Mini Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Being a mom is amazing: Fulfilling and thrilling and sweet and tender. The best thing I’ve ever done. By Far.

But being a mom can also be brutal: Exhausting and exasperating and heartbreaking and painful. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. By Far.

Putting dinner on the table is just one of many challenging aspects of raising kids, which is why good resources are worth cherishing.

Case in point? A delightful cookbook and guidebook on feeding little ones.

Baby & Toddler on the Go Cookbook
It’s just the sort of book 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.

Baby & Toddler on the Go comes from Kim Laidlaw, a seasoned food writer, editor and mom who has real world tips and recipes so appealing, it made me want a “do-over” on the toddler years. Case in point are these little Mac and Cheese bites, a recipe perfectly suited to toddlers, but just as appealing for older kids (and grown ups, too). I added in broccoli for a boost of veggies in every bite. They’re also terrific for stowing in the freezer and popping into school lunches.

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
5 from 1 vote
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Mini Mac & Cheese with Broccoli

These tasty bites are perfect to pop into a container and take anywhere, and they are a great size for little hands. They're also nutritious, loaded with protein and calcium, thanks to the eggs, milk and cheese. Make them in mini muffin tins to have for supper or school lunch, or size them up and bake in a conventional muffin cups. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 30 mini mac & cheese bites or 10 regular-size muffin cups
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups tiny broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 30 cups of a mini muffin pan with cooking spray (or 10 to 12 cups of a regular muffin tin).

  2. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the pasta from the water and drain well. 

  3. Bring the water back to a boil and blanch the broccoli until just barely tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well. 

  4. 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 and cooked broccoli to the pasta, and mix well.

  5. Spoon the pasta mixture into about 30 of the mini muffin cups (or 10 to 12 regular muffin cups), filling them to the top.

  6. Bake until crisp and browned around the edges and bubbling, about 10 minutes for minis, a little longer for regular-size ones. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing (use a small knife to help dislodge them if necessary).

Recipe Notes

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 adapted and 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.

Comments

05.01.2013 at 3:41 AM #

Valerie

Spread Hummus mixed with a pureed veggie on whole grain bread and cut into bite sized pieces.

05.01.2013 at 3:42 AM #

Valerie

Hummus mixed with pureed veggie, spread on whole grain bread and cut into finger sized pieces.

05.01.2013 at 4:28 AM #

M.E. McClinton

I keep fresh fruit & veggies on hand & prepped to start meals & then add protein & whole grains as meal time progresses. With a one & two year old it is key for me to keep it simple! These Mac & cheese bites look like a great go-to item that I know my kids would eat!

05.01.2013 at 5:31 AM #

Teddi

Love the idea for this book. College students need healthy food on the go, too! Ripe peaches and yogurt are the BEST in the summer. My little sister just gobbles them up! How many cups of milk do you need in the Mac and Cheese recipe?

05.01.2013 at 5:31 AM #

katiemorford

Hi Teddi, The milk amount is 1/2 cup.

05.01.2013 at 6:45 AM #

Holly mccormick

Avocado/bananas, no need to prepare, can feed your baby/toddler right out of the peel

05.01.2013 at 6:45 AM #

katiemorford

Love that, Holly.

05.01.2013 at 8:07 AM #

Lisa

agree with the avocado just cut up and ready to eat. for slightly older ones, pearl couscous was and still is huge with our daughter.

05.01.2013 at 8:16 AM #

Heather Christo

my kids would flip for these little cups!! My kids always love freshly cut up veggies and apple slices with peanut butter?

05.01.2013 at 9:17 AM #

Cindy V.

Where do I begin? I think one of my favorite ideas is sliced bananas topped with wheat germ. They are the perfect texture for my seventeen month old. Also, a scrambled egg mixed with a little avocado and shredded cheddar cheese. Mini muffins of any kind are a big hit too!

05.01.2013 at 9:34 AM #

Kim Brady

I am a fan of scrambled eggs, veggies and grated cheese baked in a muffin tin- just like these Mac and cheese bites. Make ahead, nutritious and easily packed up… Adults love them too, just pop on an English muffin, instant breakfast sandwich.

05.01.2013 at 11:15 AM #

Miranda

My tip is to eat with little guys. They will want whatever is on your plate, which will open them up to new tastes.

05.01.2013 at 11:15 AM #

katiemorford

Great advice!

05.01.2013 at 11:44 AM #

Joan

Similar idea to the mac & cheese bites: create mini meatloaves by mixing lean ground beef, egg, breadcrumb, cheese, shredded vegetables like potato, carrot, spinach and shaping into balls. Bake in muffin tin and it creates mini protein-vegetable rich meals for toddlers. I got this great idea from Lisa Barnes’ The Petit Appetit Cookbook.

05.01.2013 at 12:44 PM #

LJUBLJANA

I love mini muffins! Never done them with Mac… Looks delish!

05.01.2013 at 9:55 PM #

Barbara

I always have cooked pasta in the fridge. Add homemade marinara sauce…perfect lunch.

05.02.2013 at 10:12 AM #

Christina

I always ate with my kids so they could see that I was eating healthy food too. And I would mash up as much as my food as I could so they would eat it. I also loved freeze dried fruit from Trader Joes – it was easy for the babies to eat, it gets mushy and dissolves in their mouths and there is no added sugar.

