Cooking with Kids: Real Mac and Cheese

It was a cold and windy November day… While many people saw major snowfall today, we got blasts of bitter (and leafy) cold. Babyboy got it in his head that he wanted mac and cheese. Wonderful! Warm gooey comfort food.

But it had to be Wolfgang Puck mac and cheese, from the food court at the Museum of Science downtown, which is one of his favorite museums. But there was NO way we were going to a kids’ destination on a weekend afternoon, when it’s way too crowded, AND Hubby is out of town so I am solo with these two. That would just not be fun.

He perseverated. He begged and wailed. An hour passed and he was still following me howling “PLEASE MOMMY PLEASE CAN WE GO PLEASE PLEASE I REALLY WANT TO GO!”

We were pretty late for church when I finally convinced him that it would be more fun to make Wolfgang Puck mac and cheese ourselves, and then go to Nana’s.

Praying that there was a recipe somewhere online, I did a quick search. And apparently, this particular mac and cheese is a thing. Recipes abound. But the biggest find was an actual video of the famous Austrian chef himself demonstrating how to make his “most requested dish”. Babyboy and I watched, riveted. He wiped his face and cheered up considerably, and I took mental notes. We made a plan: after church, we’d head to the little local grocery, pick up the ingredients, and cook.

Cooking is what I do anyways to disconnect from clinical work. It’s a total soul cleanse. Cooking with my kids is pretty much my favorite family activity. So I was as excited as he was.

The grocery wasn’t that crowded, considering it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The kids were reasonably well-behaved, corralled in the cart: Babygirl in the front seat, Babyboy in the back, with food items stacked around and on top of him.

We made it home, and got cooking. Yes, we made a roux, and a successful Béchamel sauce. I did mess with the recipe a bit. There’s practically a whole stick of butter and three types of cheese in there already, so I figured, we can skip the three egg yolks.

The effort was worth it. The cheese sauce is basic, but very rich and creamy. Perfect for small children who would NOT do well with, say, gorgonzola or smoked mozz thrown in there. This is just plain good mac and cheese. I was skeptical of the secret ingredient: grated nutmeg. Really. But, it works, and the end result was pretty delish. Plus, we had enough left over after our lunch to bring to the late afternoon football game gathering and feed five more people.

Honestly, it was not a difficult recipe, and it’s so delicious, it’s well worth trying. Healthy? Hell, no. But it’s only got a few very straightforward ingredients, and you can definitely say it’s full of calcium and protein (and fat and carbs, but hey…)

Here is the recipe we (sort of) followed after watching the video. Enjoy!

I take the absolute worst food photos. Good thing this is not really a food blog. Trust me, this mac and cheese was really properly gooey inside, with a crunchy cheesy crust outside.


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