Hack Your Mac: Mac & Cheese Bites

IMG_7746.JPGAre you sick of making the same old boxed mac and cheese for your picky eaters (or even yourself?) Or do you love mac and cheese so much that you could eat the whole pan without ever realizing it until you catch yourself scraping the pan to get the last bite of cheesy noodle deliciousness? In the interest of trying something new, I decided to hack my mac.

I was faced with a pretty straightforward recipe: baked mac and cheese bites.

As usual, I cooked up a pan of boxed stove-top mac and cheese.  I also set my oven to 375 so it could warm up while my noodles cooked.  After draining the noodles and adding the packet of cheese with milk and butter, then stirring until everything was smooth and creamy, I dug out my mini cupcake pan.

I was quite curious as to the best way to make the mac and cheese bites, and which methodIMG_7743.JPG would be the most effective for stick-free removal. So I decided to try 3 different methods. For 8 of the mini cups, I simply sprayed the cups with olive oil. For the next 8, I used stick-free mini cupcake wrappers. And for the last 8, I used the stick-free cupcake wrappers, but doubting the “stick-free” part, I sprayed them with olive oil.

IMG_7744.JPGNext, I used a soup spoon and started scooping spoonfuls of mac and cheese into each of the mini cupcake holders. Planning for 24 bites, I was actually able to only fill 21.

Thinking they looked a little plain, I topped half of them with Italian-style breadcrumbs and left the other half alone. About this time my daughter walked in to see what was going on. She wrinkled her nose at the breadcrumbs, I rolled my eyes at her lack of adventure, then popped the mini cupcake tray into the oven.

Twenty minutes later, the bites were done. Those with the breadcrumbs had a nice golden crust to them and the bites without looked a little dry.  I left them on the counter to IMG_7748.JPGsolidify and cool off for 10 minutes.  By this time, both my kids were hovering and every 30 seconds or so asking, “Are they done yet?” I finally relented and we all picked a bite to try.

The bites easily slide out of the cups and wrappers. All 3 methods worked beautifully – no noodle was left behind. My 10-year old daughter and 12-year old son were huge fans of the mac and cheese bites without the breadcrumbs.  I consider myself having a more refined palate, so I enjoyed the bites with the breadcrumbs.

Overall, the mac and cheese bites were a little dry for my tastes. I’d rather dive into a big bowl of melty-cheesy gooeyness. However, eating small mac and cheese bites definitely kept me from over-eating the recommended portion size. In fact, after 3 mac and cheese bites, my craving was satisfied. Which was a good thing, because when I looked back to see what was left, I discovered every last bite was gone! My kids had devoured them and were asking if I could make more. Success!

Recipe available here.

Authored by: Rae Mosier