Monday, November 12, 2012

Apple & Cheddar Penne Pie

Apple & Cheddar Penne Pie?! Yeah, that's just a really fancy way of saying saying mac & cheese on steroids.  This is good, friends! This is very very good! Like you-could-serve-this-at-your-Thanksgiving-meal good......and maybe you should! I'm actually considering it! The apples in this "pie" give it a subtle sweetness that pairs so well with the savory cheddar and thyme. This Better Homes and Gardens dish will be made again and again in my house! I hope it will in yours, too!! Enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs (I used plain bread crumbs)
3 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme
12 ounces dried penne pasta (3 1/2 cups)
2 cups chopped apples (2 to 3 medium)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup apple cider
6 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut up
1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Sprinkle sides of pan with 1/3 cup of the panko to coat; set aside. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter. Stir the remaining 1/3 cup panko and 1 teaspoon of the thyme into melted butter; set aside.

2. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than directed by package directions; drain. Return pasta to pan; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook apples and onion in the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until tender. Add flour, salt, and pepper to saucepan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and apple cider. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Add cheeses and the remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme; stir until cheese melts.

4. Add sauce mixture to pasta; stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved panko mixture.

5. Bake, uncovered about 40 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Let stand on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Using a serrated knife, cut pie into eight wedges. If desired, top with fresh thyme sprigs. Makes 8 servings.

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