the mother of all comfort food (i.e. baked mac ‘n cheese)

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty ‘meh’
Originally I was thinking it may be due to lack of sleep, because I can be really fun when I’m tired (ask James) – so it seemed like a logical excuse.
But then I realized more likely it could be this: I wake up and it’s dark out. I get ready and rush to work in below freezing temps that make my fingers turn bone-white, and then throb like someone hit them with a hammer when they thaw out. (Raynaud’s Syndrome. It’s fun. Apparently I have it.) Then I sit on my butt all day (which my temperament is not designed for) and I type, and I stress, and I sit, and I write briefs and I answer phones, and I stress out some more, and I work and work and work. 
Then it hits 5pm and I glance out the window overlooking downtown Chicago – and realize that it’s dark out again. 
I must say that most years I don’t get the winter blues much. I’ll have days when I feel off – but never for this long. I’ve been trying to think positively to reverse this state I’m in – but nothing seems to shake it for some reason. 
Nothing – that is – until I made the mother of all comfort foods…. homemade baked mac ‘n cheese
Oh yes people. It is as amazing as it sounds. And it has magical powers that lift you out of your sulky, somber mood and turn you into a relaxed, happy and optimistic person. Because the world just looks better after you’ve eaten your weight in cheese. Oh yes… It does. 
And you guys know I’m not just going to tell you how amazing it is – I’m going to give you the recipe and show you how to make it so you can turn into an equally happy person! 🙂
I find my cooking abilities (and mood) are much better if I start to whole process with these two things… a glass of wine and some good dancing tunes… 🙂
Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and boil water in a large pot. Add 2 cups of elbow macaroni to boiling water. (We used different noodles, as you can see… and because they are less dense than elbow macaroni when measuring them out – I used about 2 1/2 to 3 cups instead.)
In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. When melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of dry mustard. (We didn’t have dry mustard, so I substituted with 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.)
Stir until thoroughly blended. Gradually add in 2 1/2 cups of milk. (I added 1/2 cup at a time and whisked the mixture in between each time.) Continue stirring and cooking until mixture thickens slightly. 
Add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese to the milk mixture and stir until melted.
Strain pasta and add to milk and cheese mixture.

 (Mmmmm…. gooey, cheesy goodness.)

Put cheese and pasta mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
Eat it up and enjoy!! 🙂  (If you have similar tastes to James and I – you’ll want to add a pinch of pepper to the mixture and perhaps a bit of garlic powder. Or you could just let it cook and add toppings afterwards to suit your taste.) 🙂 
**(I should note that James and I, being the big eaters we are, ate nearly the entire dish for dinner. ha! James said… Why didn’t you make the whole batch? It’s almost gone! I said… I DID make the entire batch! haha. Let me just say – that I’m scared to see how much food we’re going to go through someday when we have growing children with equally huge appetites… yikes!)
Have a fabulous and relaxing weekend all of you lovelies! 🙂 

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!