Easy Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Mac n cheese in bowl with fork

 

It’s supposed to be spring here in Upstate NY- at least according to the calendar. Don’t get me wrong…I expect winter to be long and cold. It’s winter. But this year? It seems to have lasted FOR-EV-ER….leaving me to gaze out the window almost willing the warm weather to return.

On days where I haven’t had time to get a pot of soup or chili going, I pull this recipe out of the box. In three short hours we have a cozy meal ready to go. It’s creamy and fills the belly and soul with warm goodness, almost making me forget the cold, awful weather outside….almost.

 

Crockpot Mac N’ Cheese

1/2 Stick butter
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded (I use white cheddar)
1 Can Cheddar Cheese soup ( I use Campbell’s)
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. salt & pepper
1 Cup milk (I use skim)
1/2 Cup sour cream
3 eggs, beaten
2 Cups cooked elbow macaroni (measure out dry)

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Lessen cooking time by 1-2 minutes so pasta is not too soft. While pasta is cooking, prepare rest of recipe.
  2. In saucepan, melt butter then add shredded cheddar. Stir until melted together. Add to crockpot. Stir in soup. Add sour cream. Stir well. Add mustard, salt & pepper (I found 1/2 tsp. was a little much, so I just add a few shakes), milk and eggs. Mix well.
  3. Add drained, cooked macaroni and stir well.
  4. Cook on low 3 hours. Last 30 minutes of cook time, add a little (1/2 Cup) of shredded cheddar to top. DO NOT STIR. Cover and cook rest of time.

Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce for a little kick before digging in, a tossed green salad and you will be good to go!

This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen.

Homemade Everything Bagels

eatpicks homemade everything bagels

 



When it comes to food, I love just about everything and that is especially true when it comes to bagels! When walking into a bagel shop and the smell of fresh hot rounds of goodness greet you, there is nothing better. I tend to go between two flavors…sesame seed and the tried and true spice mix that includes kosher salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, granulated garlic and granulated onion.

Last week I had a crazy schedule which didn’t leave much time to stop and satisfy my craving for a hot bagel. Then I remembered a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Food Network’s Magazine, with Chopped host with the most Ted Allen’s homemade bagels. Perfect! His recipe looked easy, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Everything Bagel Spice Mix

First thing I wanted to change in the original recipe? Butter Glazed Onions as topping. Not that I am against this… but I had just eaten onion bisque soup from cooking class the night before and was not in the mood for onions…so instead, I made an everything spice mix. The other minor change was using a russet potato instead of Yukon gold.

The overall process was pretty simple- just make sure you have a good chunk of time set aside. Overall it takes about 2-3 hours to make a dozen, but the outcome is SO worth it!

Everything Bagels

 **Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, pg. 117

Homemade Everything Bagels

Ingredients

  • 1 medium russet potato (about 5 ounces), scrubbed clean.
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ -ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • Everything Spice Mix
  • 3 tsp. poppy seed
  • 4 tsp. sesame seed
  • 4 tsp. granulated garlic flakes
  • 4 tsp. granulated onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Mix all together.

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch Oven pot ( I used my Le Creuset 9qt round) bring 2 ½ quarts water to a boil and cook potato (with skin on) until tender, about 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Remove potato with slotted spoon, reserving all water. When potato is cool, remove skin and mash in a bowl until smooth adding a few drops of cooking water if you need to.
  3. Add honey and olive oil to the mashed potato and stir until creamy.
  4. Combine flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and with paddle attachment, mix on low. Add potato mixture to flour and 1 cup of reserved cooking water. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough becomes stiff, yet workable (not sticky).
  5. Turn dough ball out onto counter dusted with flour and knead by hand until smooth and bounces back to the touch- about 5 minutes.
  6. Drizzle a small bit of olive oil in large bowl. Add dough and turn over to make sure it is coated with oil. Cover bowl with a damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled- about 1-2 hours.
  7. Punch dough down in middle, then remove to the counter. Roll into log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place on tray lined with parchment paper. Cover again with damp towel and let rise 30 minutes.
  8. Make a hole in center of dough ball with your thumbs and gently work ring around, stretching center about 2 inches. Return to baking sheet and cover again with damp towel and let rest 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 450.
  10. Bring the cooking water you have set aside back up to a boil. Carefully drop bagels a few at a time into the water. Cook 30 seconds, flip and cook another 30 seconds.
  11. Remove with slotted spoon and place on wire rack to drain. Return bagels to parchment lined baking tray.
  12. Bake bagels for 10 minutes. Beat egg with 1 Tbsp. water; brush egg wash on top of bagels. Immediately sprinkle with everything spice mix. Return to oven and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until deep golden brown.
  13. Cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.
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