Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kid's Choice: Macaroni and Cheese

I considered suspending Kid's Choice this week, since five days at Disney is the ultimate kid's choice. I really wanted to serve a heaping bowl of vegetables to counteract all the sweets and chicken nuggets, but didn't feel like enduring the whining that would surely ensue. My eldest son requested Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. I decided I could work with that.

I have a basic recipe for Mac and cheese, but last night I wanted to spice it up a bit so I made a few changes. First I made a bread crumb topping:

2 T. butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C. panko
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds then add panko and mix until coated with butter. Cook until bread crumbs are golden. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the Macaroni:

2 C. uncooked Macaroni ( I use Barilla Plus for a little extra protein)
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. ground mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper (this was a new addition last night)
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 C. milk
2 C. shredded Cheddar Cheese
small precooked ham steak, chopped
cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350° Cook Macaroni as directed on package. As Macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a 3 quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire Sauce. Cook over meduim low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in milk, heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Stir in cheese, cook and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and ham. Top with bread crumb mixture. Place quartered cherry tomatoes atop bread crumbs. Sprinkle tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

The tomatoes and breadcrumbs added some sophistication to this kid friendly staple. The cayenne was also a nice addition, subtle but nice. My youngest complained about the tomatoes and left them in the bottom of his bowl, but he ate everything else!

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