Easy Crockpot Homemade Mac & Cheese

Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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While I shop with the health of my family in mind, buying as many foods in a state as close to their natural state as possible, and making sure we all eat a balanced diet that fuels our bodies and encourages us to try new healthy foods. . . one of our favorite dishes is mac and cheese. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE mac and cheese? But the boxed varieties are full of preservatives, and not very creamy anyway, and the homemade kind is too difficult, with too many steps to mess up along the way – right?

WRONG!

If you don’t have a slow cooker (crockpot), run – not walk- to the nearest retailer to buy one (or borrow one from your neighbor) and collect the ingredients below, and voila! (as Abbey would say): Homemade mac and cheese that is the creamiest, most balanced, most amazing additional treat to your menu will be so so easy. I promise! You don’t even have to make a roux (which is how I have been making my homemade mac and cheese for the last few years, and if you’re saying “what’s that?” don’t worry. You don’t have to make one!!!!).

This recipe, which is one adapted from one that I found through Big Bear’s Wife, was received with great accolades and cries of “it’s so good!” from everyone in the house, ages 2 through well, daddy-age. It’s some of the best mac and cheese I have ever had myself.  It is a super simple recipe that is great for nights when time is scarce immediately before dinner. You can prep the crock pot at lunch time or slightly after (nap time anybody?), and then the mac and cheese is done, and warm and ready for you at dinner. Though I do have plans to figure out a way to replace the condensed cheese soup with something less processed, it really is delicious, comforting, and nearly preservative free just the way I made it.

The Recipe

I have re-written the recipe to the way that I prepared it, which is different from Big Bear’s Wife’s recipe in that my adaptation has fewer cans of condensed cheese soup, a smaller amount of sour cream and grated cheese, and adds an optional partial substitution of muenster cheese along with the cheddar. You can also use whole grain pasta with this recipe. I have not tried a gluten free pasta variety with this recipe, though I would love to hear feedback from any of my lovely readers that DOES decide to try!

16 oz Elbow or Shell pasta (or any small pasta) * This also works great with whole grain pasta!
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated muenster cheese **I love the mix, but 2 cups of only cheddar works, too!
8 oz sour cream
2 can (10oz cans) condensed cheese soup
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 6 minutes. Make sure NOT to overcook it! It will cook some more in the crock pot. Remove the pasta from the heat, drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and grated cheese on medium-low. Stir this until all of the cheese is melted. Be patient. It may take a few minutes. This may seem strange at first, because the cheese doesn’t look very creamy after this step. Do not worry. The crock pot does it’s magic well.

In a medium to large crockpot combine the condensed cheese soup, milk, salt, mustard, sour cream, paprika and pepper. Stir. Add in the melted cheese and stir well.

Add in the drained pasta. Mix well to combine. Set your crockpot to low, and let the mac cook on low for 2.5 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

And as Abbey would say. . . VOILA!

Joe's Apron and Chicken

Enjoy your delicious, creamy, not too cheesy, but just exceptionally amazing (and easy!) crockpot mac and cheese! (Joe thinks it goes really well with chicken fingers and fruit – or applesauce.)

