My reasons for wanting to invite friends over for dinner were several: 1) I needed to start emptying my refrigerator in preparation for going home to NYC for a month; 2) It was about time I started having people over at my apartment; 3) I wanted an excuse to make a huge pan of mac 'n' cheese.
So dinner, with mac 'n' cheese, it was.
I knew the main course was going to be heavy, so I just came up with a few simple sides to go with it: green salad with tomatoes, olive bread, and slices of roasted kabocha squash. I roasted the seeds from inside the squash too, for snacking.
I'd made this particular recipe for mac 'n' cheese once before, for a friend's Thanksgiving potluck, and had been wanting a reason to make it again ever since. The nice thing about this recipe is that it doesn't require the pasta to be boiled first; you simply stir the uncooked elbows into a slurry of milk, cottage cheese, and grated sharp cheddar and then throw the whole thing into the oven, covered with tin foil, for half an hour. After that, you uncover the pan, sprinkle on more cheese, and bake until the top gets crusty and browned.
The mac 'n' cheese was a hit the first time I made it, and this time was no different; four of us went through nearly three quarters of the pan that night. (I had increased the original recipe by half, too!) After finishing up the meal with slices of key lime pie, I sent everyone home with blackberry muffins and leftover mac 'n' cheese: had all that food been left with me, I probably would have exploded trying to finish it all.