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Mac & Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Let’s here it for Mac & Cheese Slow Cooker Chili!

<<crowd roars>>

It’s Superbowl time!

<<crickets>>

OK, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a big football fan. I never really watched football until I met my current boyfriend and I still don’t follow the sport. But I do like to put on my cute Argos hat and go to a live game once and awhile. Live sporting events are always fun, and I even won a years worth of pizza once!

But I digress.

Every year I help my boyfriend throw a Superbowl party, and in return, he helps me with my annual Oscar Party (with minimal complaints). Personally, I love any excuse for a thematic party!

Cantaloupe helmets anyone?

We’ve done the epic dip stadium, pretzel bits, wings, thematic shooters and of course, the classic chili. But I had yet to attempt a mac and cheese chili. I had read about merging these two awesome dishes together in my Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook so I decided to use my go-to chili recipe and slow cook it, mac and cheese-style!

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

One tip I picked up from America’s Test Kitchen is to mix the raw meat with a panade, a mixture of bread and milk often used in meatballs. This way you can still brown the meat ahead of time to develop the flavour, but prevents it from overcooking in the slow cooker. Also, it helps to make an aluminum foil collar or sling for thick dishes such as this, to prevent burning.

My favourite chili recipe has evolved over the years, and uses the winning combination of beef and pork. Red, green and jalapeño peppers join forces to add a light, sweet crunch. There is a good dose of heat from the chilis as well as hints of cocoa and a splash of beer to give the tomato sauce some added richness. I used Daiya cheddar cheese because my poor boyfriend is lactose intolerant. I find this brand really holds up nicely when melted, and there is no shortage of oozing cheese, as you can see from the photo below.

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Let’s dive in shall we?

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Mac And Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Oh YES! This Mac and Cheese Slow Cooker Chili is a tower of epic cheesy proportions. One spoon cannot even handle all the mac and cheese chili action that is happening. Packed full of juicy meat and macaroni, swimming in rich tomato sauce and spice, this is a meal fit for a king, or a group of hungry football fans. The best part is that it only takes two hours in the slow cooker!  This crazy delicious marriage of our two favourite comfort foods is super filling, and the leftovers are perfect to freeze for a later date.

 

Mac and Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Mac and Cheese Slow Cooker Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 slice of sandwich bread, ripped into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 pound medium ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions minced
  • 1 red pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 green pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ of a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup strong, dark beer
  • 2 cups shredded Daiya cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Line slow cooker with 6 aluminum foil sheets and coat with vegetable spray, this will prevent the mac and cheese from burning.
  2. Make a panade by mashing the bread and almond milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork. Using your hands, mix in the beef and pork, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon.
  3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, japaleno, garlic, chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes. Soften until lightly browned approx. 8-10 min.
  4. Stir in the beef and pork mixture, breaking up any large piece with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes, honey and cocoa powder. Stir frequently scraping up any brown bits, and simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in macaroni, broth, beer, 1 cup cheese and transfer to prepared slow cooker. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, Cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 2 hours on high.
  6. Gently stir pasta, adding some hot water if the chili seems too thick. Season with salt and pepper and serve with some hot sauce on the side.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2017/02/06/mac-cheese-slow-cooker-chili/

Our Super Bowl party was really fun, I even tied for second place for the prop bet and I had no idea what I was doing! We also made Brunswick stew in honour of Atlanta and some skillet corn bread for New England. I also found this recipe for football deviled eggs courtesy of My Mommy Style. So cute!

Football Deviled Eggs

Football Deviled Eggs

Also check out these awesome cupcakes that my friend made!

The highlight for me was Lady Gaga, I’ve always loved her and this performance was no exception. I feel as though she really took advantage of the platform and maximized the whole space from the skies, to the crowd to her big dance troop. I loved all the glitz and glam of her set. The power of her voice is amazing, especially with the physical intensity of the show. It’s funny and sad how everyone nowadays seems so shocked when an artist doesn’t lip sync.

I had decided to root for New England, so after the nail biting overtime I cheered in victory! A winning team with champion Super Bowl party food. My work here is done!

