MI Coop Kitchen

Southwest Mac N Cheese

Recipe by
Midwest Energy Cooperative  
30-50 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 20-40 minutes (depending on whether you bake or serve from stove top) | Servings: For side dish 1/2 cup. 2 cups as entree


  • 1 pound uncooked macaroni or shell pasta
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 15 ounce can packed pumpkin (not pie filling!)
  • 1 16 ounce package shredded Mexican-style four cheese blend
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (half of the small Philadelphia package), cut in small pieces (For a lighter option, use 4 ounces Neufchatel cheese instead)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, almond milk, evaporated (NOT condensed!) milk or heavy cream
  • 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder to taste
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, drain, and return to the pot. Cover.
  2. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter and saute the diced onion until translucent but not browned.
  3. Add the pumpkin to the skillet with the onions and stir over medium heat until warmed through.
  4. Mix in the shredded cheese and cream cheese into the pumpkin mixture and stir until melted and smooth.
  5. Use milk product to thin as-needed until the consistency is smooth but not runny. Do not boil.
  6. Open and drain can of tomatoes and chilies. Stir into the cheese sauce.
  7. Season with the chipotle powder and salt to taste.
  8. Add the warm sauce to the reserved pasta and stir until well combined. Serve immediately, or transfer to Crock-Pot set on “warm.” This makes a great pot-luck dish.
  9. If you prefer a baked mac n cheese: transfer pasta to a greased 3 quart casserole dish.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F or until top browns.
  10. Experiment with spices! For a brighter gold color and more ‘bite’, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon mustard powder. If you like a traditional chili con carne flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin.  You can also vary the heat by using different strength tomatoes and chilies, or you can use 1 oz jar of salsa instead at your desired heat level.

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