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Are you as excited as I am that the holidays are here? I love Thanksgiving but what I’m REALLY excited about is Christmas! I’ve already started pulling out the Christmas decorations and can’t wait to deck the halls. This will be our first Christmas with the new kittens though and I’m pretty sure that every ornament on the tree is going to look like a cat toy to them. I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen to the poor citizens of our Christmas village. I think it may end up looking like it was attacked by Catzilla!
At least planning the menu will be easier, mostly because I’ve done it ahead of time this year. We’ll have the traditional ham for our main course but I’m trying out some new sides this year. Since everybody loves mac and cheese, I’m putting a new spin on it with this Cheesy Holiday Penne With Diced Peppers. It’ll already be delicious but the red and green peppers will give it a fun festive holiday look too.
Barilla Penne Pasta is my pasta of choice for this recipe. It’s a brand I trust because I know it’s high quality and it always tastes great. Plus, it’s the #1 choice of Italy and if the Italians love it, that’s good enough for me!
Of course, we’ll need wine for our holiday celebration too. We like our wine even when it’s not a holiday but we have to be sure to stock up when the family is coming. My family + hubby’s family = lots of wine flowing!
I love Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon for any occasion but especially for holiday entertaining. It’s an elegant but affordable California wine, which makes it the best of both worlds in my book. It also pairs well with just about everything and is going to taste amazing with my new pasta recipe. Since I thought I’d better test it out beforehand (who cares that I already knew it was going to be good), I poured myself a glass to enjoy while I was cooking.
You’ll want to start by preheating the oven and boiling the pasta. Once the pasta is finished, set it aside until later. It the meantime, dice the red and green peppers and cook, then crumble, the bacon. While you’re dicing the peppers, set aside a few and dice them more finely to use as garnish. It will make the dish will look extra Christmas-y…if that’s even a word. If not, I think it should be, don’t you?
Next, melt the butter over the stove, then stir in the flour. Once the butter and flour are mixed well, add the milk.
Cook on high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (about 3-4 minutes). Add cheese, salt and pepper and keep stirring until the cheese is smooth and creamy. Pour over pasta.
Finally, stir in the peppers and bacon
Pour the pasta mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake uncovered at 375° for 20 minutes, then broil for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the cheese turns deliciously golden and bubbly! Finally, sprinkle on the finely diced peppers and your pasta is ready to serve. This is definitely a dish you’ll want to serve right out of the oven.
- 8 oz. uncooked Barilla penne pasta
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1/4 cup for topping)
- 1¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (1/4 cup for topping)
- 4 slices crumbles bacon
- ⅓ cup diced red peppers
- ⅓ cup diced green peppers
- 2 tbsp finely diced red & green peppers for garnish
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 375
- Cook pasta according to directions on package, transfer to large bowl and set aside
- Melt butter over stove
- Stir in flour
- Add milk and stir over high heat until it thickens (3-5 minutes)
- Stir in 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup mozzarella cheeses, salt & pepper and stir until melted
- Pour cheese mixture over pasta, stirring until creamy & smooth
- Stir in bacon and diced peppers
- Transfer pasta mixture to baking dish and top with remaining cheese
- Bake uncovered at 375 for 20 minutes
- Broil for 2-3 minutes, until top is slightly brown and bubbly
There are so many things you can do with Barilla pasta that I could probably make a new recipe every day for a year! Check out the Barilla page to find more recipe inspiration.
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