Snowed-in: Macaroni and Cheese

I absolutely adore a good snowstorm. Snowstorms are the perfect opportunity to pause and be home.
Unfortunately, the latest snowstorm hit as we were about to depart for a week in Texas; stranding us at home with relatively empty cupboards.
Okay, so there is always something to toss together or grab from the freezer in my house–but, another fab thing about snowstorms is the opportunity to cook something comforting and hearty.

I gathered the ingredients for this creamy, italian-esque macaroni and cheese from my pantry and some odds and ends in the refrigerator. Perfect for a snowy day or any day when you want to pretend to be snowed in and hide out at home.

The Goods

1 lb of penne (or whatever pasta shape you’ve got)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 canfuls of water
2 cups mozzarella cheese shreds
1 cup cheddar cheese shreds
1 tablespoon dried garlic seasoning (I used Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic)
Non-stick cooking spray
Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

For the topping:
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes OR small can of chopped tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (I always have a basil plant on my kitchen windowsill–it is a life saver!)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

Grated locatelli or parmesan cheese

The Work

Preheat oven to 350F

Boil water and prepare pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking make cheese sauce by mixing mushroom soup, water (use the can to measure water), cheese and garlic in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until cheese melts.

Spray a 9×12 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Drain and add cooked pasta. Pour in cheese sauce and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a thin dusting of breadcrumbs. Then, spray the top with cooking spray.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

While it is baking, prepare the topping. Mix tomatoes, garlic, basil, vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Top finished macaroni and cheese with tomato mixture and a heaping spoonful of locatelli cheese.