Baked Fontina

This baked fontina (aka garlic cheese dip) is the best holiday-friendly cheese dip out there! For 60+ other Thanksgiving recipes, check out the Recipe Index.
Baked FontinaBrace yourselves for possibly the easiest appetizer you’ll ever come across.  I’d say this recipe is even easier than putting together a cheese platter because there is no agonizing over what cheeses to buy – wait…am I the only on who agonizes over things like this?  Anyway, for this baked fontina, you’ll cube some Italian fontina, chop some garlic and herbs, put everything in a cast iron pan, and pop it under the broiler for 6 minutes.  That’s it!  The result is a baked fondue of cheesy goodness that you can scoop up with hunks of bread, toasted sliced bread, or even crackers or Wheat Thins.  The garlic and herbs permeate throughout the cheese when it bakes and every bite has a blast of herby flavor.  It’s heaven…melted cheese heaven.

Baked Fontina

I made this for a Christmas Day appetizer last year, have made it a couple times since (a halved recipe in an 8″ cast iron pan), and I’ll be making it again for a Thanksgiving appetizer this year; it’s always a huge hit wherever I bring it.  Whether you’re hosting turkey day and want to work this into your menu or you plan to bring this to someone’s house, cube the cheese and chop the garlic and herbs in advance and keep them in airtight containers until you’re ready to bake.  Bring your cast iron pan with you (doesn’t everyone travel with kitchen equipment?) just in case your host doesn’t have one for you to use.  Since the recipe only needs 6 minutes under the broiler, you can even take the turkey out of the oven for a few minutes (cover it tightly with foil) and slip the pan in to bake.  Hot appetizers really don’t get any easier than this one and I can already anticipate how quickly this baked fontina will go on the appetizer table this year.

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Baked Fontina

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 10-12 appetizer servings

Be sure you use Italian fontina in this recipe. Danish fontina will not melt properly. If you absolutely can't find Italian fontina, brie (with the rind removed) will also work great here.


  • 1 1/2 lbs Italian fontina, rind removed and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Adjust top rack of the oven so that it sits about 5 inches under the broiler unit. Preheat broiler.
  2. Spread cheese out in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron pan. Drizzle olive oil over the cheese. Mix together the garlic and herbs in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the cheese.
  3. Bake for 6 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted through. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface - the pan will be hot! Serve immediately.


source: adapted from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten

Tara’s Ultimate: Mac n Cheese

Cheese is love. Is there any dish more comforting than mac n cheese? You’d be hard pressed to find someone to dispute this and even harder pressed to find 5 people who are in love with the same mac n cheese recipe. It seems like there are hundreds out there…some similar, some very different, some with one type of cheese, some with at least 7 types (really though, why complicate one of the most basic comfort foods?), some with veggies, some with tuna, some with meat, some out of a box with cheesy powder, some out of a box with cheesy goop…overall, it really could be considered one of the world’s most perfect dishes – dairy, carbs, protein, and veggies if one chooses to add them. What American doesn’t love mac n cheese?? (oh and PS – I didn’t arrange the cheese in the pic above in the shape of a heart; it just happened to fall that way as I was grating it.)

It’s been at least 6 months since I’ve made my traditional mac n cheese. However, in that time, I did find a recipe for a more sophisticated mac n cheese; one that calls for prosciutto but when I decided to make my favorite version, I didn’t feel like spending $20/lb on some extra protein for the meal. I was tempted to try Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Mac n Cheese after oddly enough catching that specific show on Food Network yesterday (last week I put mac n cheese on the menu for last night) but decided that since I hadn’t made mac n cheese in so long, I wanted to make sure that it was gonna be great – I passed over Tyler’s recipe for fear of it being too different and not satisfying our craving for good mac n cheese.

Now, a little background on this recipe…it’s not some secret family recipe that has been passed down through the ages. Simply enough, it comes from the back of the Mueller’s elbow macaroni box. However, it’s the only recipe my mom has used for years and as I was preparing to move out on my own (now nearly 6 years ago), the only thing I asked for was for my mom to write down the recipe. Instead, she cut it off the next box she used and slipped it in my Christmas stocking (I moved right after New Years). Growing up, she used to add tuna fish (canned) and peas to the dish to round it out as a full meal but I stick to the basics. So yes, if you’re wondering, I’m still using the exact recipe mom cut out for me (although I do tweak the types of cheese I use depending on what I have in the fridge – see below). When I misplaced the recipe card once a couple of years ago, I cut another one out of the Mueller’s elbow macaroni box and believe it or not, it wasn’t the same recipe! I about died when I realized that I didn’t have the “right” one and immediately got on the phone with my mom for some help. Luckily, the “right” one resurfaced a few months later and I now keep it in a very safe spot. So here’s my Ultimate Mac n Cheese….

Sophisticated Mac and Cheese

There’s not much of a better way to describe this dish that a sophisticated version of mac n cheese. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVED how this turned out but I think I expected something a little different from Giada than what the outcome was.

In Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook, she highlights a Bechamel sauce and then uses it in her Baked Rigatoni recipe. I guess I didn’t realize what the sauce really was because for some reason because before reading the recipe for the sauce, I had been intimidated to make it – it sounded too fancy. However, Giada’s recipe for Bechamel is practically the same sauce I use for my homemade mac n cheese recipe (I don’t add nutmeg to my sauce though). It’s the prosciutto that makes this a fancy mac n cheese, in my opinion. So really, the sauce was very easy – and it can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using it (even better!). I halved the sauce recipe and made about 3/4 lb pasta for the two of us (main course) and for leftovers.