pasta al formaggio/macaroni and cheese
One thing is for sure. I am a creature of habit. Spontaneity is not a word I can say without stuttering through its syllables, while experiencing hot flashes. My predictability is quite foreseeable to the everyday Joe; the household items I use are even mostly the brands from my childhood. My pantry’s stash of trash bags, paper towels, and all-purpose anti-bacteria spray cleaner mirror’s moms.
It wasn’t surprising then, knowing my habits, that I almost blew right past the email about the Finish® Quantum® Finish Sticky Dish Challenge. Using Finish® Quantum® , after decades of using that other brand, seemed like blasphemy. But, there had been instances when the cleanliness of my dishes raised an eyebrow after a wash cycle. Then, there was the information in the email that mentioned a challenge, to make an amazingly tasty, messy, sticky, and difficult-to-clean meal with which the dishes could be used to put Finish to the test.
Tasty. Messy. Sticky. Tasty treats are not something I shy away from. My staff and their bellies know this! This Finish® Quantum® challenge, however, was perfect for me. A tasty, messy, sticky something is just what I needed to nurse my recently broken heart. While chocolate, cake, and even chips and dip comfort others dejection, I am all about pasta as my emotional pacifier. So, that is where I went…
My wallowing brought me to a Better Homes and Garden’s Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, using Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Organic Brown Rice Pasta. I altered the recipe a bit, but the result was (what I imagine would be) the same consoling goodness. Curled up on the couch, watching trashy reality television shows under my favorite blanket, feeding my belly with warm, gooey, cheese baked macaroni was where I needed to be at that moment. Him who? The memory of the “him” who caused me to shed a tear moved farther from my emotions with each bite. My version of Finished.
After my belly was full and my relationship woes concealed by smoked Gruyere cheese, I promptly fell into a comfort-food slumber. It was a good thing the #FinishRevolution Finish® Quantum® challenge called for a no-rinse response, wait-until-morning strategy. Since I fell asleep on the couch watching mindless TV, my pots, pans, and dishes sat on the counter and in the sink until I woke up for work at 4AM the next day. Admittedly, I was worried. I am a rinser. Not this day, though; the cheese had been left to dry-out and harden. And so, I ran my dishwasher and heading to work.
The result? Well, I was asked to showcase the honest, visual results.
A lot of cheese remained and stuck to several of my glass bowls. Because the washer was set on dry after the wash, the Gruyere was like cement. I ended up having to soak the bowls overnight to get them clean again.
That being said, I have used the dishwasher several times since then, using the Finish® Quantum® on new dirty dishes I rinsed before loading. I actually really like the clarity of my glasses and sparkle of my silverware. So, even with the comfort-food-cheese getting the better of the Finish® Quantum® in my dishwasher, the 3-chamber technology is worth my time again. Although I cannot promise that I won’t eventually go back to that other brand, I am going to join the #FinishRevolution for the time being to see how Finish® Quantum® continues with my miscellaneous dishwasher runs.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Garden
12 oz dried penne pasta
1 ½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (3 ½ cups)
2Tbsps. olive oil
2 ¾ cups milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
5 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
5 oz. smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1 large sweet onions, diced
Salt & pepper
½ cup crushed rye WASA crackers
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Lightly butter a 3-quart au gratin or baking dish; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, toss the squash in 1 Tbsp. oil, transfer to a sheet pan, and roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes. When done, add to pasta.
While the squash is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add onions. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to high. Cook 4 to 6 minutes more, stirring, until onions are golden. Add the milk and flour. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in cheeses until melted.
Pour cheese mixture into the pasta and squash. Carefully toss together to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle cracker crumbs over pasta mixture. Bake until top is browned, about 20-30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Disclaimer: I was provided with samples of the Finish® Quantum® , as well as a monetary certificate for purchases related to any or all dish(es) created. I am under no obligation to provide a post. NMS and Finish® adhered to FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials and expected me to be truthful in my review. All opinions noted here are my own, always.