Today was our office Friendsgiving Potluck. What a great event. I wasn’t sure people would participate, but the selection of grub was impressive. We catered the mains-turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes & gravy. The rest of the meal was potluck! Every side dish and dessert you can imagine was represented. There were even Cranberry Moscow Mules! (Yes, my office is liberal.)

Before & After

I had committed to both an appetizer and a side dish. These two were simple and covered both the gluten/dairy lovers and the low-carb gluten free folks. Everybody wins!

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The Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts & Crack Mac (‘n Cheese)

The Aftermath. There wasn’t even a bacon bit left! Empty bowls are success to me! #pattingmyselfontheback. Recipes Below.

The Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts

Browsing cookbooks is a favorite guilty pleasure for me. Anthony Bordain’s new book, Appetites, just arrived in the mail.  I found a great sweet and spicy bar nuts recipe in the book and knew this recipe was to become dish #1 for my potluck.

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They were so good!  It makes a huge batch (5 pounds of nuts!). You could probably cut it in half for a ‘normal’ size gathering.

Stir together mixed nuts (5 pounds) with cinnamon (2T), sugar (1/2 c), brown sugar (1/4 c), salt (1-1/2 T)and cayenne pepper (1-1/2 T). Whisk your egg whites (4) until almost stiff. I did these by hand, so my arm was nearly stiffer than the eggs!

Fold in the egg whites and stir until the nuts are completely coated with the whites and the spices.

Split the contents of the bowl between two large baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats.

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Bake at 325F for 15 minutes. Stir the nuts and rotate the pans. Bake another 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.

TIP: TRUST THE RECIPE! They crisp up when they cool! I put them back in because I thought they were too sticky and they ended up a little overcooked.

If this recipe is indicative of others in the book, I will use it a lot.

Crack Mac (‘n Cheese)

Last night when I was trying to figure out which side to bring, it hit me… the words of my kids rang in my ears…”Mom, make the mac ‘n cheese. That’s what everybody wants anyway.” Viola! Dish #2!

They’re right! This is one of my family favorites, and mine, too, because once you load the crockpot, and you’re home free. This is definitely family-size, so half the recipe for a smaller group. We like to make a lot so we have leftovers. The noodles heat up perfectly the next day.

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This is too easy. Pour in the noodles, top with butter, cheese, milk  and spices. (Full Recipe Below.) Cook on Low for 2-3 hours. Maybe I’m just impatient and can’t let it sit, but you’ll want to stir it about once per hour to make sure the noodles cook evenly.

I serve it with bacon bits on the side, just in case someone wants to make it extra decadent.  But don’t stop there! Make a crunchy topping, or try green onions. My son even likes to eat it with pepperoni. Yum!

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Crack Mac (‘n Cheese)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Credit: hummingthesnail.com

Ingredients

  • 5 cups milk
  • 2 (12- ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 lbs. penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 8 ounces Velveeta, cubed
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, evaporated milk, salt, pepper and paprika. Set aside.
  2. In a 5-Quart Crock Pot, pour your DRY (uncooked) noodles.
  3. Top the noodles with the butter and cheese, then pour the milk mixture over the top. Stir well.
  4. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours. Stir every hour to ensure the noodles cook evenly.
  5. The dish is done when the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are fully cooked.
  6. TIP: If it gets a little thick, feel free to stir in ¼ cup of milk or cream just before serving to bring back the creaminess.