But being a mom can also be brutal: Exhausting and exasperating and heartbreaking and painful. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. By Far.
So I’m thinking …just one day of Mother’s Day? It’s not enough. We need a whole month.
Which is why, starting today, I’m referring to May as Mother’s Month. To celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway every week for the entire month. That’s five, count them five giveaways, starting with this totally delightful cookbook and guidebook on feeding little ones.
It’s just the sort of resource I could have used when my own babies went from the “all liquid” diet onto solids. Breastfeeding struggles aside, there is something enviably uncomplicated about those first months when a baby’s sole nourishment is at the ready, at exactly the right temperature, no preparation required. Adding in cereals and purees, and then, gasp, “real” food, can be unnerving. With my first daughter, my worries over choking translated into food cut so tiny she could barely grasp anything with her chubby little fingers (I attribute her fine motor skills today to those early trials). Layer in the challenge of trying to get out the door with wholesome food in hand, and it can send a mom over the edge.
Baby & Toddler on the Go comes from Kim Laidlaw, a seasoned food writer, editor and mom to Poppy, one immensely charming toddler. She has real world tips and recipes so appealing, it made me want a “do-over” on the toddler years. Case in point are these Mini Mac and Cheese Bites, a recipe perfectly suited to toddlers, but just as appealing for older kids (and Mr. Mom’s Kitchen). My crew took down the whole batch in no time. They’re also terrific for stowing in the freezer and popping into school lunches.
These tasty bites are perfect to pop into a container and take anywhere, and they are a great size for little hands. They are also ideal vehicles for nutritious ingredients like chopped cooked chicken or vegetables. Just stir them into the mix before baking.
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 cup (4 ounces) uncooked whole- wheat elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk, warmed
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni, reduce heat to medium, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes or according to package directions. Drain the pasta. You should have about 2 cups.
- In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly, until smooth. Continuing to whisk, slowly add the cheeses until smooth. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat, add the egg to the pasta, and mix well.
- Spoon the pasta mixture into about 24 of the prepared muffin cups, filling the cups to the top.
- Bake until crisp and browned around the edges and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing (use a small knife to help dislodge them if necessary).
STORE IT Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or seal in a zippered plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
PACK IT Thaw 2 or 3 mac & cheese bites, if necessary, then pack in a small airtight container. If you are on the go for more than 1 hour, place in a small bag with a travel ice pack.
Recipe printed with permission from Baby & Toddler on the Go (copyright Weldon Owen and Kim Laidlaw). Mom’s Kitchen Handbook received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.