Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Italian Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is an all-time comfort food.

I realize this statement is not a breakthrough thought. I haven't spoken an unknown truth. I'm only restating what's been said by millions before me. But none the less, it is a FANTASTIC choice of comfort... wouldn't you agree? :)

I haven't experimented much with mac and cheese variations, but I see them all over food blogs and I long for bites to be fed to me straight through the computer screen. I cannot even begin to tell you how many I have flagged, bookmarked, and archived... proclaiming that I would try them all! Up until now, I have tried out a total of big-fat-zero. Shame on me. I couldn't withstand the wait any longer, and I'm so happy my procrastination finally fell short. Wow. Speechless. So. Darn. Good! 

The great thing about this amazing dish is that every recipe for mac and cheese can easily be modified to your liking. For instance, this recipe originally called for Fontina cheese. But when I saw the Kraft package of Italian Five Cheese blend, my heart thumped with excitement. Five Cheeses. Hello! Does that not sound utterly delicious?! I made a couple other adjustments to the recipe, and voila - masterful!

1 (1 lb) box pasta shells
1 tbsp sea salt
5 tbsp butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 (8oz) package Kraft Italian Five Cheese 
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and pasta shells; stir to separate. Cook 1 minute less than instructed on package.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. Dice 4 tablespoons of butter and place in a large mixing bowl.Warm cream in microwave and cover to keep warm. Once pasta is cooked, drain water and add pasta to the bowl with the butter; toss to coat well. Add cream and cheese, stirring until cheese begins to melt. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add bread crumbs and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle mixture over top of pasta.  Bake 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats


Blog is the New Black on January 19, 2011 at 8:31 AM said...

Lindsey, this looks great! I love homemade mac and cheese! Esp with your Italian cheeses- that sounds like a winner!

Mary at n00bcakes on January 19, 2011 at 8:42 AM said...

I think I need to give up mac and cheese ever being healthy; I think I'm deceiving myself. And I bet a recipe like this would make me not care. ^_^

Sandra on January 19, 2011 at 9:23 AM said...

Anything pasta is my favorite..I love your photo and recipe!!!

Annie on January 19, 2011 at 9:59 AM said...

Your mac and cheese is to die for! It looks so yummy with the toasty breadcrumbs on top! I too love using shells in macaroni and cheese, they seem to hold the sauce better.

Anonymous said...

I love it! I am such a big mac and cheese fan! This recipe sounds so good!

Tiffany on January 19, 2011 at 11:12 AM said...

Mmmm, Italian cheeses and panko! What a great fusion!

Steph on January 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM said...

Please come to my house and make this for me!! I am craving some!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake on January 19, 2011 at 11:52 AM said...

Oh, yum! Lent will be here before I know it and this will be the first meatless dish I make! It looks fabulous...simple and comforting.

Kate @ on January 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM said...

I think I found a new fave mac 'n cheese recipe - thank you! It sounds oh soooo good!

Amy Bakes Everything on January 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM said...

Love this recipe! Mac n cheese is my sons' favorite!

Christina on January 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM said...

I love this kind of mac & cheese! Perfect comfort food!

Cookin' Canuck on January 19, 2011 at 11:51 PM said...

The crunch of the panko bread crumbs on top definitely make for a wonderful mac & cheese.

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE on January 19, 2011 at 11:54 PM said...

YUM! It sounds so addictive! Can't wait to try it!

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