Our second recipe of the day is Mac and Cheese Muffins. The only thing that makes this recipe a muffin recipe is the presentation. That said, my kids will eat almost any food put in a muffin tin, so I figured we would try it. The only thing I did not like about the recipe was it had less opportunity for kid involvement because of the stove steps.
Even with that complaint, I gave Caleb the task of measuring shredded cheese. Ellie had the task of eating the spilled cheese and eventually wiping down the counter. Both kids stirred the mixture. Caleb and I spooned the mixture into the muffin cups. I just about forgot to add the bread crumbs, so we had to pour the mac back into the pan, re-line our muffin pan and try again, but it was all a good adventure.
Mac and Cheese Muffins
From Highlights High Five magazine, Jan. 2010
1/2 pound macaroni
1 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheese
1/3 c. bread crumbs (we use panko)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
Boil water in large pot. Add macaroni and cook until it is almost tender (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan over low heat. Sprinkle in 1 1/2 Tbsp. of flour. Stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add 1 1/2 c. milk. Whisk the sauce for 4-5 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat a spoon (see Notes/Changes).
Add 1 c. shredded cheese. Stir until sauce is smooth. Add some salt and pepper.
Add macaroni, bread crumbs, and more salt and pepper. Stir well.
Put mixture in 12 lined muffin cups. Bake for 8 minutes.
I needed to add a bit more flour to make the sauce thick. I probably added more like 2 Tbsp. instead of the 1 1/2. Caleb stirred the cheese into the sauce, and this was a surprisingly great task for him. He was very diligent about getting all of the cheese to melt into the roux (at least I think that's what you call a milk/butter/flour sauce).
I think this recipe has potential for adding vegetables in a stealthy way. I tend to feed my kids vegetables straight up, not hidden. However, I see value to sneaking in veggies when kids absolutely refuse them. One of my friends makes macaroni and cheese with butternut squash. I think she got the recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook. I can imagine pureeing other vegetables to make a seasonal mac, like pureeing peas or other green goodies and calling the finished product "monster mac" at Halloween.
I'm pretty sure most kids would like this variation on a classic. Ellie definitely enjoyed it, though it's hard to tell with her since she literally picks at food. Give it a try and let me know what you think!