Crockpot Mac and Cheese: The Perfect Thanksgiving Side

If your kitchen is anything like mine on Thanksgiving you literally don’t have an extra burner or an inch of oven space to spare.  chzThat is why this crockpot macaroni and cheese recipe is ideal, easy, and delicious.  The best part is you only need 4 ingredients to make some of the most delicious and creamy mac and cheese your family has ever had!

All You Need:

* 4 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)

* 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese

* 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz) cubed

* 4 cups of milk

*salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours stirring occasionally.

**You can add another 1-2 cups of shredded cheese for a creamier mac!


Fun, Fourth, Festive, Foods: Perfect for Your Cookout

Now is the time to start prepping for your Fourth of July cookout.  And whether you are hosting it or attending one it is always fun to wow your felldeviled eggs with borderow attendees with a festive take on a delicious dish.  Here are a few ideas that will be sure to make you the hit of the cookout.

* Red, White and Blue Deviled Eggs:  If you are anything like me, deviled eggs are one of the best parts of a cookout/pitch-in dinner.  You can turn these food favorites into a red, white, and blue piece of art with simple food coloring.  Hard boil, peel, and halve your eggs like usual but before adding the filling drop the egg whites into red or blue food coloring while leaving some white as well and then set out to dry.  Fill eggs as usual and then display in the pattern of a flag.  The final result is patriotic and delicious!

* Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad: This salad is as simple as it is delicious.  With the added feta crumbles this salad has a lot of depth and a bevvy of different flavors.  This is sure to be a favorite even when it is not the Fourth of July! (If you don’t want to mix together as a salad you can also display in the pattern of a fruit flag with borderflag as shown in the picture)

water with border  * Red, White and Blue Water:  Yep, you heard that correctly, your water can even sport the colors of America this year.  This works best if you have a large, see-through water pitcher.  Simply freeze blueberries and place them in the bottom of the pitcher, add a generous helping of ice next and fill 3/4 of the way with water.  Add fresh strawberries to the top and voila, a refreshing burst of patriotism and a delicious hint of flavor to your water.

*  Red, White and Blue Rice Krispie Treats: You can’t forget to bring dessert to a cookout and anyone who has ever made rice krispie treats can attest that there is not much easier than making rice krispie treats.  All you need is 6 cups of rice krispie cereal, 1 package of marshmallows, 3 TBS of butter, and red and blue food coloring.  Follow these simple instructions to get a layered patriotic dessert that will be a hit with the adults as well as the kids.

* Red, White and Blue Martini: You will surely make plenty of friends with this fun and festive red, white and blue cocktail! Plus the ingredients won’t cost you an arm and a leg.  All you need is 2 oz hypnotiq, 1 oz citrus vodka, lemon lime soda, and grenadine.  Combine the first two ingredients and a splash of soda. Shake with ice and strain into your martini glass. Carefully pour in a small amount of grenadine. This should fall to the bottom of the glass, creating a nice layered effect. Add a white garnish like shaved coconut or white chocolate. Enjoy!

Using Your Cookout Leftovers~Eliminating Food Waste

This weekend was perfect for a cookout and if you are anything like me you tend to over-buy and over-prepare food to feed your hungry guests.  This year instead of wasting that burger patty, tossing the extra buns, or letting those chicken wings go stale in your fridchili with borderge why not use the leftover ingredients for an entirely new meal!  Also remember that your freezer is your friend.  If you think you may be having another cookout go ahead and freeze the uncooked meats and even the buns for next time.  Here are a few ways to get a second life out of your leftovers.


*Already cooked hamburgers, baked beans, and corn on the cob are all traditional cookout food fare.  Instead of just throwing out the extras you have the makings for a delicious pot of chili.  Simply crumble up the beef and cut the corn off of the cob.  Add the beef, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, a packet of chili seasoning, a diced onion, the corn, and the leftover baked beans to a large pot or dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and let simmer!

*Leftover hamburger and hotdog buns: If you are already making the chili these would be perfect to use to make peanut butter sandwiches to go along with the chili.  Another great way that I’ve found to use any leftover bread product is by making homemade croutons for salads or soups.  Simply cube up the leftover bread.  In a separate bowl mix together melted butter, oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.  Quickly toss in the bread cubes as to not completely soak them.  Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake until crispy.cookies in grinder

* Chicken wings: Since chicken is such a widely used ingredient the list of dishes that you can come up with using leftover chicken is limitless but I thought I would share one of my favorite ways to use the leftover chicken with minimal effort.  Before I even store the chicken in my refrigerator I pull all of the chicken off the bone and shred it.  For dinner the next night I simply put them in a tortilla with cheese and peppers then microwave them for a quick chicken fajita.  Top with any leftover lettuce or tomatoes that you had from the night before!

* Leftover cookies: While it certainly takes a lot of self restraint to not just finish off the remaining cookies there is an alternative.  Use a clean pepper grinder and place any crispy cookies broken up into pieces inside.  This makes for the perfect ice cream topping for the kids!


A Dinner Recipe Idea to Get Out of That Cooking Rut

If you are anything like me you may find yourself buying the same things at the grocery store to come home and make the same spinachlasagnapmdinners only to do it all again the next week.  Why not spice up your evenings and your dinners by trying this new take on lasagna? These spinach lasagna roll ups have been a big hit in my house and have added at least one new dinner to my normal dinner rotations.  Your grocery list will consist of:

Ingredients for Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

8 lasagna noodles
2 cups finely chopped baby spinach, from about 3 ounces
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded cheese, such as mozzarella, Romano, or a blend, divided
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup spaghetti sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking dish.

Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of salted boiling water according to package directions. Remove when they are al dente and lay out on a clean towel to dry and cool.

Mix the spinach, cottage cheese, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and a generous quantity of black pepper.

Divide the spinach and cheese mixture evenly between the noodles, spreading the mixture over the entire length of each noodle. Roll up the noodles from bottom to top, and place in pan, side by side, touching. Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheese over top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and the sauce is bubbling.