Showing posts with label mac and cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mac and cheese. Show all posts

Monday, January 25, 2016

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

When friends were visiting, I wanted to make dishes they would love but I didn't want to spend a lot of time cooking. I was thrilled when I spotted this slow cooker Mac and Cheese recipe from Trisha Yearwood. I admit I was a little disappointed that I had to cook the macaroni. After all, wouldn't it be fun to throw everything in the slow cooker and forget about it? Except for the macaroni, that's what you do with this recipe.

All the other ingredients are fairly standard, so I guess the evaporated milk is the secret ingredient that makes this work so well. Am I the only one who never thought to make Mac and Cheese with evaporated milk? I thought it might lack something in flavor, but that wasn't the case at all!

The only change I made was to butter the slow cooker instead of spraying it with cooking spray. Buttering worked fine. This would be a really great recipe for a beginner cook. You could print it on a recipe card and give it as a gift along with a slow cooker to a bride who doesn't cook yet. I bet it would be one of their favorite dishes.

It would be great for times when you need to bring a hot dish to a pot luck or to a scout meeting. Especially when you're having a busy day. It takes almost no time to assemble - then you can do something else and forget about it. Or maybe on a snow day when a filling and hot comforting dish would hit the spot. The flavor is perfect. It's creamy and satisfying, and it makes a lot. Everyone thought it was delicious. And I got to spend more time with my friends!

Trisha Yearwood's Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Cooking spray or butter
8 ounces cooked elbow macaroni
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk (or 2%)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
2 10-ounce bricks sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 cups)
dash of paprika

Cook the macaroni. Butter the slow cooker. Add the macaroni, evaporated milk, milk, butter, salt, pepper, eggs and all but 1/2 cup of the cheese. Mix. Add the 1/2 cup of cheese on the top, sprinkle with paprika and cook on low for three hours and fifteen minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

A few weeks ago, I had every intention of making a bacon, Gruyere, and onion quiche. I prepared as much as I could the night before and had everything ready to assemble in the morning. Which I did–omitting the Gruyere. I didn't even realize it until someone asked me what it was. Oy.

So every time I opened the refrigerator, two nice packages of Gruyere stared me in the face. What to do with them? If you're not familiar with Gruyere, it's a very mild cheese, probably best known for being used in fondue.

I considered several options and finally decided to make a Gruyere macaroni and cheese, with broccoli in it. I think it turned out well. Please do not imagine that this will taste like traditional cheddar-based mac and cheese. The cheese is much milder, but it's still very comforting. And truly, you can't taste the broccoli at all!

Gruyere and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
2 1/2 cups raw broccoli
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
a dash of nutmeg
1 large clove garlic
2 cups milk
8 ounces Gruyere
1/4 cup Panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the macaroni according to the package but add the broccoli to the water and cook it with the macaroni. Drain and set aside.

Shred the Gruyere or cut into small pieces and mince the garlic. Butter a 9x9-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium pot with a heavy bottom, whisk together the butter, flour, salt, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until it becomes fragrant and begins to turn golden. Add the milk and bring to boil. Pour the drained macaroni and broccoli into the milk mixture and mix well.

Pour into the baking pan. Mix the Panko with the Parmesan and sprinkle over the top. Bake about 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

Cook the broccoli with the macaroni.

Mix everything and pour into a baking dish.

Sprinkle top with Panko and Parmesan.

Look! Little bits of broccoli!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dru Ann’s Tuna Melt in a Bowl: a Cheesy, Creamy Tuna Mac Casserole via Cleo Coyle

All of us here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen were excited to learn that our friend, book reviewer and honorary Cozy Chick, Dru Ann Love was nominated for an Anthony Award this year for her blog.

If you have yet to discover Dru’s Book Musings, then you’re in for a treat. Dru not only shares book reviews and hosts giveaway, she challenges authors with a creative question: 

How would you describe "A Day in the Life" of your sleuth?
Our Clare Cosi in avatar form.
To read her Day in the Life
at Dru's blog, 
click here.
Marc and I took up the challenge a few months ago, putting our Coffeehouse Mystery sleuth, Clare Cosi, through her paces on Dru’s blog. And every one of our fellow Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen cooks have written Day in the Life features for Dru, as well! Just click here and use the search bar on the left column to look for your favorite author's Day in the Life.

With Dru's Anthony nomination still hot off the press, Marc and I thought it would be fun to give her a little foodie tribute so we decided to whip up one of her favorite recipes, one she shared as a guest here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. 

We have made Dru's version of this easy, cheesy pasta dish several times and (yes) LOVE it—which is quite appropriate since it came from a lady named Love!


~ Cleo

Dru Ann's Tuna Mac and Cheese Casserole

(or as we call it) "Tuna Melt in a Bowl"

To see Dru Ann Love’s original recipe post 
(with her step-by-step photos and commentary) , click here. 

Our version is practically identical. We made some very small changes in the recipe writing and some notes on the seasonings, that's it!

