Fontina & Mushroom Mac n’ Cheese

Even though it’s not quite Christmas yet, I’ve already received two presents!  The first came in the form of a visit from a good friend, which, in my opinion, is one of the best things you can receive from someone you aren’t able to see very often because they moved from the East Coast to Texas.  The second present technically isn’t a present (because I paid for it) but getting it in the mail was so exciting that it felt like a gift.  Our “Save the Date” magnets arrived!!  And they are adorable.  I can’t wait to send them out, though it also means I have to buy a ton of stamps and harvest addresses from our invitees.

My cookie baking marathon was a success, filling my kitchen with fabulous aromas and Vince Guaraldi music.  I apologize for it not taking place earlier, because they won’t make it up here until after the holidays have gone by.  Luke and I are going on our first couples “vacation” Christmas night until Tuesday night up at Sunday River in Maine.  I haven’t skied in a while (read: 8 years), but I’m pumped to get back on the slopes.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve…so why am I posting about mac n’ cheese you ask?  Well,  why not?  Mac n’ cheese is the ultimate comfort food, warm, cheesy, and always there to pick you up when you’re feeling down.  Or make you even happier when you’re feeling fine to begin with.  On that note, may your holiday be filled with comfort, be it the kind covered with cheese or perhaps covered in frosting and sprinkles.  Either way, Merry Christmas!

Fontina & Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 lb. small or medium pasta shells ( I used penne)
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
salt
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (I omitted these)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions just until 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, dice 4 tablespoons of the butter and place in a large mixing bowl.  Warm the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave.  Cover to keep warm.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl with the butter and toss to coat well.  Stir in the warm cream and the fontina until the cheese starts to melt.  Mix in salt to taste, and add the nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish.  In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Mix in the panko breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan.  Toss with a fork to coat evenly with the butter.  Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

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