I’m always thinking of ways to get my husband and daughter to eat more vegetables. I don’t like hiding them, but desperate times call for desperate measures (especially for my toddler). Macaroni and cheese is a staple in my family, and has had many variations (some I will share another time). Carrots also happened to be the first solid food (more like puree) we gave Isabella more than a year ago.
I was so excited! I remember being very meticulous about making sure the carrot puree was very smooth AND tasted good (just because she’s a baby doesn’t mean her food can’t taste good). We sat her in the space saver chair (a high chair for those of us who live in a cubby hole) on the floor because we forgot to actually place it on a chair at the time (the excitement was getting to us). Instead of a cloth bib, I put a disposable bib on her (to this day I still don’t know why) and we got down to business. Danny grabbed our nice camera to record and I began feeding her.
Her reaction was priceless. My daughter’s big brown eyes (that practically took up most of her face at the time) had the most confused expression.
“What are you guys laughing at?”
After a few tries figuring out the texture of the spoon, she started to eat more, and I finally relaxed because she was eating veggies!
That is, until she stopped and wanted to eat her BIB instead. But hey, at least she ate a good amount. 🙂 The bib just happened to be dessert to her…
Needless to say, since that day carrots hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, for the past few months my daughter doesn’t want to eat carrots. She loves cheese (especially cheddar), and since they’re the same color, she won’t know the difference when placed together. Plus, I think adding the honey really helps boost the natural sweetness of the carrots (ever heard of honey glazed carrots?).
If my husband, who rarely eats carrots, and my toddler, that’s boycotting vegetables recently, like this dish… then you have no excuses. Well, unless you’re allergic.
- 3 cups of steamed carrots (very fork tender)
- 2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth or whole milk
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of butter (cut in half)
- 1lb of shell pasta, macaroni or mini penne (I highly recommend mini wheels for toddlers)
- 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil (this is for the pasta). I would cover it so it comes to a boil faster.
- Follow the package directions for steaming your carrots but add an extra 2-3 minutes to make sure they are very fork tender. The softer they are, the easier it will be to puree. Transfer the carrots to a blender (or large food processor) and add milk or broth. Puree until very smooth. Next add the honey and puree one more time. Taste the mixture and add salt to taste. Set aside.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook 1 minute under what the box suggests. This is to make sure the pasta doesn't come out mushy when you mix it with the carrot and cheese mixture.
- When the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of water. Drain and return it to the pot. Add butter and toss it around the pasta until it's completely melted. Add the carrot mixture and stir. Slowly start adding the shredded cheese to the pasta. I would wait till it melts before you continue to add the rest of the cheese. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to reduce the thickness.
- On a small pan add 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat the pan on medium low and add the panko breadcrumbs. Move the breadcrumbs around the pan with a spoon until all of is coated in olive oil. Keep stirring until the breadcrumbs slowly brown. Keep an eye on this because you don't want the breadcrumbs to burn! Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- When they turn a light brown, set it aside and when you serve the mac and cheese, sprinkle a little on top.
To make my life easier, I like to portion the mac and cheese individually using a muffin tin. Then, I place the muffin tin in the freezer and flash freeze it. Once it’s solid, I pop each one out and place them all in a large ziplock bag. When I’m giving Isabella lunch or dinner, I take out one of the individual portions (peeling off the aluminum if you’re using a cupcake liner) and microwave it for a few seconds. She has her food ready in just a few minutes and mommy doesn’t have to pull her hair out.