Mac ‘n Pimento Cheese

The secret ingredient!

The secret ingredient!

Spoilers: this recipe contains a secret ingredient. Of course, trained chef’s are reluctant to tell their secrets, but I’m not a chef. I’m just a decent cook. Says so on my business card. But this dish has received too many great comments from taste-testers to keep the recipe under wraps. It’s easy to assemble, cooks in the slow-cooker so you don’t have to watch it much, and is a great twist on what might be the world’s most popular comfort food.

Did I sell you on it?

I hope so.

Next time you need something new for a potluck, try this version of Mac ‘n Pimento Cheese!


  • A 4.5 quart crock pot, or the equivalent-sized oven-safe casserole dish or pot.


  • 16 oz. cooked macaroni (I use spirals, but the traditional elbow style will be fine)
    • Helpful hint: cook the macaroni the day before and keep refrigerated until needed. Saves time the next day when you are worried about the guests coming early. And they always come early.
  • 10 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 12 oz. Pimento Cheese
    • Spoiler: I use Palmetto Cheese with Jalapeno as my secret ingredient. This South Carolina low country specialty food is thankfully available in most higher quality grocery stores, or online here.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (any version that works for you. Except chocolate milk. That would be a bad choice.)
  • 12 oz. Evaporated Milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced


I use a “layer” approach to building this mac ‘n cheese.

  • Place enough cooked macaroni in the bottom of the crock pot to cover the bottom.
  • Sprinkle a handful of shredded Colby Jack cheese on top of the cooked macaroni.
  • Using a small spoon, or a melon baller, place 4 – 5 small scoops of pimento cheese evenly on top of the Colby Jack cheese. I do four corners and a center.
    • Helpful hint: use the spoon to spread the pimento cheese into a thin layer across the entire pot.
  • Repeat the layering of macaroni, Colby Jack cheese, and pimento cheese. Make the top layer one of the cheeses.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients.
  • Pour the liquid mixture on top of the macaroni and cheese. Try to drizzle it around the entire top surface so liquid will seep down throughout the crock pot.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours. If using the oven, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  • Now check the inside of the crock pot wall. Using a plastic spatula, scrape the macaroni away to keep the cheese from forming a burnt crust.
  • If your mac ‘n cheese has thickened to the point a large spoonful will maintain its shape, you are done!
    • If still soggy, then cover and continue to cook for 30 additional minutes.
    • Check again. The dish should be done.
      • The longest I have let this cook is 4 hours, but I ended up with a thick inedible crust which wasted probably three servings.

This dish has won rave reviews from both office-mates and church ladies. I don’t which group has the more discriminating palate, but on both occasions I returned home with zero leftovers.





Smokey Black Beans and Rice

Smokey Black Beans & Rice

Smokey Black Beans & Rice

A good friend living in Nicaragua (see footnote) asked if I could post a recipe or two that would work for her, given the lack of gourmet grocery stores in her part of the world. Having lived there myself, years ago, I knew gallo pinto, or rice and beans, was a staple, and she confirmed nothing had changed. So to help out – here is a great recipe to spice things up a bit!

This is best done with a crock pot / slow cooker; but you can also make this in a regular pot on the stove, cooking over low heat. You may need to stir at times to keep things from sticking and burning to the bottom of your pot.

Smokey Black Beans and Rice

Serves 8 – 10, depending on your serving size. I used one big ladle per serving.


4 Tablespoons of olive oil (you could use vegetable or peanut oil – whatever you have)

1 onion, chopped – any type will do. I used a Vidalia

1 red bell pepper, cored/seeded, and chopped

1 green bell pepper, cored/seeded, and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

8 cups cooked (and drained) black beans

1 cup uncooked white rice

3 Tablespoons smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons black pepper

(I didn’t use any salt – personal choice.)

5 cups liquid – I used 3 cups of unsalted vegetable stock and 2 cups of water.


Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion, bell peppers, carrot, and garlic for about 10 minutes. When the onions start to become translucent, you are ready to move on.

