Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kiddie Food--Corndogs and Mac and Cheese

As previously mentioned, BabyBella hates eating vegetables.  This is not at all unusual in children her age.  I've read countless articles and books on how to deal with this from the "try one bite" to "hiding the veggies."  My problem with these two approaches is the first won't get enough vegetables into my kid and the second is, quite frankly, lying to her.  Thus, I have gone with a blended approach.  I often serve vegetables as a side dish, have her try at least one bite (she inevitably says she hates it) and fortify the meal with vegetables I've blended into other foods.  As BabyBella is my #1 kitchen helper (menu planner and sous chef) she's fully aware of what I'm doing.

Today BabyBella chose for dinner a school cafeteria favorite--corn dogs with macaroni and cheese.  Now, before you get all "that's not a healthy meal!" on me, know that it is not the traditional carnival treats.
Recipe and more after the break...
Corn Dogs (makes 4)

Ingredients:
  • 2 hot dogs (2oz each): I use the all beef/no filler kind. If you want to know why, read the label for "regular" hot dogs some time. Bleech.
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • 1 tbl melted butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 beaten egg (half? I'll explain in a bit)
Directions: 
 
First, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Wait...wait...wait...did you just say "oven?"  Aren't corn dogs supposed to be deep fried?  You betcha.  But it goes without saying that's really bad for you.  As a treat once in a blue moon?  Sure.  But when it comes to recipes that my kid just might ask for again, I try to stay away from the deep fryer.  That and it makes my house smell funky.  Back to the directions...  
Dice the hot dogs and divide evenly among 4 cupcake tins.  I use the silicone ones, with feet, just because they're cute. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl.  Beat egg, pour off half and save for later, then mix in the remaining wet ingredients.  Pour dry ingredients to egg/milk/butter mixture and mix until just combined (don't overmix).  Pour a spoonful or two of batter into each cup.
Using a butter knife, gently stir the cups to get batter between the hot dog pieces.  Then top with remaining batter. Could you just put the hot dogs right into the batter?  Sure.  But I've served this to little kids before and hearing "Hey! She got more hotdog than I did!" makes me want to tear my hair out. This method avoids any little kid arguments.  The cups are now filled:


Put them in the over and bake at 425 degree for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Mmmmm, yummy.

While the corn dogs were baking I made the macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese (serves 4, decent size servings or 5 "official" size servings)

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz of pasta (I use the Ronzoni Garden Delight--more veggies!)
  • 1 cup butternut squash
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 3 tbl flour
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 1.5 cups cheese (used a 4 cheese "Taco" blend of Jack, Cheddar, Quesadilla, and Asadero)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
Slice the squash and boil for 15 minutes in 1.5 cups of water.

Put it into the blender with 1/2 cup of milk and puree until smooth.


While the squash is boiling, cook the pasta per package directions and drain.  Then, over medium heat, add the butter, remaining milk, and flour.  Whisk constantly until the flour thickens. Then add the squash puree, cheese, broth, 1/2 beaten egg (see? it got used after all), mustard and salt.  Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat, add the drained pasta, and stir to coat.

Here it is all ready to be put on the table:

The corndogs cut open:

Mmmm, kid cuisine at its finest!

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