A slow cooker is a staple in Jason Miller’s kitchen.
He had six of his own but inherited another six from his dad.
“Being a single guy that lives alone, it’s great in the morning to just throw something in there, come home and it’s ready to go,” Miller said.
There are meals he will make that he uses three separate slow cookers, because it’s just so easy.
“You just put stuff in, let it go and it does its thing.”
He used one, a gift that had the Ohio State University logo on it, to make this Triple Cheddar Mac and Cheese.
Miller said he started cooking with his dad seven or eight years ago when they began contributing to the family’s Thanksgiving meal.
As his grandparents were getting older and couldn’t cook the entire meal, the two started doing desserts.
Their contribution the first year was a dessert pizza. They added on each year until they were doing the whole meal for the entire family four years ago.
“Man, those are just some of the best times,” Miller said. “Being with my dad, cooking until 2 in the morning, getting up at 8 for finishing touches. Having some adult beverages along the way.”
He dad passed away a year ago in November, creating a huge void, compounded by the coronavirus which prevented large family get-togethers.
“Cooking this (recipe) just reminded me of times cooking with my dad,” Miller said.
He said whether he bakes or cooks depends on his mood.
“I have a really big sweet tooth,” he said.
One of his recent dessert recipes was a lemon blueberry cheesecake with a lemon Oreo as the crust, whipped cream cheese and a dab of jam on top.
The mini-cheesecakes were for the staff at the Wood County Senior Center. Miller is manager of human resources for the Wood County Committee on Aging and often brings in sweets to share.
Comfort food is good, too And you can’t get any closer to comfort food that with this ooey gooey, creamy and cheesy mac and cheese.
The recipe’s name comes from shredded triple cheddar cheese. A can of cheddar cheese soup tops it off.
“Especially on a cold day, it’s nice to have something warm,” Miller said.
He served the dish with beer bread mini-muffins, which he said are so easy with just three ingredients and melted butter. Self-rising flour is a must.
The mac and cheese takes just two hours on low in the slow cooker. It is typically baked in the oven, so finding a recipe that can be made in a slow cooker was an immediate winner.
He said he never gets tired of the dish, living by the adage “you can never have too much cheese or too much peanut butter” (a story for another day).
Make the mac and cheese into a hearty meal by adding ham or smoked sausage.
“I think that’s the beauty of it,” Miller said. “Sometimes I will have just a bowl of macaroni and cheese and that’s my dinner because I put ham in it or smoked sausage in it.”
He learned very quickly the difference between evaporated milk – which is called for in this mac and cheese recipe – and condensed milk.
He accidentally bought condensed milk once, and even though he realized it, he still put it in.
“Let’s try it and see what happens,” he said to himself.
“I’ve never had a sweet macaroni and cheese, but that’s what I ended up with.”
This follows an incident where he grabbed cook-and-serve pudding instead of instant to make a dessert with his dad.
Miller said he would usually do all the grocery shopping and didn’t realize he had grabbed cook and serve. He said he kept stirring, but it wasn’t thickening up.
His dad got the box out of the trash.
“I learned that the hard way. There is a very big difference.”
Miller occasionally cooks from scratch, but the time commitment is a deciding factor.
“I love to cook and when you try new things, it’s gotta be easy.”
He said he is very often turned off by recipes that have 25 ingredients
“They may taste great, but I just don’t have the time to do that.”