Sauteing the vegetables.

Sauteing the vegetables.

Put the black beans in the crock pot, stir in the sauteed vegetables.

Mix in the uncooked rice, smoked paprika, and black pepper.

Pour in the 5 cups of liquid. Gently stir into the mix. You want enough liquid to just cover the rice, beans, and vegetables.

Just before cooking started.

Just before cooking started.

Cover and simmer for 8 hours, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.


Pairs well with fried plantain slices dusted with a bit of sugar and cinnamon.

This is perfect in any climate – from the wonderfully warm temperatures of Nicaragua, to the frozen tundra I currently find myself inhabiting in Virginia.

* If you want to help children in need, and can spare a few dollars a month – please consider sending a donation to Thanks!

Who ordered all this snow? Not me.

Who ordered all this snow? Not me.





DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

DJ's Vindaloo Ragout

DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

The flavor knocks your socks off when you first cook it. The next day? Hold on to your skivvies!

This dish is a slow-cooked stew of chickpeas and potatoes, simmered for hours in a well-seasoned tomato sauce. You could make this dish using a crock pot or a stove top sauce pan; either works well as long as you have the lid or cover. You can make the vindaloo as spicy as you want, but don’t make it any less.  In India, they have two other versions much “hotter” than this. So we can’t really complain, can we? Besides, if you need a little zippity in your do-dah, this will do it for you!

Time required:  prep 15 minutes &  cooking 2 hours or more depending on size of diced potatoes and cooking temperature

Serves: 10 or so when accompanied with rice as a side dish. Naan or flatbread works well, too!

Ingredients- Part 1:

(1) 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies

(1) 6 oz. can tomato paste

(1) green bell pepper, cored and diced

(1/2) yellow onion, diced

(4) cloves garlic, minced

(1/2) cup water

(2) Tablespoons Sherry vinegar

(2) Tablespoons olive oil

(1) Tablespoon parsley flakes

(1) Tablespoon finely chopped, fresh ginger (if you don’t have fresh ginger, go get some. There is no subbing on this one!)

(1) Tablespoon crushed red pepper

(1) teaspoon curry

(1/2) teaspoon turmeric

(1/4) teaspoon cardamom

(1/4) teaspoon coriander

Ingredients – Part 2:

(2) cups cooked chickpeas

(2) cups diced raw potatoes

(1) cup water

(1/2) cup pineapple chunks. You know – chunks. Not too small, but not too big? Fits on your fork, and in your mouth for one bite? Yeah, that’s the size you want.


Mix the ‘part 1 ingredients’ in a large sauce pan for the stove top method, or slow-cooker / crock pot.

Using medium heat, warm the sauce, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. Note: if using a slow-cooker, just stir to mix the ingredients, then set on low heat and leave it alone.

For stove top pans, when the sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to low.

Now add the ‘part 2 ingredients’ and gently stir until the potatoes and chickpeas are covered by the sauce.

Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours using the stove top method, or 4 hours on low heat if using a slow-cooker.

Stir occasionally for both methods.

<tick tock tick tock – 2 or 4 hours later >

The Vindaloo Ragout is done!

Serve with white rice, couscous, or quinoa. Some sauteed fresh green beans, seasoned with garlic of course, makes the meal complete.

Except the wine. You need wine. Lemonade works, too. I prefer, well, you know.










Tasty Turkey Chili


Turkey Chili - Perfect for a Wintry Day!

Okay, so you have a busy schedule. Maybe you have a job, possibly you have two? Then there are those kids. Don’t forget to take the dogs out for a walk. Homework, anyone? Oh yes, save some quarters, your laundry pile now has its’ own zip code.
Time to cook? No way…
Unless you have a slow cooker, commonly known in these parts as a “crock pot.”
Nothing gourmet here. Easy to prepare, no special skill required as long as you can operate a can opener. This is the perfect recipe for the young lad or lass out on their own for the first time. It works great for the mom or dad that has to juggle cooking with all the normal demands of life like, oh you know, ballet/work/karate/work/soccer/work/football/work/after school club of your choice/work. Then there’s your boss. No stress in your life. Nope. Not a bit. Heck, this recipe will even work for you!

