Mac and Cheese--comfort food at its best!

The weather has turned cold, so it's time to break out the woolly sweaters, light a fire and eat something that makes you feel like you've been hugged.  For many of us, mac and cheese is THE dish that we turn to when we need a little food love. I made this dish for my family last night to highlight the gorgeous Cheese pumpkins that are available in markets now.  So called because they resemble a wheel of cheese, these squash have orange, sweet flesh. In this recipe, it's simmered in milk and vegetable stock until tender, then baked with pasta and cheddar cheese. Paired with spicy sausage and a kale salad, it's a hearty winter meal.

Macaroni and (Long Island) Cheese (Squash)s

1 lb long island cheese squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup 
vegetable stock
2 cups skim milk
1 lb macaroni, or other pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, (I used Cabot reduced fat cheddar)
3/4 cup low-fat ricotta
3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

1. Preheat Oven to 375
2. Heat squash cubes, milk and stock in a medium pan. Bring to a Boil, and reduce head to simmer.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. I like to cook my pasta a bit al dente, as it will be baked in the oven as well.
4. When squash is tender, remove from heat and mash squash.
5. Mix spices into mashed squash.
6. After pasta is done cooking, transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in squash mixture as well as cheddar and ricotta.
7. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs over top of dish.
8. Cover with foil & bake for 25 minutes.  Remove Foil and bake for 45 minutes. Dish is finished when the top is browned and crispy, heated well throughout.  Let cool slightly before serving.

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