Sunday, December 15, 2013

Macaroni & Cheese for One

Our son Will, like most kids who don't have dairy allergies and are able to eat full meals, LOVES macaroni and cheese. If I make him a plate of mac & cheese, he will quietly eat his lunch and oftentimes clean his plate. There are a couple of problems with this, however, when it comes to classic boxed macaroni & cheese:
  1. Will needs to gain weight. While the macaroni & cheese you get from a box does have more fat in it than the typical adult would prefer to have in their diet, our doctor had suggested we try to sneak more fat into our buddy's diet.
  2. No toddler can polish off a box of macaroni & cheese in one sitting, and it tastes terrible on the second day so leftovers are (kind of) out of the question. Which means that if I make Will M&C for lunch - it means that I also will be having macaroni and cheese. And typically this means that I end up having a little over half a box. Which I probably shouldn't be having. (2a - I LOVE MACARONI & CHEESE! Especially with some peas mixed in and a dash of black pepper... oh man...) Really... this is the bigger issue as there are a million ways to sneak more fat into Will's diet and I am very, very weak-willed when it comes to mac & cheese of any kind.
While I was pondering this issue, I remembered that I had once come across a recipe for "revolutionary macaroni & cheese". I had made it once for a friend of mine & I and it was delicious. I knew that I could adapt the recipe for one serving and fatten it up so that our little man was getting a fatter mac & cheese (in fact, in our house we call it fat-mac) AND I wouldn't have to be subject to a half of box (or more) of mac & cheese very time he had some (oh the horror...). A couple of tries, and I have perfected it! There are even a couple of veggies that I sneak in for total nutrition awesomeness for my toddler buddy.

Macaroni & Cheese for One 
Adapted from Revolutionary Mac & Cheese from Macaroni & Cheesecake

  • 1/2 cup pasta (penne, tri-color mac, rotini.... your choice)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp - 1/4 cup frozen spinach (or 1/3 chopped frozen broccoli)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  • In a small saucepan, put the pasta & milk and bring to boil. This will happen faster than you think - so don't walk away! As soon as it starts to boil, bring down to a simmer and make sure to stir constantly. 
  • About 5 minutes after bringing to a simmer, add the peas & spinach. Bring back to simmer & cook until noodles are tender (about 5-7 more minutes).
  • Remove pan from heat - DO NOT DRAIN!!! Add both cheeses and stir vigorously until cheese is melted in. The sauce will thicken upon standing. Add salt & pepper and serve. Or just eat it out of the pan, after all - this is only for one person.

A couple of things... first, this will easily feed two toddlers or one adult. I usually fill up Will's plate and then there's a few bites left to fulfill my macaroni weakness until I make it for him again. If I were to make this for myself - I would substitute in skim milk for the whole milk and it would work just as well and be just as delicious. Will loves this stuff; we've tried it with a couple of different cheeses but this seems to be the way he likes it the best. He'll eat either spinach or broccoli in it for us - whatever we have in the house - but the peas are a must. And in the long run it's cheaper than boxed mac & cheese... really, this is a winning situation all around! 

If you are in need of a quick comfort food fix or a good lunch for your kiddo... definitely give this a try. You won't regret it.

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