Crock Pot Easy-Cheesy-Pasta…

This was a recipe that I made up during grad school to feed a group of gaming friends.  So I was a lot younger and could stand the high calories back then.  Well not really, but I tell myself that.  It can evolve over time and there are many more like it out there.  A lot of variations in the ingredients so you can run with it yourself and or try new things yourself.

The Ingredients

Ingredients
Ingredients… Most of them.

Here is a list of the basic ingredients.  You can make or configure it how you wish.

  • Mozzarella Cheese – 3/4-1 lb shredded
  • 1 lb Firm Pasta – Elbow used this time but have used penne before
  • Pasta Sauce – Used the Packet & Tomato Paste this time but a Jar of pre-made sauce will work.
  • Diced Tomatoes – 1 can
  • Italian Seasoning – I like to add a little more than what comes in the packet or jar of sauce
  • Hamburger – 1 lb browned

Additional/Optional Ingredients

Here are some more ingredients.  Some I think should always be there but it is based on your taste.

  • Black Olives – 1 can, drained
  • Mushrooms – 1 small can, drained
  • Minced Garlic – Not really optional in my opinion
  • Sautéed Onions – 1/2 to 1 Medium White or Yellow Onion
  • Ricotta or Cottage Cheese – Cut back on Mozzarella added to sauce
  • Cheddar Cheese – Shredded, again if you use this cut back on the amount of Mozzarella
  • Crushed Red Peppers – To taste, add to sauce when cooking, I didn’t add this time because of House Mates

Equipment Used

I used the following:

  • Pot and Strainer for Pasta
  • Skillet for Hamburger Meat
  • Large Spoon for stirring/serving
  • Crock Pot

Cooking

This dish takes a some time to cook.  Mainly because of the time for the sauce to cook before adding all the rest of the ingredients.

Last Step, Heat & Eat
Cheese added to Crock Pot

First get the crock pot out and make your sauce in it.  If you are using the packet sauce, like I did this time, mixed up like the packet says.  Then add the diced tomatoes and hamburger to it.  If you are adding other ingredients to the sauce add those too (onions, garlic, olives, mushrooms, spices, not cheese).  You want the sauce to be a little runny once cooked.  So don’t worry if it does not thickened up.  That is a good thing.

Once the sauce has had some time to cook you will want to start the pasta.  Cook the pasta until just al dente.  You want to have it finish cooking in the crock pot and to absorb some of the extra fluid of the sauce.  Once cooked add it directly to the crock pot and sauce.  Stir the pasta into the sauce and let cook for about 10 more minutes.

Finally stir in most of the cheese into the pasta/sauce mixture.  You will want to keep enough cheese out to cover the top (see picture).  If you use something other than Shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese you may want to stir that in at the same time as the pasta to let it have a little more cook time. Replace the crock pot lid and let it sit until the cheese has fully melted.  Once melted it is time to eat.

Toppings

I haven’t used many toppings in the past.  It is mainly come and eat it, give me a plate or bowl kind of food.  Here are some suggestions that you might like, if you want to add something a little more.

  • Bacon, ALWAYS BACON… I actually have never done it but crumbled bacon would be good on top.  It would give it an extra crunch that might be needed.
  • Parmesan Cheese – It is a pasta dish after all.
  • Green Onions – diced

Sides

You really need to eat some veggies with this as it is really heavy, lots of cheese and pasta.  So I would suggest anything you typically have with lasagna.

  • Broccoli
  • Salad
  • Green Beans
  • Garlic Bread
  • etc.

Summing It Up

My house mate love it and has pretty much finished off the leftovers.  It makes a lot so should feed a good-sized family, especially if you have sides.  So relax, don’t worry and have ABigBeer.  I would probably drink a crisp IPA with this.


Please let us know if you like it by giving Feedback or commenting below:

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The Ramen Competition…

It is time for a College Survival Recipe and after that a Challenge to you the reader.  Might as well make this a little fun and give you an idea for how to have some fun with friends and family, or at least at their dietary expense.  The ingredient, one that we all love and hate: Ramen Noodles… The simple part of the challenge is to make them eatable.  More on that later.  Either way, love them or hate them, for a broke college student or young adult or in our house a teenager’s staple, they provided a mean to “survive” many days.  While some will argue that survival is a pretty liberal term used here, Ramen does stave off pangs of hunger.

The recipe provided here is not the traditional Ramen Soup as seen on the package.  Below I provide a list of ingredients to add and a different way to cook the noodles.  In college I did not have these added ingredients, so although this is a Ramen dish, you may argue that it is not much of a college dish.  The method of cooking is strictly a college application as that is when I was taught this way of preparing a noodle dish.  Therefore I call it college because of the base ingredient Ramen.  Do I call it Ramen Gourmet?  NO WAY!

