While I’m not generally a fan of “kid foods”, there’s no denying the fact that there are certain foods that most kids like. Pizza, chicken nuggets and tenders, cheese sticks and applesauce often get two thumbs up from the kid-crowd, but children also tend to favor finger foods or those that don’t require utensils. Which, who can blame them – I mean, who has time, right?! Today’s recipe is a hand-held version of a tried and true favorite: mac and cheese bites.
I’m not going to go into a big schpeal about why you should make these. I mean, we all love mac and cheese, but hello, these are portable. Think snacks in the car after school as you head to lacrosse/swimming/dance/you fill-in-the-blanks. Or how about a great grab-and-go for lunches. For kids of all ages, wink-wink. Yeah, these mac and cheese bites are pretty awesome if I do say so myself. But don’t just take it from me – make a batch of these and get some all-star ratings from your fam. You can thank me later on;). Oh, and before I get to the recipe – for my gluten-free friends out there, I did make some of them gluten-free and it works just fine. The key is to not overcook your pasta, whether it’s GF or whole wheat. No one likes mushy mac, right?
- 2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
- ⅓ cup whole wheat dry bread crumbs
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin with nonstick spray (see my notes).
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add macaroni and cook for 7-8 minutes. Pasta should still be a bit firm. While this is boiling, mix together the bread crumbs, olive oil and ½ tsp. salt in a small bowl.
- Once macaroni is done cooking, drain and return to pot, removing it from the heat. Stir in butter to coat. The stir in beaten egg. Ensure pasta is evenly coated. Stir in 1½ cups of cheddar, the milk, garlic powder, mustard and all of the mozzarella cheese and mix to combine. Spoon into 12 prepared muffin tins and top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and the bread crumb/spice and ¼ tsp salt mixture.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Cool for 20-30 minutes before removing.
Notes: This is my favorite spray. It includes no additives or propellants, just 100% avocado oil. And it has a heat point of 450 degrees, so it can be used in higher temperatures, too. Oh, and this is my favorite muffin tin. It’s SO worth switching to stainless!!
Look how nicely this fits into one of my favorite lunchboxes. You can tell how easy this was to throw together. Sayonara stressful lunch-packing nights and mornings! You go, girl.
So tell me – what do you prefer better: regular ol’ mac, or super fun mac and cheese bites??