With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we are officially in holiday season mode. Or as I like to refer to it: the season of perpetual eating. If you are on a diet right now, hold fast, because it won't be long before you will be falling off the band wagon...hard. And this week's recipe won't help either. It features enough cheese to feed a starving nation.
Thanksgiving with my parents is a real blast. To say that my family is "differentially populated" is an understatement.
My parents have four kids, eight grandchildren, no great-grandchildren as of yet but a whole host of cousins, aunts, uncles (one uncle alone has seven kids and, quite frankly, I've lost count of his grandkids), in-laws, significant others of the aforementioned family and an assortment of exes. Sometimes the exes bring their new girlfriend/boyfriend's children as well.
Apparently, being a member of my family is akin to going to the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. However, no dogs are allowed, and I hear we were assigned our own census taker in 2010.
During family get-togethers it's usually SRO. At Thanksgiving we serve no fewer than four large turkeys, and everybody brings a dish or two. I think the neighbors think we are running a soup kitchen.
So when my parents host a party for what feels like half the free world, my mom always rolls out one of her crowd-pleasing dishes. It truly feeds a crowd and weighs nearly as much as one of the birds. An excellent cook in her own right, this recipe was shared with her by a friend, and it has become a family favorite. A nod must go out to Joan's on Third, as this recipe clearly is nod to her very popular dish.
The kids in the family have taken to calling it Grandma's Cheese Thing. I shudder to guess just how many calories are in this dish, but I have to tell you that it is worth it! It will elicit a chorus of cheers at your holiday table and then you will thank me. It's actually a very simple recipe (mostly cheese, butter and pasta) and is almost impossible to ruin.
The recipe boasts close to three pounds of cheese and other dairy products. Everybody loves cheese, unless of course, if you are lactose intolerant.
Grandma's Cheese Thing
Inspired by Joan's on Third
- 1 pound spaghetti pasta
- 4 tbs butter
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 8 ounce tub of fresh ricotta cheese
- 8 ounce tub of whipped cream cheese
- 8 ounces of Mexican blend, shredded
- additional 4 ounces of Mexican Blend Cheese, shredded for top
- 8 ounces of Gouda Cheese, shredded
- additional 4 ounces of Gouda Cheese, shredded for top
- 1 cup good quality panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup fried onions (like the kind used in green bean casserole)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta in lightly salted water until al dente. In a large bowl combine the butter, milk, ricotta, cream cheese, 8 ounces each of Mexican Blend and Gouda cheeses. Salt and pepper to taste. After you drain pasta, return it to the pot. Add the cheese mixture to the pasta and gently fold to combine.
Pour the pasta/cheese mixture into a large baking dish (9 x 11 or larger). Evenly sprinkle the top with 4 ounces of Mexican Blend cheese.
In a clean bowl combine 1 cup panko bread crumbs, 1 cup friend onion bits and 4 ounces of shredded gouda cheese. Toss until well combined and the onions have broken up a bit. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole evenly.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.