Recipe 16: Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Crockpot 365 is seriously one of my favorite cooking websites ever.  I found it a few years ago and I find myself returning to it quite frequently.  In a much saner challenge than I have given myself, in 2008 blogger Stephanie O’Dea challenged herself to use a slow cooker every day of 2008.  Not only did she succeed, but she got two books published of crockpot recipes and continues to update the site even though the challenge is over.  The site actually reminded me that I owned a crockpot, but also introduced me to much more interesting slow cooker recipes than I’d ever had hitherto.

My crockpot is in my top five favorite small kitchen appliances (I admit, I have a bit of a love affair with kitchen gadgets) – maybe even top three.  I love being able to just dump ingredients into the crock, crank up the heat, and find dinner waiting for me a few hours later.  It’s great for busy days and even better for those hot summer days.

Well, it certainly hasn’t been too hot around here lately – spring did decide to make a U-turn, having passed us over in March, and is now in full effect (and I was concerned about missing it?  Silly me).  But this week has been surprisingly busy.  Although I have had yet another job rejection, my continued unemployment has been beneficial for friends of mine: In December, one of these friends was informed that his entire department was going to be let go in March.  He thankfully found a new job fairly quickly (if only I was in the IT field!), but it has variable hours; this wouldn’t be so bad – but his and his fiance’s normal babysitter has been out of town and they needed childcare for their three-year old.  Enter “Aunt Lexi” to the rescue (“I’m sorry you’re out of work and I feel bad,” added the wee one’s mother, “but it kind of works out for us”).  Until the return of their normal babysitter, I have found my days full of My Little Ponies, rewarding “pee-pees and poopies on the potty,” and watching the same three Muppet movies I’ve been bringing over every single day – well, at least one a day while playing and/or eating lunch.  Loverman has been working as usual except for the past few days staying home sick – but he had agreed to take care of dinner this week since I wouldn’t be home till late since my little ward lives on the other side of town.

For today I gave him this recipe to make for dinner.  So technically this recipe was made by him and not me.  Hope you don’t mind the guest spot.

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese (from Crockpot 365)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni or hearty pasta (we used rice elbows – fun fact: Stephanie O’Dea has a child with celiac, so she labels her gluten-free recipes)
  • 4 cups of milk (we used skim)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups shredded cheese (we used mostly sharp white cheddar with a little colby jack; this is what we had at home)
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried mustard (edited 8/24: okay. I made a mistake and originally wrote a BIG T which is tablespoon. yet, some people made it with that much mustard and liked it. So use what you’d like. I’m so sorry!) – Loverman estimated he used 2 tsps.

Directions

Spray crock well with cooking spray (I highly recommend slow cooker liners, something my friends, my husband, and I myself refer to crudely as “crockpot condoms.”  They help so much in clean-up). In a mixing bowl, whip egg and milk together. Stir in spices.

Add cheese and noodles, and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the crockpot.

It will be very liquidy.

Cover and cook on low for 2-5 hours, or on high for 1-3. The cooking time will vary depending on what size crockpot you are using, and how quickly it heats and cooks. I was quite surprised at how quickly our pasta got fork-tender.

I didn't get a picture of the crockpot, but here is my bowl.

Verdict: 3.5/5

This is a solid recipe – even more so since you’re likely to have most, if not all of the ingredients at home already.  The texture was a little odd, slightly mealy, but that may have been an issue of execution.  Loverman and I both had two bowls – he had some chipotle hot sauce on both of his, and I did add some ketchup to my second bowl (don’t judge me) – and we have leftovers enough for at least two more bowls.  The taste wasn’t terribly complex admittedly, but it was fine for a simple, unpretentious recipe.  Definitely works for an easy weeknight meal.

EDIT: Loverman later told me that he doubled the recipe – so take that into mind when you read my above comments about how many servings we had.

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