Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

Is Macaroni Cheese the unofficial king of comfort food? The champion of family-friendly, fill-you-up deliciousness?  

Absolutely. There are few challengers who would take on the magical combination of cheese and pasta, plus, throw in some bacon and there’s just no contest.

Made in the traditional way, Macaroni Cheese can be a multi-pot explosion of dishwashing.  One pot to make the cheese sauce, one to boil your pasta, the colander to drain it and the baking dish to throw it all together in (from which you can expect to still be scrubbing burnt cheese off 3 days later).

Move on from the sink and get creative with this easy-peasy Crock-Pot recipe for Macaroni Cheese.  It’s a total 1-pot winner in which you add the ingredients and get on with your day……..for 2.5 hours at least!

This recipe makes a pretty jumbo sized batch, so get ready for a cook-once-eat-twice meal – I love it when this happens!

Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

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Ingredients

For the Macaroni Cheese;

1 x 500g bag of macaroni elbows

50gm butter

3 ½ cups hot milk

1 small onion finely chopped

300gm chopped bacon

½ tsp paprika

1 ½ cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 pack of Tatua cheese sauce

For the Dukkah Chicken;

Diced chicken thighs/breast as much as needed for your family

1tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tsp olive oil

Pepper & Me The Mother Dukkah to coat the chicken

Method

Combine all ingredients for Macaroni Cheese in your Crock-Pot.

Stir well.

Cook on high for 2.5 hours.

Dice chicken.

Toss in Worcestershire/soy sauce.  Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Add oil and chicken to pan, shake over The Mother Dukkah to coat and cook until chicken is ready.

Serve with some fresh chopped red capsicum and enjoy!

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Win a Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450 worth $159.99!

If you want to get inventive in the kitchen with your own amazing Crock-Pot then you’re in luck as I’m giving one away – actually I’m giving THREE away, so keep you eyes peeled for two more posts in my Crock-Pot series and two more chances to win!  (First post here)

Thanks to Crock-Pot for making this post possible.

> To win the Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this innovative Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 11/6/17, NZ residents only.

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Me and #MeTime

After a gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous, first-time-I’ve-ever-had-a-girls-trip, trip to Melbourne, I’ve been thinking a lot about this ‘me time’ business, as after four days without kids in tow, my cup was certainly running over with Me-time.

But what I’ve discovered is that ‘me time’ for one Mum is certainly not a one size fits all experience.  Time out from your daily routine, or simply modifying it in a way that revitalises us is undeniably important but, this can take an infinite number of forms.

For me, I have realised that ‘me time’ is not necessarily spent out of the house.  It’s not at a yoga or pilates class, it’s not getting a facial or massage (although believe me I wouldn’t say no to either lol) and it’s not having coffee or wine with girlfriends.

Though I may work from home, my job, my volunteer work at our rugby club, raising two really active, busy boys, maintaining a marriage and some semblance of order in our home means that I’m in and out, bustling all over Auckland each week.  My four days in Melbourne helped me realise that scheduling Me-time is actually as simple as just giving myself permission to simply be at home.

I’m a real homebody by nature so after six weeks of travelling on and off, all I want to do right now is stay at home and catch up on my laundry, life, housework, (maybe some actual paid work lol), some Netflix and get back into some kind of ‘predictable’ routine.  Being at home with my people makes me happy, but also being home without my people is nice, ie “Dave get the kids out of here puhleeeease”.  Why?  Because I need to tidy the house and as yawny as that sounds, a tidy home allows me to relax, it reduces my stress and anxiety levels and allows me to be a better mum, wife and general good human.

And that’s the whole point of Me-time right?

Like everyone else in the world (ok maybe just everyone else I know!) I’m a Netflix junkie.  So over the past 10 days I’ve been combining ME-time with chore-time and have caught up on some of my fave shows – how good is it not to have to be chained to your TV to get a good binge-watch going on right?

Check out my favourite Me-time shows below and keep your eyes on  Netflix because the mid-year new releases are looking insane!

Riverdale

I lOVE that Riverdale episodes are released weekly, I’d only missed a couple of shows whilst we were in Bali so getting caught up on the Archie-action wasn’t too overwhelming – those crazy Blossoms, my gosh!  This show is getting more and more twisted and it’s soooo good!

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House of Cards

Season 5 premieres on May 30 and I’ve got a LOT of catching up to do.  Kevin Spacey is a genius.  That’s all that needs to be said about HOC and why you need to keep watching.

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Orange is the New Black

My ride-or-die.  OITNB I have been waiting……..

The Season 4 finale was an absolute cliffhanger!  I’ve been hanging out for Season 5 and it’s coming in June!

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The Barkley Marathons

If you’re looking for something different and a one-off watch, check out this doco, especially if you have an interest in running or eventing.  The most extreme, crazy ultra-marathon in the world, entry costs a mere $1.60 but don’t be fooled, there have only been 15 finishers in its 25 year + history.