Did you try it? Let me know how your family liked this recipe in the comments!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon November 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Nut Free Desserts for the Holidays — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama will be talking about navigating the holidays with peanut allergies in the family.
  • Making Peace with My Picky Eater — Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3. Thus began the dinner chronicles at Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s house.
  • Foodie Morphed by Motherhood — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis reflects on the changes of her family’s food culture since becoming a mother, and shares a snapshot of their current food rhythm.
  • Introducing First Foods — Wondering what your little one should take a bite of first? That Mama Gretchen explains baby-led weaning/baby self-feeding and answers a number of questions that may come to mind!
  • Feeding Your Family — Coconut Oil!!! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a coconut oil devotee. In this post, she shares her favorite ways to include coconut oil in her family’s diet as well as why she feels it is important to do so.
  • We Thank the Earth for its Food! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle spends hours in the kitchen each day trying to make medicine in the form of food.
  • Focusing on Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what her family is doing to eat healthily along with her recipe for gluten-free peanut butter oat bran muffins.
  • Intolerancesustainablemum laments the misunderstanding surrounding food intolerances.
  • Don’t Let Food Sensitivities Ruin Your Holidays! — Rachel, the Titus 2 Homemaker, talks about ways to enjoy the holidays even if you wrestle with food sensitivities.
  • Losing grains, keeping empathy: Paleo and fat acceptance — Lauren at Hobo Mama vlogs about her family’s decision to cut grains to improve health — and hopes she can retain her position as a proponent of size acceptance even as she loses weight.
  • Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness.
  • Extended Family Dinners — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about sharing family dinners with housemates and why it works for her.
  • Five Suggestions for Eating Healthy During the Holidays — No need to feel powerless when it comes to our highly sugared/processed food culture during the holidays &emdash; Andrea at It Takes Time offers tips to stay on track.
  • How to feed your family — no food required! — Jessica at JessicaCary.com is kind of obsessed with food. But, lately she’s realized there’s more to nourishment than what she cooks up in the kitchen.
  • Food as family medicine: living gluten-free and beyond — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama sticks to her gluten-free guns but sees room for improvement in her pursuit of a real-food family table.
  • Feeding My Family — Challenges and Growth — Susan at Together Walking shares what has been most challenging about feeding her two kids and how she has grown in the kitchen since becoming a mother.
  • How I Lost 75 Lbs — What I Eat & My Top 5 Tips — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how she and her family became healthy, happy and active.
  • The Weight of Motherhood — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution rethinks her relationship with food after struggling with post-pregnancy weight gain.
  • Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties — While Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and family might have food sensitivities, their geekery knows no limits. So, when faced with a desire to recreate Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, they do not shy away!
  • Pumpkin Harvest Muffins — This summer Mama is Inspired and family grew pumpkins, and this autumn they are baking scrumptious, healthy muffins out of those pumpkins.
  • Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares some of the considerations she explored before transitioning from a vegetarian diet to reintroducing meat as a protein source and a few tips on making it an easy one.
  • Thanksgiving Meal, Thankful? — Jorje of Momma Jorje has never felt terribly thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Perhaps that could change if she’s a little more invested?
  • 5 Ways to Use Healing Bone Broth — It’s that time of year again, when unpleasant little bugs make their way into our homes. For Megan of The Boho Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, homemade stock or bone broth is a natural remedy.

Comments

  1. Mmmm…this looks so good. Before we were dairy-free, I had a mac & cheese recipe that was scrumptious – this looks similar. Oh cheese, how I miss you!!
    ~Dionna & CodeNameMama.com

    • I love mac and cheese. I must admit I have always been afraid of cheese soup, but this is the second recipe this week I’ve seen that looks delicious to me.

      • It is SO GOOD. I’m currently trying to figure out if I could make and home-preserve my own “cheese soup” . . . more on that later!

  2. This looks tasty and easy! My two recipe requirements. :) A friend just had a new baby and the big sister is a big mac and cheese lover. I know now what I’m going to make and bring over!

    • Fantastic! I’m sure that they’ll love it! And you can share the recipe, too. So easy, my five year old can practically do it herself (with the exception of the melting butter and cheese). Congrats to your friend – new babies are always such a blessing!

  3. Looks delicious! Love the photos!!!

    • Thanks! Joe has been asking me every day to make more. “Mama, make mac and cheese?” LOL. You know it’s good when. . .

  4. Yum! I am a huge fan of mac & cheese. I didn’t even know you could grate Muenster — we’ve only ever gotten it in deli slices, lol. My boys would love that!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  2. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  3. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  4. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  5. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  6. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  7. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  8. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

  9. […] Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness. […]

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