Get ready to see something messy.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells I

I have no idea how one is supposed to be able to photograph stuffed shells, but it seemed messier than the time I spilled two of my Wet n’ Wild nail polishes plus had an exploded lip gloss in my caboodle that housed all the string for my friendship bracelets.

This was a massive problem as it inhibited me from sticking the edges of the thread into my caboodle clasp so I could make a candy stripe, then left me absolutely begging my mom to take me to Hills.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells I

Please tell me you had a Hills near you when growing up. Hills was like the… old Target. I used to coerce my mom into taking me there where I would spend hours ooogling over school supplies and the huuuuge Bonne Bell and Wet n’ Wild makeup racks.

Oh my gawwwwwd. It was heaven.


Then… sometimes on Friday nights… my dad would take my brothers and me there to get Coke slushies and hot dogs. Seriously… that was like the best thing ever. I have no idea what the equivalent of that would be today but I’m sure it wouldn’t be good and would be highly frowned upon.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells I

And the best part of Hills would be that every.single.time you went there would be some kid pitching an absolute FIT, screaming at the top of their lungs, running around and throwing the tantrum of the century. Probably all over some toy they weren’t allowed to buy. Total Hills tantrum. Total hilarity.

I probably think that is really comical since I have yet to procreate. Right?

I know.

I’ll get what’s coming to me.


Back to this wet and wild mess of shells – it’s simply the squash mixture that I’ve become joined at the hip with since I made butternut lasagna and baked butternut penne. I cheated again, but it just feels too good.

You must make. It’s sooo delicious that you’ll cry yourself to sleep.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells I


Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Yield: makes 20 stuffed shells, serves about 4


20 jumbo shells
2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

for bechamel
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/4 pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

for topping
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
10-15 sage leaves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place butternut squash on a baking sheet and toss with salt, pepper, nutmeg and olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, flip, then roast for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and mash with a fork or potato masher until almost pureed.

Boil water and prepare shells according to directions. Mine called for 9 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside to cool. While pasta is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter, garlic and shallots. Whisk until brown bits appear in the butter, then mash into the butternut squash, along with the mascarpone and and tablespoon of parmesan. Spray a baking dish (8×8) or pie plate with nonstick spray. Spoon about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons (depending on the size of your shells) of squash into each shell, then lay in the dish. Repeat.

To make the bechemal, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Once sizzling, whisk in flour and cook until golden and a nutty aroma appears. Add milk and parmesan and let come to a simmer while whisking constantly. Once sauce has thickened, stir in nutmeg and taste – add salt and pepper if desired. Pour mixture over top of shells, then add mozzarella and sage. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells I

Have fun on this amateur night Thanksgiving Eve. !

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144 Responses to “Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells.”

  1. #
    Shan — November 23, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    OMG! One other poster said it right…Hills was where the toys were! I literally lived a block away from Hills and went at least once a week–frequently more often in the summer when I could just walk down there. Bought my first 45 record there and a few months later, my first ‘stereo’ which was a turntable with small speakers. I remember saving up money for Teen Skipper and Pretty in Pink Barbie ($7.99!) LONG racks of Garanimals clothes along with pretty much anything else you’d ever want to wear. Good times. I miss Hills…

    BTW, I love your blog. It makes me laugh everytime I read it. Great photos, great recipes. Thanks for all your hard work on it.


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

      Thank you so much Shan!


  2. #

    Yum! This looks SO GOOD! What a creative twist on a classic. Butternut squash is one of my favorite fiber-licious foods – pair it with pasta and I’m in heaven. I can’t wait to give this a try!


  3. #
    M. Peterson — November 23, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

    We had a Hills! And it was WAY better than Target, but I agree that Target is the closest current equivalent. It’s just that Hills had, like, the WHOLE collection of Lisa Frank stationery, including the stamps.

    And I think the equivalent food treat nowadays would probably be Sonic. Or Starbucks. Kids today are way classier than when we were kids. I liked getting the popcorn.

    Also, this dish/post almost makes me want to eat butternut squash. Almost. I’ll just keep it for my baby for now.


  4. #
    Jen Marie — November 23, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Funny! It took me a while to figure out what you were talking about. I’m glad you let us Midwesterners know what the Hills is. :)

    My daughter loves Target and their kid’s make up section. Actually, I bought her first Caboodle for her this Christmas, filled with fun starter make up. I think I’m more excited than she will be! :) LOL


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

      That makes ME so excited!


  5. #
    Katie — November 23, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    You make me want to swim in butternut squash mixture. And a coke slushy.


  6. #
    Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats — November 23, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    I’ve never heard of the Hills, but definitely a fan of Target! Shells look delicious.


