Archive for the 'slow cooker' Category

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

slow cooker mac cheese 1 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

We’re taking turns catching colds around here. As I write this I’m wrapped in a blanket with a stiff neck (my mom keeps telling me to wrap a wool sock around it, like my grandad did, and I just might) and a mug of warm lemonade (yes!), sneezing approximately every 3 minutes, my face fixed with that expression you get when you’re just about to sneeze. (This cold is such a cliché.) We’re anticipating a high of -19 tomorrow, not that we’ll likely leave the house anyway after getting up at 5 to watch the gold medal hockey game. My ambitious plan is to make doughnuts and bellinis – or perhaps fizzy wine smoothies – and plenty of coffee. But later in the day, when everyone is cold and sleepy and huddled on the couch to catch the last of the Olympics, a batch of mac & cheese will be in the slow cooker. Oh yes it will. I wish it was in there now.

Slow cooker mac collage 1 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

The first time I made this was back in late December, when some friends threw a house party and asked me to bring slow cooker mac & cheese. I have not had good experience with slow cooker mac & cheese in the past, and I debated cheating and making a regular batch of mac & cheese and bringing it in a slow cooker to keep warm. But I love the idea of a gooey, extra cheesy mac & cheese done in the slow cooker – it’s something that should work well, and there should be no need to have to precook the pasta – its starch should contribute to the thickening of the sauce and all that. It should work. And its success should not rely on a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup.

Also: I need crispy bits.

slow cooker mac collage 2 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

Mostly when I make mac & cheese I cook the noodles while simultaneously turning butter and flour into a paste to which I add milk and cook to thicken (or if you want to get fancy about it, make béchamel with a roux) and add big handfuls of grated old cheddar to melt. But this macaroni with lots of cheese went about things differently, amalgamating pasta, butter, milk and cheese into one delicious unit, rather than dousing cooked noodles with cheese sauce. A variation worked in the slow cooker – huzzah! I used up half a cheese ball from our Christmas party, which was really just grated cheese and cream cheese anyway, but if you don’t happen to have half a leftover cheese ball, cream cheese will work just fine. And there will be crispy bits aplenty.

slow cooker mac cheese 6 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

And while it was meant for the kids at the aforementioned party, the adults devoured it and asked for the recipe, and I’ve made it twice since. Soon to be three times.

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

1 lb (450 g) elbow macaroni, uncooked (41/2 cups)
1 – 1½ lb (454-750 g) old cheddar cheese, grated
one 8oz (250 g) pkg cream cheese, cut into chunks
4 cups (1 L) 2 % milk
salt and pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours, removing the lid to give it a stir about once an hour.

Serve warm. Serves 8-10.

button print gry20 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

February 22 2014 | one dish and pasta and slow cooker | 18 Comments »

Pulled Pork with Peaches & Peach Ketchup

Peach ketchup Collage Pulled Pork with Peaches & Peach Ketchup

Can we have peach week please? There’s still time.

Did something go awry with peach season, or does it always linger this late? Looking at the ginormous bins of peaches alongside tomatoes, peppers and zucchini feels like every year at Easter, when I wonder aloud to anyone who might know whether it’s the Friday or Monday that’s the holiday? And who gets it off again? And what day do you hunt for eggs and eat the ham? And why can’t I remember how it goes from year to year? Maybe I’m overthinking things, but it’s never a bad idea to stock up on peaches when they might be the last of the season.

Awake with insomnia, skimming food blogs I haven’t visited in awhile, pondering what to do with all those peaches (it’s what I do) I came across Delicious Days (hello, old friend!) at about midnight last night, and on it this tangy peach ketchup, which is really like a pureed chutney. Sweet, vinegary and mildly spiced, I was up before the sun making it (more of what I do), which is why I didn’t manage to document its creation – it came to be before there was enough light to get a good look.

I’m not one to jar my own peach halves in simple syrup, but I do love a good chutneyketchup. And a reason to buy more peaches. And a reason to make samosas. (For dipping in said ketchup, that is.)

Peach Ketchup

Adapted from Delicious Days.

canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp. curry powder or paste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup white balsamic or white wine vinegar
4 large-ish peaches, unpeeled
2-3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft; add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, curry powder and cinnamon and cook for another minute.

Add the vinegar and cook until it reduces by about half, then add the peaches, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until everything is very soft. Remove from heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot, or carefully transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Store in jars in the fridge or freezer.

Makes about 2 cups.

But wait! There’s more!

I made something else late at night in the dark, and because I have two recipes that make great use of peaches but only one photo per, I thought I’d live on the edge and offer up two at once! Does that confuse things? Ah well, my index is an unupdated mess anyway. (By the way, thanks to all of you who offered up advice for my site redesign – I’m not sure which is scarier, home renos or blog renos. But you have great ideas, and I’m happy to hear there isn’t a whole lot more broken than I’m already aware of!)

This is pulled pork with peaches. I did it in the slow cooker and sliced fresh peaches right in, so that they softened/melted/caramelized into the pork, adding sweetness (pork & peaches? sounds like a reality show couple) and tanginess and all that makes a peach a peach, sans fuzz. I’ll tell you there were more yummy noises than usual at CBC this morning, and someone in the control room said, mouth full, “Julie? MEGA success, this.” So here you go, in time for slow cooker season.

Pulled pork with peaches Pulled Pork with Peaches & Peach Ketchup

Pulled Pork with Peaches

olive or canola oil, for cooking
1 3-4 lb. pork shoulder
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 peaches, sliced or diced (don’t bother peeling them)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed

barbecue sauce, to taste
soft buns or biscuits

In a heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and brown the pork on all sides, turning it with tongs. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the onions to the pan, stirring them around to loosen any browned bits. Add them to the slow cooker along with the peaches, brown sugar, apple cider, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. (If you like, add a glug of barbecue sauce too.) Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Pull the pork apart with forks and leave the lid off for awhile to reduce the sauce a bit; add some barbecue sauce if you like as you pull the meat apart, otherwise serve it alongside for people to add their own. Serve piled on soft buns or biscuits. Serves 8-10.

pixel Pulled Pork with Peaches & Peach Ketchup
button print gry20 Pulled Pork with Peaches & Peach Ketchup

September 10 2013 | pork and slow cooker | 19 Comments »

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