KIKn it week one: You mean macaroni and cheese doesn’t come from a box??!

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Let me preface this by saying, I am no Julia Childs.  I am a down home, traditional meat and potatoes type of gal.  I know how to cook… I just haven’t ever been one of those people who finds nirvana over steaming victuals.

In fact, true story:  our first Thanksgiving together, I woke up that morning, got the turkey out of the freezer (yep… I heard that collective gasp!), then called my mom to ask how to cook a turkey.  She wasn’t there (uh oh!)  So I dialed up my mother in law and asked her.  She gave me some great tips (that I still use to this day! thanks, Gramma Sue!!).  I may or may not have broken a few health code violations in trying to get the bird thawed first (really??  who knew you had to actually prepare some parts of the meal ahead of time??!), and then cooked.

Turns out, it was one of the best turkeys we had ever had.  (Yup, those tips really did pay off!  Good thing because we were hosting quite the crowd for dinner!).  I started to realize that cooking good food didn’t have to mean using ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce.

Fast forward many years, many trials and errors (let’s just say, our kids have become brutally honest when my ‘experiments’ aren’t quite up to eating standards!), and I have kind of gotten a little routine down of quick, yet somewhat healthy meals to prepare the family.  I patted myself on the back that we only broke out the mac n cheese a few times a year (so the kids viewed it as a ‘super special treat’ to have it for a meal!).

Enter week one of our KIK program.

I sat down the kids, dusted off the menu planner, and told them they could each pick whatever dish they wanted to do for their designated day.

7 yo son immediately chimed up “Mac n Cheese!!”

“awesome! pop open a few boxes, that is easy enough” was my first thought.  Before it even came out… my Bon-Appetite-loving hubby chimed in from the peanut gallery… “so… are you going to teach him how to do the REAL version??”

And suddenly it hit me.  I had spent years studying the fine art of nutrition.  I had worked in a campus cafeteria, and then managed that cafeteria.  I had taken food chemistry classes.  My entire college education centered around food.  My entire dietetic career has been spent teaching people to eat close to the farm… to try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.  And here I was about to teach my child that to cook a dinner, you first need to open a box of processed food.

Of course, I couldn’t admit this to my eyebrows raised hubby, so I nonchalantly glanced over and said,

“yes, of course I am.”

And just like that, my whole outlook on this program changed.  I realized that I could do so much more for my kids than merely teach them how to get food-like-substances into their bodies.  I could really teach them how to COOK (and probably learn some things myself along the way!), and truly NOURISH their bodies.

So began our night number one:

lesson 1:  butter can burn.

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Moving on:

Real lesson number 1:  how to make a roux (and in full disclosure, I just had to look up how to spell that!)

(I remember when I had baby #3, a dear friend brought dinner that contained the yummiest soup ever.  I called her for the recipe, and she started off with “oh, it’s so easy!”  major red flag when said friend is a gourmet cook, I later learned!  “you just start with a roux… ” she went on to explain this “super easy” recipe, but truth be told, she lost me at roux.  I had never made one before and thought that if I couldn’t even define the word, then making it would be even harder!).

Turns out, it really IS quite easy!

You simply melt some butter (careful not to let it cook too long… see picture above, ahem…), whisk in some flour, then add milk (while whisking like crazy!).  Suddenly you have yourself a super yummy-looking roux!

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Next, you stir in some cheese

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Pour it over some noodles (that you have already boiled!)

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Cover with some bread crumbs:

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And bake in ‘that hot thing over there!’ (as quoted from 5 yo… hmmm, maybe we’ll need to incorporate some kitchen vocabulary into her KIKn night!)

Then you sit and watch the magic happen as all of the ooey, gooey goodness melts together.

All in all, this recipe was a double thumbs up from all the kiddos… who were just as surprised as I was that mac n cheese could come from a place other than the little blue box :).

Here’s the recipe (from Alana Spillman – a girl I have never met. She is found in the family recipe book given by my dear friend… which book also contains the recipes for frogs legs, mutton, and head cheese.  First of all, I am suddenly rethinking your family lineage, Sue 😉  and second of all… I don’t think those recipes will be making their way into the kitchen any time soon!  But this one was a keeper!)

1 (12 oz) box macaroni noodles (cooked and drained)

6 tbsp. butter

6 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cup whole milk (we used skim milk)

1 1/2 cup cream (we used fat free half and half)

3/4 tsp salt

pepper to taste

3 cups shredded cheese (we used part milk and part sharp cheddar)

3/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bottom of 9×13 pan.  Melt butter in sauce pan, then whisk in flour (mixed with salt and pepper).  Slowly pour in milk and half and half while whisking.  Bring to boil while stirring constantly and boil 2 min.  Reduce heat and simmer additional 10 min (declaimer – we were short on time, so didn’t wait the whole 10 min).  Stir in cheese until melted and simmer another 5 min (again short on time, so just stirred until melted).  Pour in noodles and stir until coated.   Pour into pan, top with bread crumbs, and bake for about 20 min (until top is golden).

Serve and “make sure to tell everyone that I made it, okay mom?”

Long live KIK!!!

Join me in the journey… what’s cooken in your kitchen??

 

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