Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of this surprisingly delicious dish. I have a good excuse, I promise: I fed my coworkers. My overworked, under-appreciated, exhausted coworkers. The enlisted corpsmen live in dorm style barracks and have little to no facilities to cook food on their own, so they are forced to choke down whatever the hospital's cafeteria has to offer (Hospital food = bad. Military chow hall food = bad. Combine those and that's what they eat daily) or take a taxi out into town since most don't have cars and pay a lot more money to eat local cuisines. I feel for them, I do. I remember missing certain foods when I was a freshman in college and having no money but being completely sick of the cafeteria food. The other option was the 7-11 style store, which sold frozen dinners and junk food, which also gets old extremely fast.

So, when I can, I bring home cooked food for them. It's always appreciated, and it's good practice in the exercise of making more food than what would feed myself and Travis. One time I made Texas style chili (before I started the blog, but don't fret, I'll make it again for y'all!) and I used almost 4 pounds of meat, and the ENTIRE crock pot was demolished within 15 minutes flat. I mean, they were scraping the bowl clean with cornbread and still trying to find more food. Granted, I was feeding 6 boys, so I definitely should have known better.

Evidently I still have a ways to go in my perfection of making the right amount of food.

Somewhere deep deep down I just have a feeling The Karma of Life is going to grant me with a pack of boys as my children. Not that this would be a bad thing at all- I just grew up with two sisters, so boys would be a complete shock to my clean, organized world.

Back to the macaroni. I was leery about cooking noodles in a crock pot, since they tend to stick then burn quickly when left unattended on the stove, but I caveated to the corpsmen that this would be an experiment, not that this bothered them in the least. It actually turned out very well, and all of us at work that night went back for seconds. Even our Japanese employee, Miyuki, who could only tolerate a bite or two of the chili because it was too spicy for her ate a full bowl.


So despite the not so pretty plastic bowl and a lonely iPhone picture, it was worth it. This dish is definitely something I will make again, and would work wonderfully for parties or potlucks. The only thing I did notice was even with lots of milk and velveeta, it does dry out quickly, so you either need to make it more liquidy than you think or leave it on the heat so the cheese doesn't become gummy.

I must also state for the record this is NOT Southern mac and cheese. There are no breadcrumbs, it's not baked, there is no crunchy/chewy crust. It's the type of macaroni that I love- creamy, gooey, and smooth. There is definitely a time and place for the baked bread crumb topped style, but for me, this ain't it.

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

adapted from several different recipes

1 tablespoon butter
1 pound dried short cut pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
2.5 cups low fat milk (fuller fat will curdle)
2 small cans evaporated milk
1/2 pound Velveeta, cut into cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (pepper jack might work well too)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon mustard or mustard powder, whichever ya got
1 teaspoon chili powder
heavy pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

options: chipotle chili powder for a smoky element, a few drops of hot sauce or red pepper flakes for some heat, chopped broccoli, ham or peas to add right at the end for some extra flavors.

Grease crock pot with the tablespoon butter, leave the leftovers in there- like we're really concerned with cholesterol with this meal anyway! Put all of the other ingredients (except any extra veggies) into the crock pot, stir together. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, until pasta is cooked through. At 1 hour, quickly stir once to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the pot. At 1.5 hours, try a piece of pasta- if it's cooked through, switch the crock pot to warm and add veggies of your choice if you like.

Serve it up nice and hot and chow down guiltlessly.

1 comment:

  1. This looks delicious. I know those corpsmen were so happy to gobble it up and it's so wonderful of you to cook for them!


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