Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For as long as I can remember, macaroni and cheese has been one of my favorite foods. When I was younger, my Mom, sister and I would occasionally meet my Nanny at Piccadilly during her lunch break. I would always get the same thing, fried catfish, coleslaw, mac and cheese and my Nanny and I would split their chocolate pudding. 

Piccadilly had some of the best macaroni and cheese ever! For me the variable is the cheese sauce. It can't be too thin or runny. I like my cheese sauce thicker. It should stick to the noodles, in my opinion. At my bridal shower, I received a Crockpot and I've been searching for a Crockpot Mac and Cheese recipe on Pinterest. I finally found one that sounded promising so J and I tried it out. 

Let me just get this out of the way: IT IS AMAZING!!! 

Just look at the creaminess and the cheesiness! The cheese sauce is thick and it holds onto the noodles. It is a very simple recipe that practically cooks itself.  

Here is the recipe that inspired this dish. I used the same ingredients, but I switched up the directions a little to make preparation a bit easier. 

2 cups of uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tbsp of butter
2 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 (10.75 oz) can of condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp of dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper*

* J and I used fresh cracked pepper and we used a bit more than 1/2 a tsp because we're pepper feinds. Use as much, or as little, as you like. 

1. Cook the macaroni according the instructions on the package. 
2. (Here is where J and I altered the recipe.) The original recipe says to heat the butter and cheese over medium high heat until it is all melted. Then to pour it into the crockpot along with the noodles and add the remaining ingredients. Instead, we mixed all of the ingredients into the sauté pan (except for the cooked noodles), after the cheese had melted. 
3. Once all of the ingredients are combined in the pan, put the noodles in the crockpot and then stir in the sauce. Make sure it is well combined. 
4. Cook on low for 1.5 hrs and stir occasionally. (Original recipe called for 2-2.5 hrs on low, but we felt it was ready after 1.5 hrs. Plus, it was torture to smell and see it for so long and to not be able to dig in.)
5. Scoop a dollop onto your plate to accompany your main dish. Or, if you are anything like me, scoop a couple of dollops onto your plate because this is the main dish! J and I used it as a (generously portioned) side for 2 or 3 meals, so it makes approximately 5-7 servings. 

I'll leave you with a little extra inspiration just in case you were still undecided as to whether or not you should make this easy, peasy, cheesy side dish. Enjoy!

The Breakers

Sunday, August 10, 2014

J lived in Michigan for about 2 years before we got married and I joined him. Because of that, he has these little knowledge nuggets of fun activities to do piled away. Every so often when I get stir crazy, or the weather is really nice, he'll clue me in on something that only the locals know about. Some little adventure that we can go on to spice up our daily routine and get out of our rut. Last Tuesday, he   told me about "The Breakers". It's the point at which the portage we live by meets Lake Superior. It's called the breakers because there are a pair of rock walls that jut out into Lake Superior, to stop the lake from eroding the coastline, and the water "breaks" or crashes against the rocks. Here are some pictures from our time there. 

A view of the coast from the left and the right. The area toward the left, with all the vegetation, was a protected area for the wildlife. On the right you can see a lighthouse. Unfortunately that was on the second breaker and we were on the first so we didn't have access to it. Perhaps we'll have to visit again on the other side so I can get some better shots of the lighthouse. 

My handsome husband with his feet in the portage. Later he decided to go for a dip and man was it cold. We looked up the water temperature and it was a toasty 52 degrees! Needless to say, he took a quick dip. 

 A view of Lake Superior from between two boulders. 

An up close look of the "sand" on the beach and the end of a piece of driftwood. The sand, stamp sand, is actually ground up rocks and other minerals, one of them being copper, that is a waste product from the mining days of the town we live in. It is being reused as sand for the breaker beaches. The copper in the sand helps reduce algae. 

Below is a picture of the stamp sand, some driftwood and larger rocks and a picture of the algae growing on one of the semi submerged boulders. 

Some stamp sand photos.

And, because we're newlyweds and there was a large amount of driftwood, I spelled out our initials.

I like the contrast of my shoes against the dark sand. Don't worry, I took my shoes and socks off and walked barefoot through the sand. It feels pretty neat at first because it is so different than the sand I'm used to, but after a while it made our feet sore. 

Also because we're newlyweds and I'm mildly obsessed with my rings and taking ring pictures, here are a few of those. Get used to it. 

J walking away, my feet in the freezing Lake Superior and a better photo of the protected land. 

500 Feet Away

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday I was itching to get out of our apartment and it had been a while since I picked up my camera. I took a class in the spring from Ashley at Under the Sycamore. It was a great class and I decided I should finally put some of those newly learned skills to use. Our apartment is right by a portage so I figured I could get a few nice and interesting pictures.
^^^ Just incase you should get any funny ideas. 
Some of the rocks, pebbles and plant life. 

I'm not sure what kind of flowers these are but I thought I'd snap a few photos. Most of them were pretty pathetic looking, but I did manage to find one that was in decent shape. 

This was the first time that I'd seen the flowers above. I have no clue what they are, but don't they have an air of exoticism to them?

One of the big reasons J and I chose our apartment is because of the Portage view and because the local public library is almost literally our next door neighbor and I.LOVE.TO.READ! I have absolutely loved being able to walk 100 feet to pick out a new novel. It's also great for the poor newlywed budget. 

I'm not sure why, but one day I opened our window and saw the drop boxes decorated with all this crocheted yarn. It was unique and something I'd like to remember so I snapped a few photos. 

The colors are wonderfully vibrant and I especially love the ruffle fringe hanging on the bottom.