squash puree in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the milk, butter, and yogurt and continue to stir until incorporated.
  2. When the puree begins to simmer, slowly start adding the cheeses, mixing the entire time. When all of the cheese is melted and the sauce begins to thicken, season with a little salt and pepper, to taste. Taste and season until the desired flavor is achieved.
  3. When the flavor is spot-on, stir in 1/4 of the macaroni at a time.
  4. When all of the pasta is saturated with the cheese sauce, transfer the mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot!

Our results were a great flavor, but the texture left something to be desired. (We have major texture issues. We are sensitive to these things. ) We decided that the culprit of the grainy texture was the Greek yogurt called for in the recipe. It was supposed to be added while the sauce was quite hot. Of course, the yogurt curdled immediately. We aren’t sure if the recipe would be better if the yogurt was added after the sauce had cooled somewhat or if we omitted the yogurt altogether, but we will keep you posted should we attempt this one again. We also didn’t have any gruyere so we used the cheeses we had on hand. ANYWAYS…

Ethel added her garlic green beans to the menu.  Again, more CSA veggies needed to be used…  Ethel has been making these green beans for the last month or two for the family and they are a big hit.  They are super simple make and take about 10 minutes.  Who could ask for a better side dish?!

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Spicy Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans, ends removed and washed

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of fresh garlic, slivered

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flake, or less depending on taste

2 tbsp. grated Romano cheese

In a medium pot, fill with water and bring to a roiling boil.  Add in green beans.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt butter and heat oil over medium.  Add in garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain green beans and toss to coat in garlic oil.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until fully cooked.  Add in cheese.  Serve immediately.

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These beans are DELICIOUS and so good for you. Paired with our veggie mac (we added broccoli to the mac and cheese because that’s the way we like it ;)), pulled pork and a good glass of red wine, we were quite satisfied. Fred and Ricky went in for seconds on everything so we can definitely count this dinner “date” as a success! We finished our night with popcorn and a movie, but popcorn recipes (yet another obsession due to our air poppers!) are for another installment. Thanks for reading!

~Lucy & Ethel

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