Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese, S’mores Dip, Pot Lucks, and Two Emergency Substitutions

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September is almost over, how did that happen?

I’m am trying so very hard to keep the pace of life chill this fall.  There has been a sermon series running all month which reminded me of things I already knew but called me out on complacency.  Slow down, be present where you are, and rest.  I’m guilty of being perpetually overcommitted, multitasking and living on my phone, and filling every square inch of my day with stuff.  Oh I know I’m not alone, we had a day at work last week where the general consensus that we all wanted to run away and work in a small town coffee shop, go home at night, and just be.  Who’s in?

Well weekends are my chance to reset and prep for the next wave and now that the weather is starting to cool, my apron strings are starting to pull me back into the kitchen, back to my all day slow cooker marathon where the freezer gets filled with lunches and dinners for enough meals that we can actually relax and enjoy being together.  This wasn’t quite one of these weekends, but I did a good bunch of cooking for a couple of potluck a we had scheduled.

The big win for the weekend was slow cooker Mac and Cheese that cooked up in about three hours, was dead easy, and everyone liked it.  You have to watch it after it hits two hours because it finishes quickly, but it was great as something to cook while I was in the house already.

The ingredients:

  • 900g bag of macaroni
  • 4 cans of evaporated milk
  • 6 cups of shredded cheese (I used mild but I bet old or another cheese would be good to try)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp of paprika

In a nutshell, spray your slow cooker with cooking spray, or grease it.  Throw everything in and stir.  Put the lid on and cook it on slow for two hours, checking every 30 minutes or so after that until you think it is done.  Sprinkle an additional bit of cheese on top for the last twenty minutes, I bet bread crumbs would be awesome too.

Mild, great for a crowd and you could probably dress it up with some veggies or something if you wanted to experiment.  It was a hit at dinner.  I used a large oval crockpot.

After I set that up another slow cooker with honey lentils to take to the next potluck. (Cook once, eat twice). I had everything into the pot and got to the honey part and for the life of me couldn’t find the bottle.  It wasn’t where it’s supposed to be, nor where it usually ends up.  It wasn’t in any cupboard nor was the empty bottle in the recycling can, nor did anyone tell me we were out of honey.  Off to Siri for substitution suggestions and I came up with maple syrup as a straight substitute.  Off I go to get the bottle and that’s when I learned something new.  We had a very large bottle in the basement that we’ve been filling the smaller bottle from all year.  It’s pretty stable stuff, my parents used to make it when I was growing up and it just sat in the pantry.  Well yesterday I learned that maple syrup can grow mold, and disappointly we lost a good litre of the beautiful amber liquid after that disappointing discovery.

Emergency substitution #2, 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar plus 1/4 cup water equals 1 cup of honey.  I adjusted the ratios accordingly to my recipe and my honey lentils that were to be maple lentils actually become brown sugar.  Guess what? I liked them better than the original recipe.  Go figure.

My potluck offerings rounded out with a batch of sweet tea (the potluck was themed Southern BBQ), and for dessert I made a smore’s dip using the smore’s ingredients I’d been saving for a campfire all summer that never happened.  Easy and a winner with the kids.

S’mores dip

  • 1/2 bag of marshmallows
  • 1 cup plus a smudge of chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup of whipping cream, but I only had coffee cream but whatever, it worked
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

I added the chocolate and marshmallows, then combined the cream and vanilla and poured them on top.  Quick stir and put it on low.

After an hour I gave it a stir, after a second hour I stirred again until it all mixed together and served it with graham crackers for dipping.  Would have been great with banana pieces or strawberries too.

Sorry, no pics today.  I forgot to take them when the food was ready.

Have a great week, be kind to yourself and the people around you.

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