What did you make for your Super Bowl party?  Have you ever made a mac and cheese slow cooker chili?

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I think January is my least favourite month, it’s the only month with nothing fun to look forward to.  The high from the holiday season is over as we all get back into our daily grind.  The days are still short, with gloomy clouds and rare sunny days.  Over the years I’ve noticed a significant change in my mood in January, and I think I have mild seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression.  Heading south for a week of sun is the ultimate cure, but if that’s not possible, I retreat to my kitchen and cook up a storm.  One of my favourite comfort dishes to make is this Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping.

This twist on a traditional Shepherd’s pie is my go-to recipe for a cozy winter dinner party. Filled with delightfully rich, savory flavours that are guaranteed to impress.  This dish can be made a few days in advance, making a weeknight dinner a breeze! Adding Worcestershire sauce and gherkins to this pie was a tip that I picked up from Gordon Ramsay. I absolutely loved the addition of the Worchestershire sauce to the pie.  The sauce adds more depth to the flavour of the meat, a bit of a sweet fermented kick.  Using gherkins in the pie also really tickled my taste buds, their sweet crunchiness cutting through the fatty richness of the lamb.  Over the years this recipe has morphed into the ultimate Shepherd’s pie, and is packed full of some of my favourite ingredients.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I adore lamb, and am always looking for ways to use lamb instead of beef.  Besides being so tasty, lamb is also a great source of iron, zinc and B vitamins.  I also combined sweet potato with yellow potatoes for a healthier pie topping.  Sweet potato is an excellent source of Vitamin A, potassium and dietary fibers – something we all need after all that holiday eating!  I also made the pie topping with almond milk, as my boyfriend is lactose intolerant, but if you can find cashew milk that’s even better because it’s a bit creamier.   Finally, I added some liquid smoke to give an element of smokiness to the meat, but this is optional.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

My dad is of British descent and fully appreciates a hearty meat and potatoes meal.  He loved my take on Shepherd’s pie (but I guess your parents are supposed to say that, no matter what age!).  Also, I’m sure that I inherited my love of pickled foods from him.  The gherkins cut through the rich mince while the generous topping of potatoes is light, fluffy and slightly sweet.  This Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping is a spin on a classic British pub dish with some healthy substitutions.  If you’re feeling blue this January, call up some family or friends for an impromptu dinner party.  This hearty Shepherd’s pie is a wonderful way to warm up the soul on a cold January evening.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 6 large portions

Calories per serving: 387

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 900g lean ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 x large carrots, peeled finely diced
  • 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup red cooking wine
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 x sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6 x sweet gherkins, finely chopped + extra for serving
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • liquid smoke (optional)
  • For the potato topping
  • 2 x medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 x medium sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
  • 2 x large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 x sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes until a knife can easily pass through the potato. Drain well, and return potatoes to the hot pot over low heat to dry out briefly.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  3. Sauté lamb until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl lined with paper towel.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil as needed to the lamb fat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften and start to brown.
  5. Add the flour and tomato puree, stirring for another minute.
  6. Working quickly, add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bits. Simmer until reduced by half.
  7. Pour in the beef stock and bring back to a simmer.
  8. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of liquid smoke. Turn down the heat to low and loosely cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every once and awhile until the sauce has thickened.
  9. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350C.
  10. Bake sweet potatoes in the microwave on the potato setting until soft.
  11. Press yellow potatoes through a ricer and into a large bowl. Using oven mitts and a large spoon, remove sweet potatoes and their juices from their skins and add to the bowl.
  12. Mix in butter, almond milk and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  13. Add the chopped gherkins to the meat mixture and spoon into a 2.3L oven proof dish.
  14. Using a large spoon, top with sweet potato mixture by carefully spooning in large dollops over meat, slowly covering the entire surface. Sprinkle some paprika over top.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and the sauce begins to bubble around the sides.
  16. Serve with parsley and extra gherkins.

Notes

Can be made in 1-2 days in advance.

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2017/01/09/lamb-sweet-potato-shepherds-pie/

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Do you suffer from SAD?  What comfort food makes you happy?  I hope this recipe for Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping lifts your spirits this winter!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?