The Ingredients

Ingredeints
Ingredients used in cooking

So where did this combination of ingredients come from?  Easy this is from having some leftovers in the fridge and not wanting to eat them in the same way again and seeing what was available in the kitchen.  The ingredients:

  • Ramen (2) – On this day Chicken Flavored, used both flavor packets
  • Water
  • Toasted Sesame Oil (Hot)
  • Diced Onion
  • Garlic Powder (Optional) – I like minced garlic but didn’t have on hand.
  • Soy Sauce (Optional) – Was in the fridge.
  • Cooked Chicken Strips (2) – Diced, Seasoned?

So we had a couple of chicken strips left over from a couple of nights before.  Just so you know the amount of chicken was about 1/3 of a breast piece.  The chicken is spiced with some rub and grilled on a George.  I have found that a citrus-cilantro rub on the chicken actually enhances this recipe.  It really doesn’t matter how or if the chicken is seasoned.

There are some optional ingredients listed above and below in the garnish section.  They are strictly a personal taste issue.  Really everything but the Ramen could be considered optional if you wanted, but I kind of like this dish.

Tools Used

I used the following items while cooking:

  • Stove top
  • Skillet
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Bowl & Fork

Cooking

Sauté Onions in Oil
Sauté Onions to desired level

Start off by adding a little oil to your skilled and put it on to heat.  Again you don’t need the oil I used but it does add a good flavor.  You could use a little olive or vegetable oil instead.  While the oil and skillet is getting hot dice up the onion.  As you can see in the picture you don’t have to have a fine dice on the onions.  Once diced add to skillet and sauté as desired.   For me I like to have the onion translucent.

 

 

 

Cook Started
Ramen, Garlic & Soy added to the skillet

Once you have the sauté on the onion take the skillet to the sink and add water.  This is where it gets a little subjective on the amount.  I have never measured the amount.  I add enough water to where it is about 2/3 of the thickness of the Ramen.  This will vary based on the size of your skillet so it may take some trial and error on your part.  The good thing about it is that it really doesn’t matter much.  So don’t worry about it.  Relax.  Put the skillet back on the stove top and turn up the heat to high.  Add the Ramen and their flavor packets to the water.  Also add garlic powder and soy sauce to taste… well to match your tastes since you will not really be tasting at this point.

 

Cooking
Cook down until Ramen Soft

While the water is heating up to a boil you can dice the chicken.

Once the Ramen begin to soften a little in the water flip them.  Let them cook a little bit more so that they become loose.  When you can start stirring them around in the water do so.  This will mix them with the water and added seasoning.  You will continue cooking the noodles until most of the water has either been absorbed into the noodles or boiled off.  For me I like this dish to be mostly dry so I do not leave if very soupy in the skillet.  Again this is a personal issue and may take you some trail and error.

 

Add Chicken
Add the chicken to Ramens

After boiling off most of the water add the chicken to the dish.  I then stir in the chicken so that it become thoroughly heated and the last bit of water, that I wish to have removed from the skillet, boils off.  This should not take more than 30 seconds to a minute, but don’t worry if you want to do it for longer or decide to boil off more water.

Once heated and fully mixed slide the mixture into a bowl for eating.  As you can see it is not really soup anymore, but a noodle dish, so I use a fork to eat my Ramen.

 

Add-ons

Sriracha
Finishing Touch

Season how you like.  I like a little more spice in mine so I add Sriracha.  It really is up to you and what you have available to add.  Some suggestions include:

  • Sriracha
  • Green Onion
  • Crushed Peanuts (Note, I have added peanuts in the cook before and I like them that way too.)
  • Crushed Cashews
  • Soy Sauce
  • Citrus Juice (Lemon or Lime)
  • Etc.

I like adding the nuts to the top as a garnish because it adds a little crunch to the dish.  I just didn’t have any this day.

Eat!

Season Serve
Add Seasoning and Serve

Challenge

OK, so here is a challenge.  Get some Ramen packages and invite your friends to your house for a cooking challenge.  Hand them each a package and tell them they have to use both the noodles and flavor packet completely, but otherwise can add whatever they can find to enhance the dish.  Figure out your own “Chopped” rules or timing schedule for use of the kitchen. Sit back and enjoy the results.  Of course you will have to have some ingredients they can use.  Can’t really throw them at a fridge with only a few condiment packages and beer in it… That is the typical college fridge though so maybe that is a good challenge.

Dining

If you liked this recipe please let us know in the comments.  If you try it and figure out new ways to make it better please let us know.  We would love to enhance our own creations.

So sit back, relax, and have ABigBeer while you enjoy the results.


We hope you like this recipe.  Please give feedback or comment below:

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