This is an amazing watch that will both make you laugh and blow your mind at the extremes of human endurance and tenacity.  Totally engrossing.

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Little Moments Matter + Fruit Tea Gummies Recipe

It’s Mother’s Day season again and like (I’m guessing!) 99% of you, I’m staring at the calendar and my multiple to-do lists wondering how it can be that we now find ourselves in MAY, on the cusp of winter and racing through 2017 at such a rate that I’m struggling to remember the big moments in our year so far, let alone the small moments that can make such a difference to our day-to-day lives.

That’s the quintessential paradox of modern parenting though, isn’t it?  Celebrate everything, be and do ALL the things, say yes with reckless abandon only to overcommit yourself and fill your days with all the trappings of BUSY.

This is my life.

My name is Melissa and I am a BUSY addict.

I don’t know how to stop being busy (I’d desperately like to, to be honest), but, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve to help me slow it down each day, even for just a few of minutes here and there.  Little moments do matter and can make a big difference in your day.

Do something special just for you

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We sneak little treats into the kids’ lunchboxes now and then, surprise our partners with a favourite meal or a date night but it’s not so often we go that extra mile for ourselves is it?  Certainly not on a daily basis.

I just can’t seem to drink enough water, which in turn affects everything from my mood to my overall health.  Taking the time to address this water deficit, is a tiny bit of self-investment that will pay off in the long run.  

What you can do:  Spend 5 minutes prepping a delicious, hydrating drink that you’ll want to sip on throughout the day!

  • Find a caffeine-free fruit tea that you love and whip up a cold brew to add to your flask or drink bottle.  I love Red Seal Lemon & Lime Hot or Cold Brew.
  • Add ice 
  • Add lemon and/or lime slices
  • Pat yourself on the back and drink up!

Create a Daily Ritual

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When my boys are at school or kindy, they eat morning tea and lunch at the same time every day.  My days, however, are random and blurry in which I’m flying by the seat of my pants 99% of the time.

What we can do: Identify a time of day during which you can sit, undisturbed, in a relatively peaceful environment and just BE.  It could mean leaving your desk at work to take a break instead of just working right through, it could be taking a moment for a cup of tea at 2.30 before school pick-up, or setting aside 10 minutes of reading time before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling social media.

Ritual and routine are important to help everyone feel grounded and they needn’t take up large chunks of time which we just don’t have.

Try Something New

When it comes to food trends, I am definitely NOT an early adopter, tech – yes, bone broth – no!

Nix does have congenital gut issues, however, so I’m always on the lookout for some great, natural food ideas that both he and his brother will love (HA!) and that may have some therapeutic benefits for his little digestive system.

Homemade, natural gummies have been popping up here and there on my social feeds lately.  They’re made with the protein-packed, collagen goodness of grass-fed gelatin (great for Nixie’s tummy and great for my skin!), so whipping up some delish, fruity gummy treats has been on my to-do list for ages.

What you can do: Getting creative and allowing yourself permission to fail can be quite liberating!  Take baby steps, stop putting off something you’ve wanted to try, enrol in that yoga class and make today awesome!

These gummies took me two attempts to perfect, but were not a massive time commitment as start to finish they take 45 minutes max and have only 5 ingredients!

Fruit Tea Gummies Recipe

Ingredients

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3/4 cup of diced fruit (I used pre-frozen then defrosted sliced peaches from our tree this summer)

1/2 cup of water with two Red Seal Hot or Cold Brew fruit tea bags (I used Raspberry & Strawberry)

1 1/2 tbsp of natural, grass-fed gelatin

1 tsp Red Seal Manuka Honey UMF5+

Coconut oil to grease moulds if you are using them.

Method

Puree your fruit.  I use my Nutribullet with a touch of water.

Add gelatin, brewed Red Seal tea and fruit to a small saucepan, stir to dissolve gelatin.

Add honey and whisk constantly over a low heat until fully combined, thickening a little and just simmering at the edges.

Grease silicone moulds (or use a glass dish lined with baking paper), pour mixture in and pop in the freezer.  They should set in about 20 minutes.

Pop gummies out of the moulds or lift out the baking paper and cut into pieces.

Enjoy!

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New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

WIN >  Make your own Red Seal Fruit Tea Gummies!

Want to try this easy-peasy recipe out at home for yourself?  Tell me which Red Seal tea flavour you’d most like to try (take a look here) by leaving me a comment below and you’re in the draw to win a 3-Pack of delicious fruit teas and two silicone moulds so you can whip up some yummy gummies at home.

Comp closes Sunday 21 May @10pm.  NZ residents only.

