Homemade Mac and Cheese for Toddlers and Babies

mac-and-cheese
As a mom, there are tons of things that I feel guilty about from time to time. Most of these guilts are just little, insignificant things that probably won’t matter at all in the long run. One of my biggest “little” guilts is the fact that my kids love macaroni and cheese; the bright yellow overly processed stuff that only takes 3 1/2 minutes and provides a quick lunch and lots of smiles. I’m not sure why it bothers me so much that they love it. It may be that I’ve seen the warning labels on the boxes of Mac n’ Cheese that are sold in the UK or maybe it’s something about the unnatural color, but I do understand that in the grand scheme of things, it’s really minor. At any rate, since it does bother me, I have adopted my own Macaroni and Cheese recipe over time, so I thought I’d share. Both of my boys (ages 1 and 3) gobble it up! πŸ™‚

Ingredients

2 Tbs Butter

2 Tbs All Purpose Flour

1 1/4 cup 2% milk

6 oz cheese (43 cubes), I like to use Colby Jack

4 oz small shell pasta

1/4 cup peas

1 oz ham

Directions

1. Boil water and prepare pasta according to the directions on the package. I typically use shells because I find it’s easier for my 1 year old to pick it up and eat it without help, but any kind will work.

2. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour until the mixture is creamy. Slowly add the milk to the mixture. The key to this (and any gravy you might ever make) is to keep stirring. Otherwise, you will develop more of a bread on the bottom than a creamy gravy/sauce.

3. Once the sauce starts to thicken and is creamy, start adding cheese. How much you add is really a matter of preference; I just keep adding it until the sauce tastes right. I find that it’s somewhere around 6 oz. (This ends up being about 43 cubes if you don’t have a scale.) Add the cheese only a little at a time (4-5 cubes) and stir the sauce until the cheese is completely melted. Then add more until all of the cheese is mixed in.

4. After the cheese sauce is completely melted and smooth, add it to the cooked and drained pasta.

5. At this point, you can add anything you want. I usually add peas and ham since my boys enjoy it. If the macaroni (really shells) and cheese is too thick after you’ve mixed everything together, you can also add milk to thin it down.

Note: I have also enjoyed this Mac and Cheese with the boys, but let me warn you that it does need salt for my taste. I just always leave it out when I make it for them and they don’t seem to mind. πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoy!

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