Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mac and Cheese Cups

Little hands are ready to eat
Just out of the oven
A perfect dinner and they pop out of the trays so easily        

I love this dinner and the best thing about it is that there are hidden edamame inside!  My kids love these mac and cheese cups too and I, like many other Moms out there, always struggle to get my little pumpkins to eat their veggies!  By putting a random number of edamame in each mac and cheese cup, I make a game out of eating the "green stuff".  Whoever gets the most edamame gets a prize.  The prize can be a book, game, or even a popsicle.  Regardless, it gets them exited to eat veggies.  That being said, this is the most creamy, gooey, mac and cheese you have ever eaten.  It is so good!  I've combined sharp, rich cheddar with nutty gruyère.  The crunchy, buttery bread crumbs and crisp grape tomatoes are a perfect topper.  I'm still working with Mason and Gabby to eat tomatoes but I'll have to take one step at a time :)  Please make this dinner for your kids and you'll have them excited about the edamame game too!  If you are serving adults as well, a simple mixed greens salad on the side is a great compliment.   I like to play the edamame game too but my prize is a glass of Pinot Noir.  The Rodney Strong 2011 Pinot paired perfectly!  Enjoy.   

La Recette:
*Two non-stick muffin trays
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
12 oz. gluten free pasta (regular pasta will work here too) - I like to use Penne
2.5 cups 2% or skim milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup rice flour (all purpose flour works too if you don't need to make it GF)
8 oz. gruyère, grated
8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup of frozen shelled edamame, rinsed and thawed
1 cup fresh gluten free bread crumbs

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray two muffins trays with canola oil spray.
-In a large pot of water add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.  Bring the water to a boil and cook the noodles al dente (firm but not hard).  Drain well.  
*Don't let the pasta sit drained for more than a minute or two.  Try to time it so that you drain it and put it into the cheese mixture.  If needed, add a splash if extra virgin olive oil so the noodles don't stick.  
-Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  While the butter is melting, heat 2.5 cups of milk in the microwave for 2:00-2:30 minutes.  I like to use a large glass pyrex measuring cup here- it minimizes clean up.  
-Set the milk aside and add about 2 tablespoons of the rice flour mixture to the melted butter.  Whisk well and continuously.  The mixture will become thick.  Slowly add in the milk, and continue to whisk.  Do not let the milk boil.  Slowly add in the rest of the rice flour and keep whisking.  The sauce will become smooth and thick.  Remove from heat.  *You are really making a bèchamel or white sauce.  This part should take 5-8 minutes.    
-Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.  Add and the grated cheese and mix well.  Finally, add the edamame and mix until incorporated.  The cheese mixture should become smooth.  Add in the drained pasta and mix until combined.
-Spoon the pasta into the muffin trays.  
-Put 1-2 slices of grape tomatoes on top
-Put a tablespoon of breadcrumbs on each cup.
*For the breadcrumbs - 
-Mix a cup of fresh breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of melted butter.  Add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 freshly ground pepper and mix well.  *Never buy breadcrumbs!  I take the ends of my bread loaves, 2-3 pieces, and put them into my food processor.  A perfect way to use up those ends!  
-Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly.
*Makes 18-20 cups.
*These freeze and reheat really well in the microwave or oven. 
*This recipe is very versatile.  You can also put the pasta in a 9x12 inch baking dish, leave out the tomatoes, etc...
 Bon appétit!

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