Cooking,  Local Products

ELC Day #3 Mac N’ Cheese

Today I locked my keys in my car.  Left them right on the driver’s seat in plain sight. Major blockhead move.  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.  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:  carbohydrates and cheese.

Make that mac’ and cheese for me please!   No doubt the blue box has been a comfort food for me ever since I could sing that 90’s commercial jingle we all know. (No coincidence that I do indeed crave it every time I have the blues!  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.  The recipe uses  Dakota Growers/Dreamfields macaroni, a company based in St. Louis Park, MN who offers dried pastas made from North Dakota wheat.  Not as local as homemade, but weeknight meals mean the occasional sacrifice.  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.  Don’t like veggies in your mac’ n cheese?  Leave ’em out and love all there is about this three cheese (and definitely not fat-free) piece of heaven.


Local Macaroni and Cheese 


For the Pasta
2 C. uncooked elbow macaroni Dakota Growers, North Dakota
2 C. fresh broccoli florets (optional, but tasty!) 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  Swiss Valley Cream Cheese, Launa, IA

1. Heat oven to 350°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.  At the same time, steam broccoli florets for 5-6 minutes.

3. While macaroni and broccoli are cooking, prepare cheese sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and combine, heating until flour turns slightly brown and bubbly.  Slowly add milk while stirring constantly with a wire whisk.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute or until sauce thickens.  Be sure to stir sauce continuously to avoid scorching. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheddar and swiss cheeses, stirring until melted.  Add in cream cheese chunks and stir until it is also melted.

4. Place macaroni in casserole dish and top with broccoli.  Pour cheese sauce over and gently fold in until noodles are evenly covered.  Then, you guessed it, top with more shredded cheddar!  Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.  Let rest 2-3 minutes before serving.


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