Easy Slow Cooker Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

This recipe is all my own; created out of love for both macaroni and cheese and my slow cooker! I used chick pea pasta for added protein as well as broccoli to help get more nutrients into my kids! My version of slow cooker mac-n-cheese is super creamy, delicious and sure to please! Enjoy.

Ingredients: Feeds 6 – 8

  • cooking spray
  • 12 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • 8 oz uncooked pasta (I use Banza chick pea pasta)
  • 1, 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 lb of butter sliced into 4 – 6 pats
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of paprika
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Place the frozen broccoli in the bottom then add the pasta.
  3. Nestle the block of cream cheese in the center and place pats of butter throughout.
  4. Pour milk and stock over the mixture and sprinkle with seasonings.
  5. Spread the shredded cheese on top, keeping it from touching the sides of the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on LOW for 2 – 3 hours or until pasta is cooked to your liking. One hour into cooking, give everything a good stir. Stir once more before serving!

Note:

  • Chick pea pasta can get mushy… quickly, and in this recipe tends to lose its shape/consistency. If you want your mac to remain intact/whole I suggest you use regular pasta!

Lobster Luvah Mac-n-Cheese

I make home made mac-n-cheese all the time so adding lobster meat didn’t seem like a stretch when my daughter asked me to jazz things up for her special birthday meal! Although I used Monterey Jack cheese, you could try a mix of cheddar and jack or even something creamy and decadent like mascarpone. I added truffle oil to my sauce just because it seemed like the right thing to do as well as Old Bay seasoning to the breadcrumb topping! Overall, this dish was an utter hit and everyone at the table, including the birthday girl, was blown away! 

Ingredients: Feeds 8 – 10

  • 1 1/4 lbs of steamed lobster tail meat*, chopped
  • 1 lb. Cellentani macaroni (or any medium spiral shaped pasta)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2  small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 pint light cream (at room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups of low fat milk (also at room temp)
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • 12 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (plus additional for topping)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to box directions. Drain and set aside when done cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 3 tbsp of butter over low to medium heat and sauté the onions until they begin to soften. Add the mustard and the garlic. Then add the flour to the mixture and whisk to combine. The mixture will appear lumpy.
  3. Slowly add the cream and the milk and then the truffle oil. Whisk until well incorporated and mixture has little to no lumps. Leave sauce to simmer over low heat. Stir frequently while allowing sauce to thicken. Do not let sauce boil over!
  4. While sauce cooks, combine 2 tbsp butter, the Panko and Old Bay seasoning in a small lidded pot. Cook over low heat until butter melts and bread crumbs are saturated and lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 325.
  6. Once the sauce has begun to thicken and has reduced some, start adding small amounts of shredded cheese as you continue to stir. Once all the cheese has been blended in, add the fresh pepper and salt to taste.
  7. In a large prep bowl, combine drained pasta, cheese sauce and steamed lobster meat. Mix well and transfer to a lightly greased glass 9×13 casserole dish. Top with additional shredded cheese if desired. Sprinkle with toasted/seasoned breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, covered. Remove foil and broil 3 – 5 minutes to crisp up the bread crumb topping.
  9. Serve immediately and prepare yourself for the onslaught of compliments sure to follow!! Enjoy 🙂

Suggestion:

* I bought three, 7 oz,  frozen lobster tails from my local seafood market. I unwrapped them and defrosted them in a colander in my kitchen sink. Once thawed, I steamed them in a large pot for 10 minutes, then rinsed them under cold water directly to prevent them from continuing to cook. Once they could be handled, I used my kitchen shears to remove the shells and then chopped the meat using a large chef’s knife.