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Writer’s Kitchen: Baby Edition

Mac 'n' Cheese

Mac 'n' Cheese

Things look much different in the Writer’s Kitchen since my last post–and in the most wonderful way. I may not have been whipping up homemade marshmallows lately (that will happen again when the little guy is old enough to enjoy those sugary treats), but I have been discovering the exciting world of cooking for babies.

Before I go on, let me assure you that I’m not one of those supermoms who manages to do it all–including cooking every meal for her baby while keeping the house spotless, working her dream job, going out for lunch dates every day and keeping her toes perfectly pedicured. I am, however, managing to feed my baby good, whole food while maintain my writing career. The trick, at least for me, has been identifying how I want to feed my baby (i.e. mostly organic, with safe packaging, and with varied flavors so that he’ll develop a mature palate), and then preparing homemade food when possible and supplementing it with high-quality prepared baby foods in BPA-free pouches (our go-to brands are Happy Baby, Ella’s Kitchen, Sprout, and Plum Organics).

Last week my husband and I took the baby to one of our favorite brewpubs and ordered him his first meal off a kids’ menu: Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Having mostly been fed a healthful diet of milk, fruits, vegetables, and nutritious puffs and cheese cubes for finger food, this new creamy creation was a delight to my son. I cut the fusilli into tiny, bite-size pieces, but even when an entire noodle got past me, the boy was just fine. The dish was such a hit, in fact, that I whipped up a batch of Baby Mac ‘n’ Cheese last night so he could have a more healthful version at home this week.

Our modified recipe went something like this: Cook half a bag of organic pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat whole milk over low heat. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the milk, along with shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven (probably only necessary if you wish to add some Parmesan on top), and allow to cool to an appropriate temperature before serving.

This version is more subtle and less rich than restaurant mac ‘n’ cheese or the kind that comes in a box–probably because it’s a simple mix of pasta, cheese, and milk with no butter, cream, or strange ingredients. But it’s also healthier and lets him practice eating slippery pasta as finger food without making a gooey mess. We’ll graduate to more advanced versions as time goes on (I’m thrilled to have an excuse to find the perfect mac ‘n’ cheese recipe–if you have any pointers, let me know!). But in the meantime, I am proud to know that there are a few servings of pasta, made with a mama’s love, in the fridge for my son.

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