For those of you who know me well, you know my ultimate comfort food is mac and cheese… OF ANY KIND! Honestly, if there is Mac and Cheese on any menu in any fancy form, you know WHO is ordering it! I decided to try this whole idea of putting sweet corn into your mac and cheese, but upping the game with jalapenos… And in true dairy feature form, I used PLENTY of dairy in this recipe! Don’t eat this dish when you want to count calories…. You may know Ashley from her blog Messy Kennedy! She is an amazing advocate for the dairy industry as well as agriculture as a whole. But she also has a love for all things fashion, makeup, and lipstick. I love Ashley’s willingness to be honest and share all parts of life, the good and the messy!
DAIRY: ASHLEY KENNEDY, MESSY KENNEDY
Bad Axe, Michigan
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
I am the third generation on my family’s farm and my husband and I are raising the 4th generation, our daughter Calli.
What chores did you have growing up?
I always helped my mom feed calves, then as I got older I started doing things like getting the parlor ready for milking, milking and helping with newly calved cows.
Are there any differences between your farm now and when you were a kid?
Lots! When I was a kid we milked in a parlor, meaning the cows come and get milked at scheduled times of th day. Now, we robotic millers that allow the cows to get milked when they choose.
Who farms with you and what are their roles?
Right now my parents, Greg and Shelly still help me manage the farm. My husband also helps when he gets home from his day job of working on another dairy farm.
What has been the most satisfying part of farming for you?
Seeing my daughters love of the animals and tractors.
What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
Wheat, corn, hay, and beans, either soys or blacks depending on the year. We also have our dairy farm where we raise all of our young, growing animals too. We also have a dairy beef farm.
What do you think was the most useful advance in farming such as machinery, genetics, chemicals, etc.?
Figuring out how to use technology to help us do our jobs better, faster and more efficient.
What is one thing you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
We really do care. We genuinely care about our animals, land, environment and communities.
What advice would you give to anyone interested into getting into your field?
Come with a lot of gusto. It’s rewarding but hard. Farming is a labor of love.
What is your favorite thing to do with the food crop you grow?
I’ll start with dairy but can change it. Anything I can. I think almost any meal can be made better with milk, cheese or yogurt!
This recipe utilizes some heat, so feel free to scale it back a little if heat isn’t your thing! This made more than enough for the hubs and I to eat as a side with some steak so I stuck some of it unbaked right into the freezer in a foil tin! Perfect weeknight meal, just pop in the oven and bake!
- 3/4 pound pasta of your choice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (deseeded if you'd like)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sweet corn
- salt and pepper to taste
- (optional 1 tablespoon Frank's hot sauce)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or crushed crackers
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add in about half of the jalapeno slices and cook 1-2 minutes or until softened.
- Add the flour to the skillet, whisk to form a roux. Cook for another minute to let flour brown.
- Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Add cream cheese and whisk until cream cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add cheddar cheese and whisk until cheese is fully melted. Add the sweet corn, stir to combine.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine. Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish, individual or one large casserole dish.
- Top with topping and bake 20-25 minutes or until bread crumbs have browned and cheese sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and enjoy!