Today I locked my keys in my car. Â Left them right on the driver’s seat in plain sight. Major blockhead move. Â Even worse, I happened to be far from home and the kitchen partner, which meant I had my second tow truck experience in a month. Luckily, it only took a few minutes to fix and I was on my way. Â The wallet was a little lighter, but at least I learned my lesson.
By the time I got home I was craving what every American loves on after a rough day at the office: Â carbohydrates and cheese.
Make that mac’ and cheese for me please! Â No doubt the blue box has been a comfort food for me ever since I could sing that 90’s commercialÂ jingle we all know.Â (No coincidence that I do indeed crave it every time I have the blues! Â Darn food marketing…)
I am so grateful that every time I have the blues, Minnesota has enough ingredients available to make a creamy, cheesy homemade version that fits on my locavore menu and still tastes fantastic. Â The recipe usesÂ Â Dakota Growers/Dreamfields macaroni, a company based in St. Louis Park, MN who offers dried pastas made from North Dakota wheat. Â Not as local as homemade, but weeknight meals mean the occasional sacrifice. Â Tonight I topped it off with some of the last broccoli shoots from the garden–just so I can tell my mother I ate my vegetables. Â Don’t like veggies in your mac’ n cheese? Â Leave ’em out and love all there is about this three cheese (and definitely not fat-free) piece of heaven.
Local Macaroni and CheeseÂ
For the Pasta
2 C. uncooked elbow macaroni Dakota Growers, North Dakota
2 C. fresh broccoli florets (optional, but tasty!)Â Homegrown
For the Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter Hope Butter, Hope, MN
1/4 C. unbleached flour Whole Grain Milling, Welcome, MN
2 C. skim milk Cedar Summit Farm, New Prague, MN
1 C. mild cheddar cheese, shredded-plus more for toppingMullin’s Cheese, Mosinee, WI
1/4 C. baby swiss cheese, shredded Mullin’s Cheese, Mosinee, WI
1/4 C. softened cream cheese, cut into 1″ cubes Â Swiss Valley Cream Cheese, Launa, IA
1. Heat oven to 350Â°F. Prepare a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.
2. Cook macaroni in unsalted water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Â At the same time, steam broccoli florets for 5-6 minutes.
3. While macaroni and broccoli are cooking, prepare cheese sauce.Â Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Â Add flour and combine, heating until flour turns slightly brown and bubbly. Â Slowly add milk while stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Â Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute or until sauce thickens. Â Be sure to stir sauce continuously to avoid scorching. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheddar and swiss cheeses, stirring until melted. Â Add in cream cheese chunks and stir until it is also melted.
4. Place macaroni in casserole dish and top with broccoli. Â Pour cheese sauce over and gently fold in until noodles are evenly covered. Â Then, you guessed it, top with more shredded cheddar! Â Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes. Â Let rest 2-3 minutes before serving.