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Home Tech You’ll Love – Ring Video Doorbell

We had just landed in Melbourne last week and loaded into our taxi when I realised it was my phone that was ringing – a different kind of ring I didn’t immediately identify.  My brain fog cleared, I remembered my new Ring Video Doorbell app and opened it up to reveal one of our dogs caught on camera at our front door – where he was NOT supposed to be, imagine if that was Nixon?!

Heart attack.

After shooting off a text to Dave along the lines of, “Louie is roaming in the yard, trying to ring the doorbell BUT HAS NO THUMBS!  Please let him in”, I showed my girlfriends how our amazing new, Ring Video Doorbell works.

In a nutshell, the Ring Doorbell is a wide-angle HD camera, mounted by our front door that streams live video via your home WI-FI to your smartphone either when someone (or Louie lol) activates the customised motion sensor or presses the unit’s doorbell button.  This triggers a notification on the Ring smartphone app that someone is at the door!  How awesome is that?!

But we’re not done yet.  Once triggered, the HD video camera turns on so you can see who’s at the door and the two-way audio means that Louie and I can discuss the repercussions of small dogs escaping from the backyard – or I can just tell the courier that it’s fine to leave the package.  Either way, it’s amazing!

Install was easy, Dave had to pack out our door frame with some extra wood for mounting and he still had it up and operational within 30 minutes!

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Aside from the obvious convenience of being able to communicate with someone who’s at your door when you’re not home, I LOVE the security features that are included with Ring.  Night Vision captures motion and activity around the clock, the unit’s design is weather resistant, there’s lifetime purchase protection if your Ring Video Doorbell is stolen plus, video recording is an optional add-on.

This incredible (easy to install, totally sensible) piece of video tech is now available in New Zealand from leading retailers Noel Leeming, Mitre 10 and Harvey Norman, RRP $349, but I have one to giveaway!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Ring Video Doorbell

Win a Ring Video Doorbell worth $349!

I love, love, love our Ring and am super excited to have one to share with you guys.

If you would like to experience the awesomeness of a Ring Video Doorbell at your home, leave me a comment below and tell me which feature of Ring you think is seriously amazing > find out more here

Competition closes Sunday 21st May, NZ residents only.

The Ring Video Doorbell was sent to The Best Nest for editorial review.  All opinions are my own.

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Crock-Pot Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe

Ooohhhh yaassss, come at me chicken wraps!  

PF Chang’s is a popular restaurant chain in California that serves a lettuce wrap dish and people go gaga over them.  I ate there once and wasn’t flipping out over them to the point that I felt I would never be able to recreate them at home.  I mean, they were totally delicious, but not intimidatingly delicious, does that make sense?

Fact: I did recreate them successfully.

Fact: They are super easy!

These lettuce wraps are filling, warming, and pretty healthy without even trying to be an on trend hipster-paleo dish.  I LOVE that lol.  

The title may have been a giveaway lol, but this is indeed a Crock-Pot recipe so you can get the dinner prep crossed off your list before witching hour arrives and all hell breaks loose – or is that just my house???

To get this dish off to a great start I sauteed the chicken mince on our gas stove top first – in the Crock-Pot pot!  No switching pans and making extra dishes, the new Sear & Slow model is induction, gas and electric ready so you can make the most of those delicious flavours and keep them all in one pot!

Recipe: Crock-Pot Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Ingredients:

600 gm Chicken mince

1 cup Rice uncooked

1 x Medium onion chopped

2 Cloves garlic

2 Green onions chopped

½ Red capsicum

1 Tbsp Grated ginger

1 Tsp Red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp Olive oil

½ cup Hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp Soy sauce

1 Tbsp Rice wine vinegar

1 ½ Tsp Sesame Oil

1 Can water chestnuts, drained

¼ Cup sliced cashews

Iceberg lettuce

Mung bean sprouts to serve

Method:

  1. In olive oil, saute onions, garlic and chicken on stove-top in Crock-Pot Sear & Slow pot until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add chopped capsicum, grated ginger, red pepper flakes, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and salt and pepper to pot.  Cook on low for 3 hours.
  3. Cook rice.
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  4. Add rice, water chestnuts, green onions, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and cashews to mixture.  Stir through and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Gently pull apart lettuce leaves, fill with chicken mix and garnish with mung bean sprouts to serve.

Adapt for kids – The boys weren’t too keen on the idea of the lettuce wraps so we switched theirs out for flour tortillas and dinner was served.

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Win a Crock-Pot® Sear & Slow – CHP700 worth $299.99!

If you want to get inventive in the kitchen with your own amazing Crock-Pot then you’re in luck as I’m giving one away – actually I’m giving THREE away, so keep you eyes peeled for two more posts in my Crock-Pot series and two more chances to win!

> To win the Crock-Pot® Sear & Slow – CHP700, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this innovative Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 18 May 2017, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker asian chicken lettuce wraps recipe