05.02.2013 at 11:13 AM #

Emily

My toddler loves to eat a frozen vegetable mix that contains diced carrots, corn and peas. It was a great way to add variety to finger foods when she was at that stage and only took a minute to make.

05.02.2013 at 7:56 PM #

Rachel @RedeemingHer

Taco lunch: beans, meat, cheese and rice

Easy for lil’ hands to eat!

05.03.2013 at 2:36 PM #

Amanda

My daughter is so easy to feed… At home… I’m always looking for easier ways to feed her.
Now that she is bigger (9mo) sitting in the carseat to eat and then out to finish a bottle is quite the hassle now. I’m always thinking of things to try for her now that summer is upon us and she is a mover and a shaker. We love hand held foods that are easily mash-able/ chew-able and portable too!! Banana slivers, and other fruits you can cut into holdable strips! I am so excited as she is able to eat more solids to try the things in that cookbook and I’m a big believer in the easier it is to transport the better. So anything that you bake in a mini muffin tin is key! We love to freeze baby food discs in the mini muffin tin for her to chew on… Good for teething and good for portable meals! I’ve packs and its super portable !

05.03.2013 at 5:26 PM #

Samantha F.

Mini quiche! :o)

05.04.2013 at 11:02 AM #

Amy

I could seriously use this with 5 kids.
We just do fruit, chips, sandwiches or burritos

05.04.2013 at 4:31 PM #

Carolsue

My toddler will eat just about anything. He particularly likes asparagus & bacon wrapped around chicken pieces!

05.06.2013 at 9:39 AM #

Bianca

I always have fruit on hand, but also cook pinweel pasta in addition to regular spaghetti noodles so that my little one has something easy to grab on to but can also eat what we’re eating.

05.07.2013 at 9:29 AM #

Mary S

My 2yr. toddler likes to be a big girl and take over mommy’s plate. Many things are chewed then spit out, but she is learning a lot about variety! She loves to chew on the chicken leg bone (stripped of the small hazards) and the T-bone when we have that cut of beef. Red kidney beans are a nice finger food (recognizing it’s better to use my home made crockpot beans over canned beans w/ all the sodium and BPA.) Scrambled eggs remain a favorite along with a crust-free bite of my toast. Feeding on the go healthfully is always a struggle. This cook book sounds like a perfect resource for this busy mom with a healthy concern for clean food. Thanks for this great recipe! My big boys will certainly enjoy it as well!

05.07.2013 at 10:11 AM #

annie cobb

I am a fan of making roasted apple sauce for my 7 month old. I just cut out the core and roast apples and then throw them in the cuisinart with a bit of cinnamon and cardamom. She eats this plain or with a little oatmeal or yogurt in the morning. Im also a fan of roasted sweet potato- so easy and takes no time. I mash it up and have dinner for her or throw it in the cuisinart with lentils and some fresh herbs.

05.07.2013 at 10:47 AM #

jennifer

for foods on the go for my 10 month old i never leave home without cheerios and fruit. i love avocados and bannanas and so does he. for my toddler i like to cut up different fruit and put it in different containers so she feels like she is having a picnic wherever we go. i sometimes freeze yogurt as she likes it frozen or cold depending on how long it has been out. cheese and crackers are also another easy travel food but she is also at a stage where she will eat whatever i do or least try it.

05.07.2013 at 12:09 PM #

Kim Wheeler

I make a big smoothie and freeze them in silicone freeze pops for my son! Fresh fruit, milk and greens!

05.07.2013 at 1:03 PM #

Jane McKay

On road trips in France with our little ones we’d travel with a baguette, a hunk of cheese, a bag of apples and a pocket knife. The girls loved chewing on the ends of the baguette, especially when they were teething.

05.07.2013 at 1:03 PM #

katiemorford

Better than a teething ring any day!

05.08.2013 at 9:44 AM #

Adrienne

We love yogurt, cut up bananas, hummus and pita chips. PBJ is also a winner any day.

05.08.2013 at 10:31 AM #

Lisa | With Style and Grace

another book I need to get my hands on!

05.08.2013 at 3:43 PM #

Kaeli hines

We add carrots and other veggies to apple muffins

05.08.2013 at 4:47 PM #

Darlene Owen

Whenever my grandchildren come for dinner, i fix food for everyone, but the main dish i fix for my grandchildren is homemade mac and cheese, they love it.

05.08.2013 at 4:54 PM #

alisa

smashed bananas in milk! 🙂

05.08.2013 at 6:55 PM #

Gianna

I make arrowroot biscuits.

03.19.2014 at 5:53 AM #

Tiffany

My fourth child is now a toddler. Toddlers are the most adventurous eaters! My advice is try everything now. My other kids got more picky as they got older and new foods generally are a hassle although i still offer them. Take advantage while they are little and willing.

03.19.2014 at 5:53 AM #

katiemorford

Good advice…try and keep trying!

10.16.2017 at 2:32 PM #

Jennifer

How much macaroni for this recipe? Thanks!

10.16.2017 at 2:32 PM #

katiemorford

Whoops…just added that back to the recipe. It’s 1 cup elbow macaroni. About 4 ounces.

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