Don’t forget these safety tips:
Make sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked. The poultry must reach 165 degrees F. (74 degrees C.) A cooking thermometer is a wise investment and will give you piece of mind when cooking turkey.
And the biggie: Wash your hands after you touch raw turkey. Every time. Don’t handle raw turkey, then pick up a spoon or something… and then wash your hands. You’ll probably pick that spoon up later and risk a night in the emergency room.

Note: I use ground turkey for this recipe. I cook it separately with no added spices. This way, I can see the pink disappear as the bird cooks. Once everything has that odd-looking, white-ish color, I know it is time to check the temperature. Adding spices before this point might mask some raw turkey.
Now for the recipe (remember – nothing gourmet, just good)

2 pounds ground turkey
2 cans white beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes with green bell pepper, onion and celery
6 oz. white cheddar cheese, cut into one ounce chunks
To Taste:
Tabasco Sauce – go big or go to Denny’s…
Chili Powder
Black Pepper

In a large skillet, cook the ground turkey until done. (165 degrees, remember?)
Drain the grease and place the cooked turkey into a large crock pot.
Dust the turkey with chili powder and black pepper,
Add the three cans of beans and the cheese.
Add the spices to your taste. Make it as spicy or as mild as you prefer.
Now, add enough water to cover what is in the crock pot. It will reduce, no worries.
Cover the crock pot and cook on low.

8 hours later, give it a good stir. Add water if you need to but it will probably be ready to eat!

Serve with a good hearty slice of bread and a glass of red wine.

Buen Provecho, amigos!

Slow-Cooked Turkey – for those on the go!


This was a hit.  Less than ten minutes to prepare, cooked in the crock pot while I was at work, and less than ten minutes to make ready for the dinner plates.  Even clean-up was fast and easy!  Try it sometime and let me know what you think!


– Small Turkey (make sure it will fit in your crock pot…or use as an excuse to get a bigger cooker!)

– one half cup of water.

– just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bird.

– sun dried tomatoes, just a few – chopped up finely.

– to taste: minced garlic, chopped onion, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.


After washing and drying the turkey, place in slow-cooker, skin side up.  Make sure there are no gravy packets stuffed inside, or a wayward neck bone stuffed in the front.  I forgot to check once, and I still remember THAT smell…  Add the half cup of water to the pot. Coat the turkey lightly with olive oil.  Add the sun dried tomatoes, onion and spices to the skin, and don’t worry if some fall off, as long as they stay in the crock pot!  While it looks like you are seasoning the skin, you are really making the start of a good gravy!

Cover the crock pot; turn on low.  Come back 8 hours later. (I came back 9 hours later and it was just fine…)

Using large forks or tongs, pull the meat from the bones and place in a separate serving dish.  Once you have the all the meat in a serving dish, use a ladle or large spoon to transfer the remaining liquid to a sauce pan.  It is okay if some  meat, onion and tomato end up in there, too, but leave out the rest, as in the bones and fats, etc.  Bring to a low boil, add a little corn starch if you like, and you will have a nice, savory gravy.

Whatever is left in the crock pot is ready for the trash can.  Once cool, clean up is fast and easy!

Goes well with baked potatoes (make sure you poke them with a fork BEFORE baking…see title…and a green vegetable of your choice.  I used green beans.  Our 7 pound turkey made enough for over 10 dinner plates. I didn’t crunch the numbers, but dollar for dollar this looked to be the best buy as far as turkey. Heck, a pound of sliced turkey at my grocery deli runs about $4.50 to $7.00 a pound, depending on brand, and I didn’t pay more than 10 dollars for a whole bird.

Thanksgiving is coming up. If you are feeding four or less, this could be just the idea you have been looking for.

Gobble gobble!