All You Need Is Love (and Macaroni and Cheese!)
If you took a survey about comfort foods, you would soon realize that an overwhelming number of folks place macaroni and cheese at the top of their list. There’s just something about the warm creaminess of the cheese, enveloping the adorable little elbows, that fills your tummy and your heart and makes everything feel just right.
A comfort food will do just that---comfort. In times of sadness or stress or simple ennui, we instinctively turn to things that we find soothing. It might be a worn but much-loved robe to wrap up in or a marathon of old sitcoms that brings you back to childhood. A decadent indulgence---good chocolate comes to mind---that makes you feel just a little more special, like it’s your birthday. A piping hot bowl of creamy mac and cheese, eaten with a big spoon, while you watch old sitcoms wrapped up in your favorite robe………….don’t forget the chocolate!
It’s okay to take comfort. In fact, it is healthy. It’s an important element of good self-care. So relax. Take some nice deep breaths. Indulge yourself and find comfort. If the idea of pulling out pots and pans and graters and whisks stresses you out, forget about it! Go for the blue box. Mac and cheese comes in many different ways. Find the way that makes you smile when you think about it. Don’t worry. Be happy. Take comfort.
EASY MACARONI AND CHEESE
Serves 6 (or 1 if needed)
2 cups milk, warmed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 block (10 ounces) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or a mixture of your favorite melting cheeses)
½ of a 16 ounce package of elbow macaroni, cooked (may substitute other pasta shapes)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. Reserve.
For the cheese sauce: Make a roux. Over medium low heat, melt the butter in a 4-6 quart saucepan. Add the flour to the butter and, using a whisk, stir constantly until all the flour has been incorporated—about 1 minute. You want the roux to remain light in color (called a blonde roux), so keep the heat low and do not overcook. Gradually add the warmed milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Cook, still whisking, until mixture thickens--about 5 minutes. Add half of the shredded cheese into the thickened sauce and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper.
Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and combine well. Pour the macaroni into an ovenproof casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 400° until golden and bubbly.