Easy Recipes: Crockpot Mac and Cheese

I’m a fan of Lisa’s Cheddar Spirals for my crockpot mac and cheese needs, but I admit that I’m curious enough about the Easy Recipes: Crockpot Mac and Cheese from Crystal & Co. that I may give it a try. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a Mac and Cheese recipe with eggs before. I’m guessing it makes a custard-like sauce. Will have to check it out.

Corn, Ham and Potato Scallop

This simple crockpot casserole from Betty Crocker recipe (original here) is a warm and cheesy treat. The Expert Tips with the recipe suggest that you can “Substitute cooked roast beef for the ham.”

Ingredients

  • 6 cups 1-inch cubes peeled baking potatoes
  • 1½ cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 can (15¼ oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons instant minced onion
  • 1can (10¾ oz) condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Mix potatoes, ham, corn, bell pepper and onion in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker.
  2. Mix soup, milk and flour in small bowl; beat with wire whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour soup mixture over potato mixture; stir gently to mix.
  4. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 7 to 9 hours.

Hamburger Hash

This Betty Crocker recipe (original here) is described as an “Easy hamburger dish that’s made in slow cooker—perfect for a dinner.” Certainly worth a try. The Expert Tip with the recipes says, “This recipe is a tried-and-true kid pleaser. Take it to Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts or school events, and there’s little chance you’ll have leftovers.”

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato puree
  • 1 can (10¾ oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10½ oz) condensed French onion soup with beef stock
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 bag (28 oz) frozen O’Brien potatoes with onions and peppers, thawed
  • 4 medium carrots, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Cook beef in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain.
  2. Mix tomato puree and mushroom soup in medium bowl.
  3. Stir in onion soup and water.
  4. Spray 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  5. Reserve 1 cup of the potatoes.
  6. Gently mix beef, remaining potatoes, carrots, salt and soup mixture in cooker.
  7. Sprinkle with reserved 1 cup potatoes.
  8. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  9. Hash will hold on low heat setting up to 2 hours.

Variations

  • NOTE: For tender potatoes, make sure to thaw them before adding to the slow cooker.

Senate Bean Soup

Don’t let this pork and bean soup recipe from Betty Crocker (original here) trick you. This isn’t pork and beans. This is the real thing—a warm soup made with great Northern beans and ham, thickened with mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried navy beans or Great Northern beans (1 lb), sorted and rinsed
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 ham bone, 2 lb ham shanks or 2 lb smoked pork hocks
  • 2½ cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 medium stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Directions

  1. In 4-quart Dutch oven, heat beans and water to boiling.
  2. Boil uncovered 2 minutes; remove from heat.
  3. Cover and let stand 1 hour.
  4. Add ham bone.
  5. Heat to boiling; reduce heat.
  6. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until beans are tender.
  7. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  8. Cover and simmer 1 hour.
  9. Remove ham bone; let stand until cool enough to handle.
  10. Remove ham from bone. Remove excess fat from ham; cut ham into 1/2-inch pieces.
  11. Stir ham into soup.

Variations

  • Add 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, 1 tablespoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin with remaining ingredients in step 7. Top soup with salsa if desired.

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans and Polish Sausage

Here’s a Betty Crocker recipe (original here) that is perfect for a chilly night, and since it’s a crockpot meal, you can serve it up as soon as you get home.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15.5 oz each) Green Giant® great northern beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) Progresso® black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ring (1 to 1¼ lb) fully cooked smoked Polish sausage

Directions

  1. Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Mix all ingredients except sausage in cooker.
  3. Place sausage ring on bean mixture.
  4. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 5 to 6 hours.

Variations

  • To simplify serving, remove the sausage ring and slice into chunks then return to the crockpot to keep warm.
  • Substitute your favorite sausage. We like kielbasa.
  • Chunks of bacon would also be a nice addition to the crockpot.

Dirty Rice

I’ve only ever made Dirty Rice from a mix, so this simple recipe from the June 2003 issue of Southern Living (original here) caught my attention. The mixes are pretty easy, but this looks easy enough that I will probably give it a try eventually.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

  1. Cook ground beef, garlic, celery, onion, parsley, and green pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink.
  2. Stir in salt, red and black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, mixing well.
  3. Add rice, broth, and 3/4 cup water, stirring well.
  4. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

Barbecued Frankfurters

Today is my sister Kerri’s birthday, so I’m sharing one of her favorite meals. The spiral macaroni in the meal came to be known in the family as “Kerri curls” because her hair fell in perfect little ringlets when she was young. They looked just like the macaroni, only a lovely strawberry blonde.