Serves 4


1/2 box of medium pasta shells (1 lb box)

3/4 of an (8 oz) block extra sharp cheddar cheese (or you can use the entire block if you want it extra-cheesy)

1 (5 oz) can solid white tuna in water

2 - 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellman’s is Dru's favorite, and ours, too.) 

1/2 teaspoon or so of seasonings (see the suggestions in the note below)

Directions: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Prepare the pasta as directed on the box, and be sure to make it al dente (do not overcook or the casserole will be mushy). While the pasta is cooking, drain the tuna well, place it in a large bowl, and flake it with a fork. Season it (see note below) and set aside. Slice the block of cheese into small cubes and set aside. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain well, and pour it into the bowl 
with the seasoned tuna. Add the cubed cheese and mayonnaise. Toss well, until all the pasta is coated. If needed, add more mayonnaise. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish (1-1/2 quarts in size) or a loaf pan (9x5-inches) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before digging in!

Seasonings note:

Dru Ann suggests Black & Red from spice merchant Penzeys. 
This is a great seasoning suggestion! If you don’t have this on hand, you can make your own by mixing freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of hot red cayenne. 

Our suggestion from Penzeys is Northwoods Fire. Again, if you don’t have this on hand, you can make it yourself with this mix of spices: coarse salt, paprika, ground chipotle pepper, black pepper, cayenne red pepper, thyme, rosemary and granulated garlic.

Visit Dru Ann's 

award-nominated blog here.

Like Dru on facebook

Follow Dru on Twitter.

And may you always...

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

* * * 


Have you Entered Our
May Giveaway?

3 Gifts Cards and a
Coffeehouse Grand Prize Pack
will be awarded to four winners
next Monday at Midnight.

Find out how to enter in 
our Spring Newsletter.

It was sent out this past weekend and
includes recipes, news, and video fun...

If you didn't receive it or would like to sign up,
simply click here and follow the instructions.

After you subscribe, an auto-reply will send
you a link to several past newsletters.

Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen!

~ Cleo

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dreaded Thanksgiving Hors d'oeuvre Dilemma

Thanksgiving dinner is undoubtedly the biggest meal I cook all year. It's not that we have so many people but everyone seems to have a special dish without which it's just not Thanksgiving. I must not be the only person who feels this way because I just heard about a woman who contacted all her guests in advance to be sure no one will be disappointed at Thanksgiving dinner.

Since there's so much food, I tend to be inclined to skip hors d'oeuvres. I mean, really folks, just sit down and eat! But every year, somebody comes in search of just a little nosh before we eat. Even if we're ten minutes from eating. Even if the turkey is already on the counter, beautifully done. I guess that makes me sound like a Thanksgiving Scrooge, which I'm not – really!

So it's always a dilemma. I don't want anything that will tie up the oven. I'll be busy making gravy and juggling all those other dishes, so I really don't want to have to make anything time-consuming. No one wants anything heavy. I know you're thinking so put out a cheese platter and be done with it.  Um, yes, that's what I usually do. A quick platter that everyone ignores!

This year, as I perused recipe ideas that ran from odd (balsamic drizzled radicchio) to weird (whipped ricotta with chilies and green olives) to too plain (popcorn), I stumbled across this brilliant idea in Food and Wine. Mini mac and cheese!

It does tie up the oven for 10 minutes, but I can live with that. Best of all, it can be made a day ahead, so when chaos reigns in the kitchen, all you have to do is pop them in the oven. Unless someone eats a lot more than one or two, they won't spoil their appetite for dinner, and there are very few people who won't eat mac and cheese.

The recipe from Food and Wine by Grace Parisi had a couple of great features. She used Parmesan to line mini-muffin tins, which adds a lovely little salty crunch to the sides. And she tossed in an egg yolk to keep everything together. Very clever.

Now, to be honest, I think you could make this with your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Just cut it in half and be sure to add an egg yolk. I used an extra sharp cheddar and cream cheese, just to give it that creamy texture I like so much. When it comes out of the oven, turn a deaf ear to pleas to eat it (they smell divine!) for five minutes. They have to cool a little bit to set, otherwise you'll have a big mess.

Three-Cheese Mini Macs
by Grace Parisi in Food & Wine
tweaked by moi
Makes 24+

1/2 pound elbow macaroni 
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing  
2 tablespoons plus two tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
3/4 cup milk 
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces soft cheese (brie or cream)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten  
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs

Use a 24 cupcake mini-cupcake pan or two 12 cupcake mini-cupcake pans

Cook the macaroni according to package and drain.

Preheat oven to 425. Brush each well of the pan with butter. Sprinkle the wells with a total of two tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Over the sink, turn the pan to distribute, much as you would to flour a cake pan.

Melt the butter in a pot and whisk in the flour. Cook about two minutes and whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook five minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg yolk and the paprika.

