Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playdate Mac and Cheese (In the slow cooker)

Summertime is fast approaching and we can’t wait!  As the girls and their friends spend the day swimming and playing, they work up quite the appetite!  I try to choose menu items that won’t take me away from lifeguard duty and overall backyard patrol!  That’s why this slow cooker mac and cheese is one of my favorite summertime lunch options!!

I love making baked mac and cheese!  If you were hoping to see a recipe for the baked variety you can find it here! The one I’m sharing today is a little different! I HATE to admit that although my kids will eat the baked version, they prefer the box!  Yup…Annies, Kraft, doesn’t matter what the brand is, they like it better!  Yuck!  I was THRILLED to finally find a recipe that is homemade but tastes like it’s from the box, only better!  Did I mention you can make it ahead in the slow cooker?  Perfect!  I call it playdate mac and cheese!  Enjoy!

Prep Ahead Plan:  This mac and cheese takes about 2 hours in the slow cooker.  I usually throw it in the slow cooker at around 10 in the morning so it’s ready for the hungry crowd at noon! 

Playdate Mac and Cheese (In the slow cooker)
Adapted from Paula Deen

Serves 4-6
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)*
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese**
1/2 cup sour cream (I use low fat)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* I use regular elbows not the casserole ones
**I noticed if you shred the cheddar yourself, the cheese melts creamier!

1.  Boil the elbow macaroni for 6 minutes and drain.
2.  Melt the butter and cheddar cheese in a saucepan.
3.  Combine macaroni, cheese and butter mixture and remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 2 -2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Beach Shrimp

Here is a perfect summer recipe from Southern Living!  It’s quick and easy to throw together and bakes up in no time.  I have served it both hot and cold and both were a hit!  Perfect for a picnic on the beach or an easy app at your backyard BBQ!  Welcome summer!  We’ve been waiting for you!!!

Prep Ahead Plan:  I have found the shrimp is more flavorful if you let it sit in the marinade for several hours in the fridge before baking!

Beach Shrimp

Recipe adapted from Southern Living

3 pounds unpeeled, large raw shrimp (I use the deveined, easy peel, large shrimp)
1 (16-oz.) bottle Italian dressing
freshly ground black pepper (as much or as little as you like-I use about one tablespoon)
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 lemons, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons of butter

1. Place first 4 ingredients in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, tossing to coat. Squeeze juice from lemons over shrimp mixture, and stir. Add lemon halves to pan. Sprinkle evenly with parsley and dot with butter.
2. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Serve right from the pan!