  7. #
    rose — November 23, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    wow these look soo creamy and good! i love squash.. i’m not a huuge pasta person, like it has to be mixed with something i love and this looks kinda perfect :)
    i don’t know what Hills is (besides the awesome show) because i am Canadian, but i bought my caboodles and lip smackers at K-Mart, or Bi-Way (like a K-Mart) or the local Shoppers (drug store chain)…
    oh and also my best friend and i collected lip smackers like crazy, and we gave them names (like “strawberry” but still) and they had talent shows and beauty contests and got in fights and stuff. LOL… not sure why i just admitted that in the internet to someone i don’t know haha.. but i thought it was worth sharing. true story ;) also i once bought her the massive size lip smackers for christmas or smtg, it was like a foot and a half ong strawberry one!!


  8. #
    [New Balance] Nicole — November 23, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    Those look amazing!!!!


  9. #
    Emmy (Wine and Butter) — November 23, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

    I think you did a great job photographing – Im totally hungry right now!

    Also, we are making your cranberry biscuits as an appetizer of sorts for our thanksiving meal (which we are having on December 3rd, but I live in the Uk K?). Anyways – I cant wait for them!

    Hope you have a wonderful day!


  10. #
    Samantha — November 23, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

    OMG I can’t wait to try this!! I make a different butternut squash puree (I roast 2 sweet potatoes, 2 carrots and an onion with the squash and add rosemary, sage, half & half & chix broth to the mix) but I never thought to stuff shells with it. Genius, you are!


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

      That puree sounds incredible.


      • Samantha — November 23rd, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

        Thank you! It makes a ton and I freeze some, use it as pasta sauce and sometimes soup and I mix it into mac & cheese too. I used it for your butternut squash lasagna (which was also such a great idea!)

  11. #
    Emily — November 23, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    Hi Jessica! I really enjoy reading your daily food blog. I wanted to wish you, Mr. How Sweet and your extended family a very Happy Thanksgiving!


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

      Thanks so much Emily! Same to you.


  12. #
    JulieinMI — November 23, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Amateur night, you’re so funny! Happy Thanksgiving!


  13. #
    Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes — November 23, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    I need to try this! Happy Thanksgiving!!!


  14. #
    Susan — November 23, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    I made the Penne last week and it was amazing. I ate it three days in a row. So happy I have a recipe to use up the marscapone cheese on! Love your recipes. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

      Thanks Susan – so glad you liked it!


  15. #
    Allie M — November 23, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    Hills! <3 Total gem of childhood. I remember going there and playing hide-and-seek in the clothing racks with kids I didn't know. The best part was definitely hot dogs and slushies.

    Total shame Gabes got rid of their food bars; loved their hot pretzels!

    And what about Woolworths? It was a high-class D&K!


    • Jessica — November 23rd, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

      We always played hide and seek in the clothes racks too! Never went to Gabes, but we did have Woolworths. :)


  16. #
    sue — November 23, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    Oh that looks so good, I need to try squash one day.


  17. #
    Moni'sMeals — November 23, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

    Okay seriously…wow! This is perfect for both Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve, and Xmas Eve too.

    Well done!!


  18. #
    brianna — November 23, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    i miss the way Hills smelled when you walked in – just like buttery awesome popcorn! ohio valley shopping nostalgia for the win!


  19. #
    Zesty Cook — November 23, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    Awesome, and a perfect way to de-turkey after the holidays.


  20. #
    Macaroni and Cheesecake — November 23, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    This sounds Ah-Mazing!! And I loved my caboodle back in the day!:)


  21. #
    Elaine — November 23, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    I used to work in the Hills shoe department as a teen. The keds knock-offs were a big seller.
    Recipe looks great – can’t wait to try!


  22. #
    Lesley — November 23, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

    Hills rocked! We’d go every time I visited my gramma in Uniontown/Hopwood area!!! Ever hit Pechins, before it burned, for the ten cent pierogi or the quarter hamburgers??


  23. #
    Janie — November 23, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

    My father always told me one of his favorite special meals his mother would make, for the holidays, was a pumpkin (or w. squash) ravioli. I bet he would have liked this…


  24. #
    Kristy Lynn @ Gastronomical Sovereignty — November 23, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

    i’ve been thinking about stuffing some shells myself! this is a great idea :) we’ll see what kind of squash i get in the CSA next.


  25. #
    nicole {sweet peony} — November 23, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    bechamel. bechamel. i love bechamel. <– that's my theme song for bechamel.

    yummmmm i want this nowwwww. and i want that adorable little orange spoon you have :)

    happy thanksgiving jessica!


