Cooking with Kids: Baked Mac & Cheese
I think I mentioned this fifty times, but I am always looking for ways to get my kids into the kitchen for some cooking. So far both need some encouragement. My son is going through technology and video games stage, so I pretty much gave up on him, but temporarily. My 10 year old daughter is not always crazy about cooking, but will gladly come to help if something interests her. While regular meals are not that fun, I discovered that some kid-friendly recipes are pretty tempting. Raddish subscription box is one way to get recipes made for kids, but we also browse internet and come up with something on our own.
Today’s recipe is baked mac & cheese and it’s a combination of somebody’s online recipe and my own creation. Growing up in Europe, mac & cheese was not part of my childhood, but it is definitely something my kids love. Unfortunately, I always made organic mac & cheese for them, but from a package with cheese powder. I am not proud of that, but it’s an immigrant part of life. So today I decided to make this kids’ favorite meal the proper way.
My little helper got excited when I told her that we won’t be making anything sweet, but it’ll be mac & cheese done the right way. She immediately put her personalized apron from Personalization Mall on and was ready with wooden utensils from the same place. Cooking with one-of-the-kind tools is always more fun, even for me!
This recipe is very simple and doesn’t require a whole lot of unusual ingredients, except for three types of cheese and mustard powder. I am a simple cook and these items were not readily available in my kitchen, so I did a little bit of shopping a couple of days ago. Total time spent preparing this dish was about 30 minutes and then 15 minutes of baking. This time was perfect to keep my 10 year old engaged, because if it lasts longer, she loses her motivation and gets bored.
Let’s get right to it before we lose interest as well!
- 1.5 pounds of rotini or similar pasta
- 5 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
- 8 oz of sharp white cheddar cheese
- 8 oz of Monterey Jack cheese
- 8 oz of Swiss cheese
- ¼ cup of organic whole wheat flour
- 4 cups of organic milk, whole or 2%
- A pinch of Himalayan salt
- A pinch of ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
- ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
We started with boiling a pot of salted water for cooking our pasta. It had to be cooked al dente and took about 7 minutes.
It really doesn’t matter what pasta you use, but keep in mind that spaghetti or similar thin pasta will take less time to cook.
Once done, we drained pasta in a colander and put it back in the pot until it was needed again at the end.
While pasta is cooking, we turned the oven on to preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Another thing we had time for is grating all three cheeses. They can be grated in a bowl and mixed together.
After pasta and cheeses were ready, we took a small pot and melted butter. Then we slowly poured ¼ of flour while constantly mixing it.
After a couple of minutes we added all 4 cups of milk. Once all the ingredients were in, we cooked this sauce for about 10m minutes until milk started rising and sauce thicken. Make sure you don’t cook on high heat because you might not catch rising milk in time and burn it.
As soon as the sauce starts thicken just a little bit, we added mixed cheeses slowly and while stirring constantly. Then we turned the heat off and put salt, pepper, and mustard powder. Next we mixed everything together and poured it into the pot with pasta. Then we combined pasta and sauce thoroughly and poured the mass in a baking dish.
The final step is to combine panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil together in a small bowl. Then sprinkle the mixture over the dish with pasta. Put the baking dish in the oven and turn the timer for 15 minutes.
My oven is pretty powerful, so the top layer of bread crumbs started burning at 425 after a few minutes, so about half way through baking I reduced the temperature to 385 degrees.
The dish was done in 15 minutes and looked and smelled perfectly! We all had a tasty dinner, I brought some for my elderly neighbors across the fence, and there was still enough left for next day’s lunch. This dish might just become one of our favorites because of how simple it is to make and how good it tastes.
Serve hot and enjoy!