My Kids Ate It: Chili-Cheese Mac, Veggies and Ranch Dip

by Wendy Copley on March 26, 2012

I don’t know about you, but dinner time can be extremely frustrating for me. Sometimes it seems like no matter what I cook, one or both of my kids complains bitterly about their meal. We have firm rules about the use of the word “yuck” at our dinner table (hint: not allowed), so my kids have learned to turn “I don’t care for this,” and “This is not my favorite food,” into a searing insult merely through the tone of their voices.

Can anyone relate?

Here’s the deal though: they’re actually pretty good eaters. I like a lot of variety in my dinners and my husband does too, so we try new recipes frequently often interspersing them with old favorites. Getting the kids to try — and then consume — these new dishes can be challenging but they will do it now and then. I’ve decided to begin an occasional series where I share the successful meals with you all. I call it: My Kids Ate It!

Chili Cheese Mac

The first two recipes I’d like to share are from the current issue (April 2012) of Cooking Light magazine. I’m a long-time subscriber to Cooking Light and I always find several recipes to try in the magazine but this particular issue was a knock-out. After I’d finished reading it, Zach sat down to flip through it and he started laughing because about a third of the pages were dog-eared with recipes I wanted to try. Go get it, right now!

I started out by cooking this recipe for Chili-Cheese Mac. I just about always make a few changes to recipes when I cook and this one was no exception. In this case I made the recipe with a full pound of hamburger rather than the 3/4 pound the recipe called for because I had a one pound package of hamburger and I don’t believe in freezing 1/4 pound of hamburger. It would just get lost in my freezer and then I’d throw it out some time next year, so I decided to cook the extra meat rather than wasting it. I also subbed high fiber penne for the elbow macaroni because that’s what I had in the cupboard. Otherwise I left the recipe as is.

It took longer to cook than the 20 minutes the recipe indicated, but not much longer. I’m guessing maybe 30 minutes start to finish?

I thought it was pretty good, but maybe a tad on the gummy side. Next time I’d add a little more liquid to loosen up the sauce. It wasn’t as spicy as I’d like, but the heat was just right for the kids so I wouldn’t do anything to change that. My husband doused it with Tapatio hot sauce, but I left it as is. It took a bit of convincing to get Wyatt to try it but once he did he really loved it. Score! Augie was sick and didn’t want any dinner but he ate some at lunch the next day. That’s four thumbs up so I’ll make this again for sure!

I served it with raw carrots and sugar snap peas and another new dish: Creamy Ranch Dip. I decided to make this with the pasta dish because both recipes use a half a block of cream cheese and I knew if I used it all at once I wouldn’t have to deal with finding a use for any leftovers. I followed this recipe exactly, but when I finished I thought the consistency was too thick so I added a few more tablespoons of buttermilk. Much better! Everyone loooooved this and there were enough leftovers for lunches so this will be something I’ll make frequently. Too bad one of Wyatt’s school-mates referred to it as “bird poop dip“!

What have you made recently that your picky eaters liked? Link up your recipes in the comments so we all can be inspired!

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