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It’s a delicious, creamy dish, with a secret surprise inside…

Who would have ever thought I’d be adding green things to my mac and cheese?

Where, oh where has my little blog gone?

My goal was to create a comforting mac and cheese dish that packed a nutrient-rich punch and a whole slew of delicious autumn flavors. And it worked and worked and worked over again. I should know. I’ve only consumed that entire casserole dish.

Okay that is a tiny fib. I haven’t eaten all of it. Yet.

I’ve let Mr. How Sweet have a few tastes too. But just a few.

He doesn’t like fancy mac and cheese anyway. He only likes noodles + cheese sauce. Plain, plain, plain. That’s the name of Mr. How Sweet’s game. Well, at least it was until this past weekend.

He dug in with a spoon before I was even finished taking pictures. In fact, that very last picture waaaay down there is Mr. How Sweet digging in. Perhaps my foodieness is finally rubbing off on him?

Autumn Mac and Cheese

1 pound whole wheat pasta (I used shells)

1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes

1 large apple, peeled and chopped

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

2 cups brussels sprouts, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups milk

8 ounces cheese, grated (I used smoked cheddar)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more for topping

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay chopped squash and apples on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping once.

While the squash is roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and brussels sprouts with a pinch of salt and pan roast for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and begin to cook your pasta.

Set aside squash/apples and sprouts/onion mixture. If pasta is cooked, set it aside as well. Reduce oven heat to 350.

In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of butter on medium heat and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Add the milk while continuing to whisk, and begin adding cheese as well. I find that adding cheese in batches about 3 minutes apart works best. Continue to whisk together so the cheese melts and doesn’t stick to the bottom. The entire process takes about 10 minutes and you want the heat on medium-low, this will help thicken the cheese sauce. I find you don’t want it too thick, as it will thicken in the over.

Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Begin to layer pasta, vegetables and apples, and cheese sauce in batches, just mixing to make sure all is combined. Top with panko and another sprinkling of parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Anyone else’s favorite part the crunchy crust on top? I definitely hurry up and hog that part before someone else can get to it. Bonus points if there’s bacon.