  26. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — November 23, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I made your baked penne tonight and I’m obsessed too. Shells sounds like the next best thing!


  27. #
    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking — November 23, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

    Jessica, Jessica, Jessica. I love you!
    I adore butternut squash ravioli, but think it’s too complicated for me to make, so these stuffed shells would be unbelievable! I will definitely be making them next week! I CANNOT wait!!!
    I hope you and Mr. How Sweet have the most amazing Thanksgiving!


  28. #
    idiosyncraticeye — November 24, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    I’ve done cheeses and ‘meat’ fillings before but this is very original. Would work great in cannelloni too. :)


  29. #
    Leanne — November 24, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    Hills had the best snack bar! I used to dip my hot pretzels in my Coke slushies and it was uhe best thing ever. Also in 1997 my hs boyfriend found a pair of Skidz khaki pants in Hills for $20. he couldn’t wear them anywhere w/o being offered money for them. Seriously.

    I miss Hills…


  30. #
    HeatherChristo — November 24, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    um, just gorgeous. and delicious.

    I am thankful today for your hilarious and tasty blog! Happy Thanksgiving Jessica!


  31. #
    kerry — November 24, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    I am very disappointed that you didn’t add any bacon to this! Bacon and butternut squash taste awesome together! :)


  32. #
    Lisa [With Style and Grace] — November 24, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

    holy yum!


  33. #
    Jess — November 24, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

    Ha! I’m glad some one else remembers hills! My favorite part about the store was their christmas display. It always seemed extra magical.


  34. #
    Abby — November 25, 2011 @ 5:54 am

    Wow. Caboodles? Hills? Friendship bracelets? It’s like my childhood just came back and flat-palm-slapped me upside the head!!! Awesome. Now I’m TOTALLY going to dig out my old caboodle and wet-n-wild makeup when I visit my parents over Christmas, because it is all deeefinitely still stashed in the attic somewhere, *justincase* I might ever need it again.


  35. #
    Jamie (Thrifty Veggie Mama) — November 27, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    Must make these soon! Luckily my parents just gave me some butternut squash from their garden.


  36. #
    Erin — November 28, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    I am so in love with this recipe! The creamy sauce over the stuffed shells!? Drool.


  37. #
    Rocky Mountain Woman — November 30, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

    I came over from Barbara Bakes and I have to tell you that I am so making this tonight, crying myself to sleep will be worth it!!!


  38. #
    Willa@ArmstrongFamilyFare — December 3, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    Oh, this looks good! Last weekend we made butternut squash ravioli, it was good…but my arms were sore. Pasta dough is not easy to roll out! Next time, I’m going this route! It may be hard to photograph, but at least my arms will still have enough strength to lift the camera! :)

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  39. #
    Kat — December 5, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    I know that this is totally not your intended audience but my 10 month old would LOVE these! I’m so pinning this ;)


  40. #
    Jesse @ Happy Go Lucky Vegan — December 18, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

    Wow – I’m enamored!! I’ll have to find some way to veganize this pronto!


  41. #
    Everyday Art — January 29, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    YUM!! Just made this today and it was fabulous. I have a kid who is allergic to dairy, so for her portion I used chicken broth rather than the marscapone cheese, and then I put goat cheese on top for her, and she gobbled it up. :) As for the rest of us, we thought it was perfect just the way it was.


  42. #
    Emily — February 19, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    This recipe was fabulous!!! I have one adjustment, though, that definitely did not work from the recipe. I ended up cubing 5c of squash to roast (hopeful for leftovers)…but after I mashed half of it I realized that wouldn’t be nearly enough, so I ended up using all 5c, which only filled 12 shells. I’d recommend measuring 8-10c of raw squash for the recipe. You can never have too much filling!

    Thanks for the recipe…I’ll be moving onto your butternut squash and sweet potato lasagna next ;)


  43. #
    LauraHelen — June 6, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    You forgot the BEST part of Hills – the floors. They were mostly dirty white tiles but alternated strips of pink and green. The green were crocodiles and the pink were piranhas. I would spend my entire time jumping from safe shore to safe island…. And then follow it with a hot dinner of popcorn because Hills had the best popcorn.


  44. #
    Cynthia — October 11, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

    My boyfriend and I made this tonight and it was AMAZING! Perfect for a crisp fall night :) We doubled the recipe for the filling but other than that, we didn’t change a thing! Thanks and I look forward to trying more of your recipes :)


  45. #
    Emily : — October 15, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    This dish was heavenly! My family loved it, even my three year old daughter. I liked it so much I included it on my weekly meal plan at Thank you!


  46. #
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie — December 19, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    I just noticed that you do not indicate how much Parmesan to put in the sauce in the ingredeint list.



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