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Welcome To My Website!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Every Child's Favorite Mac 'n' Cheese

Fresh homemade mac 'n' cheese can and should be so much better than any boxed variety! Hook your kids (and yourselves) up on this simple pleasure that has a creamy delicious cheese sauce with soft but firm pasta. And guess what? It tastes like REAL cheese because it is! You can probably sneak in some secret "V". Let me whisper the dreaded word, (vegetables).
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the "V" word is out to the general public. I have it on good authority that children do not die from VEGETABLES.  Really, I do know that for a fact, as I've raised three of them and they are all still standing, functioning, thriving adults. I've even pushed them on unsuspecting nieces and a nephew, more than just a time or two. I'm not a Vegetable Ogre, mind you. I just don't understand what's so hard about getting kids to try them! They need to be involved in the choosing, preparing and eating. Of course having a home garden is a big help, they then see where it comes from and some of the "icky, eewe, and gross" mystique wears off since they can become familiar with them from the onset. My Sister-in Law Robin has a great home garden.

My usual adage in answering the inevitable question of how much they had to eat of said dreaded vegetable, was to ask a child how old they were, then upon their answer, say they said seven, then they needed seven bites. Seven peas, seven green beans, etc. I never really had to get nasty about it, cuz it was just the rule. Of course as the child got older, things generally relaxed and they knew they had to eat it, and at that point one bite was fine, and I truly didn't have to pay attention. Really.

However, on that note when my oldest daughter Candice turned 14 or 15, she announced at dinner one evening while the four of us were sitting at the dinner table, "I'm old enough to know what I do and do not like, I hate squash and I'm not eating it ever again!" 
Of course, this was delivered with as much aplomb as telling me that the Pope was arriving any minute and she was leaving to join a convent.

We are Lutheran-Missouri Synod.

Then of course my youngest daughter Chelsea, (not to be outdone by her sister), at about the same age one night declared, "I really, really, really hate that stupid, gross green bean casserole with the cheese on top. I'm not going to eat it again, ever!" 
Now this child is the one who would scowl, squint her eyes and actually get so close to me that our noses touched-while she had her arms crossed doing the eye thing I just described. So when her declaration had been so sweetly (NOT!) shared with her family my natural instinct was to start laughing. But I didn't. I looked up at her scowl-y, squint eyed face and said, (with much more enthusiasm than I wanted to!), "Great! That means more for us! Is that Okay with you Candice? Chrissy? Fantastic! More hot sour cream coated green beans, placed in a buttery casserole, with Swiss cheese loaded all over the top, broiled to an oozy, bubbly, golden toasted cheesy-yum-cious-ness!" I sat there smiling at her, she sat there with great big eyes with a frowning forehead staring at me. The look on her face to me said, "Crap! What just happened? I was sure I was going to control that one!" but for me, I thought to myself, "Wow! I won that one! Look at the look on her face! I won, I think?.....
To this day Candice does not eat squash, Chelsea does not eat green bean casserole, Christopher continues to devour everything, and I still feel great about defeating both of those confrontations!
36, and still eats us out of house and home!

24, still looks soooo innocent!
32, and the Mama of my Lammie-Lela, who only has to
take one "tasting bite" of anything. And it works beautifully.

So how about that recipe? Sorry, but it's easy to get sidetracked with my fabulous and growing family!

Every Child's Favorite Mac 'n' Cheese                  4 regular or 8 mini servings

1/2 lb. (about 1/2 pkg) GF pasta, elbows, wagon wheels, spirals etc...
1/2 tsp salt, for adding flavor to the pasta water
4 Tablespoons cream, whole milk, or any choice of other type of milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated and divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup GF breadcrumbs, crumbled very fine
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

**1/2 cup vegetables of their choice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika, for dusting the tops of the mac 'n' cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. 
Generously spray muffin tin cups-either regular or mini size.

1. In a large saucepan add 6 cups cold water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a full boil. Add the pasta and stir occasionally. Cook the pasta only about 4-5 minutes as it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain well and reserve 2-3 Tablespoons of the hot pasta water-this make a great thickener.
2. In a small separate bowl reserve 1/2 cup grated cheese for sprinkling on the tops of each cup.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, 1-1 1/2 cups grated cheese, cream or milk, butter, and only enough of the reserved pasta water to make the sauce smooth, mixing all thoroughly. Add the the cooked pasta, stirring well, and then the breadcrumbs and fluff with a fork. **If you are adding vegetables do it now in step three.
4. Fill each cup with the filling, sprinkle the reserved cheese over each one, then sprinkle a small amount of paprika over each one.
5. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly golden brown.

Regular muffin cup size.

Regular muffin size in a bundt-muffin tin, displayed on a sweet saucer
that Chelsea painted for me when she was about 10, it even has a matching cup.
Thanks Chels!