It was Southern night at my house! BBQ chicken with sides of mac and cheese, cornbread, and coleslaw. My cooking mantra (you may have picked up on by now) is to focus on one or two dinner items to prepare from scratch and then take a little help from the store for the rest. Most of us don’t have the time or energy every day to cook every single thing we eat from scratch, so there is no shame in doing a little of both to maintain a balance…and your sanity!
**Side note: We do not use mixes in our bakery’s baked goods. Recipes are made from scratch. Just wanted to be clear that my kitchen mantra applies to my home kitchen, not my bakery.**
For the chicken, Brad (he mans the bbq while I make the rest!) cooked boneless chicken breasts on the bbq grill and topped it with Apple Butter BBQ Sauce that you can buy at Montana’s restaurant. If you haven’t tried it, you should. They sell all of their BBQ sauces but I honestly haven’t tried any of the others since I love the apple butter so much. The other store help I took was for the coleslaw choosing to buy a package of pre-shredded cabbage/carrots and used pre-made dressing. And I don’t feel guilty in the least.
So now onto the stars of dinner where the real love comes in… I have several recipes I use when making Mac & Cheese (an oven version, a couple of stovetop versions) but I have been wanting to test a version that would work in a slow cooker that didn’t require pre-boiling the pasta. I mean, what is the point of that? May as well make the whole thing on the stovetop and/or finish in the oven then, right? If we’re going to make it easy (which to me means, slow cooker!) then let’s get serious about it.
So for the Mac & Cheese, simply pour into your crockpot: both milks, hot sauce, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine then pour in dry macaroni noodles, cheeses, and butter.
Give it a good stir, put the cover on and then set on low for 2.5 to 3 hours, stirring at least once in between. Note about cheese: I do not recommend using bagged, pre-shredded cheese as it has an added coating to keep it from clumping together in the bag which can cause a grainy texture in your mac and cheese. Use block cheese and shred it yourself when making any creamy style mac and cheese.
You will be shocked to see the extra creamy, super cheesy noodles that are in your crock and find it hard to believe that you started with uncooked noodles! But look….so yummy! You may find you need to add more milk towards the end depending on how thick and creamy you like it. I tend to add another 1/2 to 3/4 cup a little at a time before I serve it so it stays nice a smooth.
While the mac and cheese is cooking away, mix up your cornbread. You can choose to bake this in a large pan and cut pieces of cornbread or do as I did and bake it into corn muffins. If given the choice, I will typically choose to make anything in a muffin tin, given my profession! This is a sweet cornbread recipe so if you prefer a less sweet cornbread then simply reduce the amount of sugar you use.
Start by whisking together in a large mixing bowl: butter, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Sprinkle over top of wet mixture: salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Whisk to combine. Add cornmeal and flour and stir to combine. (I switch to a spatula before mixing in the dry ingredients, I just find it easier and less messy than a whisk at this point.)
Portion into 12 lined muffin tins.
Bake at 350 F for 18-22 mins until a toothpick comes out clean.
These sides also pair well with any bbq dish, like ribs or crispy fried chicken. They are also easy ones to make to serve as sides at a family bbq with burgers and dogs. Hope you enjoy!
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Prehear oven to 350 F. Whisk together in a large mixing bowl: butter, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sprinkle over top of wet mixture: salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Add cornmeal and flour and stir to combine. Portion into 12 lined muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 mins until a toothpick comes out clean.
Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb (454g) elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1/2 small pkg Velveeta cheese (approx 4 oz), cubed
- 2-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated* (see note above about cheese)
- 2-1/2 cups milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce (prefer Frank’s)
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
Pour both milks, salt, pepper, mustard, and hot sauce into your crockpot and stir to combine. Add uncooked macaroni, butter, and both cheeses and stir to combine.. Put cover on crock and set to low for 2.5 to 3 hours, stirring at least once halfway through cooking.
Hi, I'm TJ!
Welcome to Susie's!
This blog focuses on sweet treats as well as family dinners. Join me in my retail bakery as well as in my home kitchen where you'll find a variety of yummy recipes, some indulgent and some healthy lifestyle too.