Fold in the macaroni. Use a measuring spoon to add a heaping tablespoon to each well. Mix the remaining two tablespoons of Parmesan with the Panko bread crumbs and sprinkle over each well.

*At this point you can can cover and refrigerate overnight.*

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Use a thin knife to loosen and remove.

Did you know that Daryl Wood Gerber, Lucy Burdette, Julie Hyzy and I are having a contest? You could win a fabulous basket from our favorite cookbook store, Salt & Pepper Books!

Click here to start!

And my dogs and cats are still looking for more dogs and kitties to join their MURDER, SHE BARKED street crew! Leave a comment here today to enter!

Riggins, the Bookends Literary Agency Mascot!

Sunny says it's not just for dogs.
Laura Baker Collins's Alona

JJ Murphy's Lemon & Dunkin

Happy Thanksgiving! May your blessings be many.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Five Cheese Mac & Cheese

One of my friends has been raving about macaroni and cheese that is served at a local watering hole in Raleigh, North Carolina. She goes there just for the macaroni and cheese. All I know about it is that it's made with four cheeses. She has asked for the recipe, but they're not sharing. So when she came to visit recently, I made five cheese macaroni and cheese.

I didn't get it quite right. Not surprising when one considers the vast numbers of cheese available. Each one brings it's own distinctive taste to mac and cheese. When she tasted mine, she shared that the one she likes so much has ham in it. Aha. That would change the flavor. But, she said, that wasn't what she likes so much. It's supposedly very creamy. She thought that might be from sour cream. However, she liked my creation and especially liked that it wasn't as rich. I did use a triple cream cheese for some added creaminess, and I think that worked very nicely. The shredded cheeses together totaled about 2 1/2 cups of cheese.

When I was shopping for the cheese, I couldn't find plain old elbow pasta in the store. All kinds of fancy pasta, but no elbows. I finally went with Ancient Harvest's quinoa and corn blend elbow pasta. It happens to be gluten free. My tasters absolutely could not tell that it wasn't regular pasta. And believe me, they are picky about such things!

Krista's Five Cheese Mac & Cheese

8 ounces elbow pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (nonfat is okay)

.30 pound triple cream cheese (like Prince la Fontaine)
3/4 cup Comte
3/4 cup medium cheddar
3/4 cup goat Gouda
1/4 cup Apple smoked cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Preheat oven to 350. Slice the triple cream cheese and shred the other cheeses.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the garlic. Cook briefly until fragrant. Stir in the flour and add the milk. Stirring constantly, cook until thick and bubbly. Reduce the heat and add all cheeses except Parmesan. Cook and stir until the cheeses have melted. Remove from heat and add cooked pasta.

Pour into a 1 1/2 or 2 quart casserole. Top with Panko bread crumbs, then top with Parmesan.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

Hey, y'all.  Remember how I said I would be posting better-for-you recipes for a while?

Well, the best laid plans ...

A few weeks ago (before the great diet challenge began), I made this great crock pot mac and cheese from my dear friend Bethany's recipe.  Wow.  It was really, really good.

While Bethany's version was relatively healthy (emphasis on the "relatively" - it's mac and cheese!), I decided I would try to slim down that recipe, by subbing pureed butternut squash for some of the dairy and cheese.  Another friend had once served mac and cheese with roasted butternut squash cubes in it, and it was awesome.  Using the squash as a substitute sounded like a great idea.  I found several recipes online, cobbled them together, and cooked.

Holy cow.  It was bad.  I mean mega-mega-bad.  So bad I ate about three bites and then dumped the rest of the pan.  Seriously ... that bad.

I was crushed (in part because it left me without a dinner plan at 8 o'clock in the evening).

But I learned something.  You can only cut so many corners.  Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet, eat the fatty cheese, and accept that it is good.

Thus, for your dining pleasure, I bring you Bethany's Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese*, in all it's dairy goodness.  Enjoy!

* Note that Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams has another Crock Pot Mac and Cheese recipe, posted in 2010.  This one's a little different.  Not necessarily better, just different.

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

10 oz. elbow macaroni or mini penne, cooked 5 minutes in boiling, salted water

1 1/2 c. milk (2% or more)
2 eggs
1 - 12 oz cans evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt

pinch black pepper
seasoning of choice
(I used 1 1/2 tsp. Penzey's Mural of Flavor, a salt-free general seasoning)

16 - 18 oz. shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar and mozzarella, but you can mix it up)
1/2 c. shredded parmesan

Whisk eggs and milk in a large measuring cup (or small bowl).  Add evaporated milk, melted butter, salt, pepper, and seasoning.  Whisk until combined.

Spray the inside of a crock pot with nonstick spray.  In slow-cooker, combine par-cooked macaroni with egg/milk mixture and shredded cheese (except for parmesan).  Sprinkle parmesan over top.  Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Before cooking - not terribly appetizing, right?

After cooking - delish!


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook. She also writes the Pet Boutique Mysteries under the name Annie Knox; you can follow Annie on Facebook, too!