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US Cooking Tour Stop 11: Oregon

Any town, city or state up in the Pacific Northwest has my heart. I absolutely love the area and was super excited to "land" on Oregon to see what kinds of goodies they would contribute to the challenge. Imagine my surprise when I was flooded with messages saying, "I'm from Oregon and I have no idea what to suggest." And "I don't think we have a state food." 

Say what? I quickly dove into my research and came up with the same problem. There were plenty of "must eats" in various restaurants across the state, but nothing traditional to the area that people make at home. So I had to put my thinking cap on and get to work.

Tillamook Cheese (aka the best cheese) comes from Oregon, so I had a stroke of genius to set out to make the best mac and cheese around with all Tillamook cheese. I also decided I am dubbing Tillamook Mac and Cheese the official food of Oregon, since they can't come up with one for themselves. You're welcome, Oregon.

You guys, I have to say, this is the best macaroni and cheese ever. It was seriously incredible. I made it as a side dish to meatloaf, but I ended up just eating a big ole bowl (or two) of it instead. It is certainly good enough to be a meal in and of itself.

Tillamook Macaroni and Cheese

2 lbs Tillamook cheddar cheese
6 Tbsp flour
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 C butter, divided
5 C milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 C panko


Heat oven to 400° F.

Cook pasta 1 minute shy of al dente according to package, drain and set aside.

Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add flour to melted butter and stir until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in milk a little at a time.

Stir in all but 1 ½ cups of the cheese (reserve that for the topping). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder to the sauce, stir until combined, the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened. 

Stir together the cooked macaroni noodles and the sauce and transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish, that has been prepped with cooking spray.

Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter and toss with the panko. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and panko on top of the noodles. Bake in the oven until golden and bubbling, 20-25 minutes. 

*Pour in a 12 inch cast iron skillet to make it a one pot dish.*

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Dessert was tricky, too, since we don't have marionberries available in Oklahoma. I ended up finding a recipe for Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies and the recipe hails from Oregon. Friends, these cookies were absolutely delicious in every way and the chocolate lover in you will have you craving them a couple times a month, guaranteed. 


Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies



1/2 cup butter, softened3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup dried cherries

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate and cherries. 
  • Drop by spoon fulls on to baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.

I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.

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