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Noodles & Company Macaroni & Cheese (Copycat Recipe)

If you have ever been to Noodles & Company and had their Macaroni & Cheese, then you know that this stuff is like crack-cocaine for the mac & cheese lover! When you get this at Noodles & Co. it comes in a bowl that has the cheese sauce ladeled into the bottom, then they place the noodles on top and finally sprinkle some shredded cheese over everything. When you get it you immediately mix it up so that the shredded cheese can melt and bind it all together. Finally you dig in and get a big forkful of noodles, pull it up to your mouth and watch as the cheese just strings away from the dish. That first bite is like ooey gooey goodness as it all melts in your mouth!! I seriously think that sometimes I see rainbows when I'm eating this!! **salivating**

I have tried many many times to just replicate this dish without ever using a recipe and had failed every time. Yesterday Kurt was out of town and I had a serious craving for this mac & cheese. Finally I did what every good researcher does, I Googled this dish! Duh, this should have been something I did ages ago! I found the same copycat recipe on many websites so decided that it was probably good enough to try. I was pleasantly surprised when I made it, the cheese sauce was gooey and cheesy, the noodles cooked al-dente, and the cheese on top added a little extra flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing this up and watching it turn into the most yummy macaroni and cheese ever!! Oh, and did I mention that it is super easy to make?! This has now turned into my go-to recipe for macaroni & cheese.

I should note that the cheese sauce is really thick, a lot thicker than Noodles & Co.'s sauce. I cut this recipe in half when I made it (still plenty for 2 people) and I made a roux with only 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour and it was still really thick. Next time I might try just heating the half and half then adding the cheese.

Noodles & Company Macaroni & Cheese (Copycat)

1 lb. elbow noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups half & half
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
3 cups Monterey Jack or Colby Jack Cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, making a roux. Gradually whisk in half & half until thickened. Stir in salt (and pepper if you like).
3. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
4. Ladel cheese into bottom of bowl. Spoon noodles on top. Sprinkle with fancy shredded cheese (monterey jack or mild cheddar is best).