Mom found the recipe years and years ago on a box of Mueller’s pasta. She made it so often that she cut the recipe off one of the boxes and taped it up inside one of the kitchen cabinets so she didn’t have to find it in the recipe box.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1 lb. frankfurters, cut in 1" lengths
  • 8 oz. (3½ to 4 cups) Mueller’s twist macaroni (rotini)

Directions

  1. In saucepan, combine ketchup, water, onion, brown sugar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic. 
  2. Cover; simmer 10 minutes. 
  3. Add frankfurters; cover and simmer 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Meanwhile, cook macaroni as directed; drain. 
  5. Serve barbecued frankfurters over macaroni.

Variations

  • Mom usually doubles the sauce portion of the recipe to ensure everyone has as much as they want.

Time Required: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Slow-Cooker Enchilada Casserole

I’m always intrigued by the stacked tortilla recipes that I see, but I often wonder how difficult they are to serve. This recipe from the July 2011 issue of All You (original here) is different from others that I’ve seen because the tortillas are toasted before going in the crockpot. I can’t wait to give it a try.

Ingredients

  • 9 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 15-oz. can can or jar enchilada sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack about 5 inches from broiler and preheat broiler to high.
  2. Toast tortillas under broiler, turning once, until lightly spotted, 2 to 3 minutes total. Set aside.
  3. Reserve 2 Tbsp. enchilada sauce.
  4. Combine beans and remaining sauce in a bowl.
  5. Mist slow-cooker insert with cooking spray.
  6. Place 3 tortillas in bottom, breaking one into pieces if necessary to cover bottom.
  7. Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas.
  8. Sprinkle with 1 cup corn and 1/2 cup cheese.
  9. Repeat with 3 more tortillas, remaining bean mixture, remaining corn and 1 cup cheese.
  10. Top with 3 remaining tortillas, reserved sauce and remaining 1 cup cheese.
  11. Cover and cook on low until cheese has melted and is beginning to crisp on edges, 2 to 3 hours.

Variations

  • I’m not sure the vegetarian meal would pass the Board of Inquiry at this house, so I will probably add some canned chicken or browned ground beef with the beans and sauce mixture.
  • I suspect that a Mexican blend of cheese would be a nice substitute for the Cheddar.

Stir-Fry Your Way

So many of the stir fry recipes that I see tell you to use a bottle of “stir fry sauce.” Where’s the technique in that? So I was pleased when I found this recipe from the April 2011 issue of All You (original here), that includes a sauce you make yourself. The recipe was developed by dietician Heidi McIndoo.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 cups of your favorite vegetables (broccoli cut into bite-size pieces, shredded carrots, thinly sliced red bell peppers, chopped onion or thin green beans)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks, canned in juice, drained, optional
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp. cold water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or whole-grain noodles

Directions

  1. Preheat a wok or large skillet on low.
  2. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar.
  3. Turn heat up to high.
  4. Pour in 1 Tbsp. canola oil and, once hot, add half of chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove to a plate.
  6. Repeat with 1/2 Tbsp. oil and remaining chicken.
  7. Add vegetables and 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil to wok; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  9. Return chicken to wok; add pineapple, if desired.
  10. Pour in chicken broth mixture and stir well.
  11. Add cornstarch and stir until sauce thickens and becomes shiny.
  12. Serve over brown rice or whole-grain noodles. (Obviously white rice will also work.)

Ramen Beef Pie

I found this recipe in a Seattle newspaper article that was exploring recipes that used every college student’s favorite cheap food, ramen noodles. The article explains, “Now that work is over, you can finally go home and enjoy a nice, giant helping of ramen beef pie. It’s like Shepard’s Pie or Pâté Chinois, a dish they serve in Canada, only ramen style.” I’m not convinced it could ever beat a Shepard’s Pie, but I may try it out with a little variation. Some details were missing in the original, so I’ve made correction in my version below.

Ingredients

  • 2 pkg ramen noodles
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1/2 c onion, chopped
  • vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook the ramen noodles, according to the package directions.
  3. In a separate skillet, saute the onions with vegetable oil until golden brown.
  4. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it up and cooking until fully browned.
  5. Spray a casserole with nonstick spray.
  6. Layer the ground beef and onion in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  7. Spread sweet corn in a layer on top of ground beef mixture.
  8. Top with ramen noodles, spreading evenly to cover entire casserole.
  9. Bake in 350° oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through.

Variations

  • Instead of corn alone, add any vegetables you like. Precook before adding them in a layer. I would probably use mixed vegetables or at least corn, peas, and carrots. Even the picture on the Seattle news website looked like it included peas.
  • I might try mixing a can of Cream of Mushroom or Beefy Mushroom soup into the ramen before topping the casserole.