Things are slowly settling back to normal after summer. Besides my mom coming for a long visit and me and Alex going for a dream team vacation of the decade, we are back to a routine. I did share on Tuesday oh how much I have missed school. I love summer but I equally love the first few months of fall when it is still warm enough, kids are busy and I have time for myself. Even walking by myself, even as close as to and from school makes me more human. I clearly like my children at school. Come Christmas, I will be dreaming about summer again. But then I will just go to Mexico. Problem solved. Long live school!
Anyways. Dinners. Lunches. Let’s talk about those. Don’t you love them all, girls?! So…
The big news are that this school year I decided to simplify my life. First of all, I will be making large pots of filling soups like red lentil vegetable soup. That pot lasted us 2 days and roughly 3 meals. It is cheap, plant-based and extremely easy. Basically, the point is to have lots of leftovers. Like a never ending conveyor belt. Screw roasted cauliflower dipped in breadcrumbs. Screw baked zucchini fritters. Screw homemade chicken nuggets. They all take a ton of time to make, create a huge mess and disappear in 5 minutes with no leftovers between four of us. Making me depressed. And there is no pill to swallow for my diagnosis. Sigh. I might make those as a treat or when I get older. I love that food but I love myself even more.
Therefore, I decided to post recipes on the blog directly reflecting my new lifestyle. Just twice a week but food that is meaningful. You know what I mean?! No more Thai roasted chickpeas. When I first started blogging oh I tried so hard to make my life even more complicated lol. I can buy snacks. Less is more. So, twice a week a killer healthy food coma meal. That was my second point.
Third point is not to meal plan for a week ahead (I suck at that big time with a big letter L on my forehead) but rather have a rough idea of meals for 2 days ahead. And have a well stocked fridge with less variety but rather large amount of good for us food. OK, that I can handle. And part of this strategy the goal is to embrace the fact that satisfying delicious meals that kids will love are not always made from scratch. To embrace that kids will not always eat quinoa and kale. And they shouldn’t. Even I wouldn’t. Because it is real life. But rather make food with best available ingredients. Like as much organic as possible and without artificial colours and flavours. Without sacrificing flavour and yet with good for us foods (hello, vegetables). Without sacrificing after dinner family basketball game when sun is going down with a speed of lightning. You know what I mean?! If not, then read why I cut back on coffee.
So, yesterday I made this mac and cheese muffins recipe with vegetables using Horizon Organic Mac and Cheese from a box. Today I had to wake up at 4:50AM for Kyle’s hockey practice. Don’t ask why we do that but good news is that we won’t have early morning practices this season since he made an A program (yay!).
So, I had coffee. Yes! And you have no idea how happy these mac and cheese muffins made me at 7:30AM when I started packing lunches. This entire morning is a perfect example of a well balanced routine. At least to me that it what feels and looks like. And knowing that I still have 16 veggie packed meal worthy muffins in a fridge made me even happier for the rest of the day. And will stretch even into a Friday morning. And day. 24 mac and cheese muffins can make this mama happy well into the weekend.
And this is food I feel good about feeding my kids and I know I will hear like zero complaints at dinner time and school lunch will be eaten. My 10 year old has been stalking me for 2 weeks with this mac and cheese muffins recipe. I didn’t hear a word of complaint about eating broccoli, peas and edamame. I have heard 10 “wows” from a 5 year old. And because I ended up buying mac and cheese with protein, muffins ended up also quite protein packed.
This muffins recipe is very easy, literally 5 ingredients. You can modify it as much as you want. Shockingly I was having a hard time following even instructions on the box. I have my own technique and vision (the reason I barely ever cook someone else’s recipe). For vegetables I used fresh broccoli, frozen peas and edamame. That is what I had. You can use carrots, caulilflower, corn etc. Frozen veggie mixes are perfect for this recipe. And then as “a glue” I used Horizon Organic Mexican cheese blend. 20 minutes in the oven and voila. And the best part veggie mac and cheese muffins do not have to be reheated. That is a beauty of muffins vs. mac and cheese.
Aren’t these perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a school lunchbox?! I slipped them straight from the fridge into a lunch bag. And I swear kids will eat almost anything in a muffin form. Looking for more healthy variations of mac and cheese? Try my squash mac and cheese, roasted cauliflower mac and cheese, and one pot chili mac with beer.
Veggie Mac and Cheese Muffins
- In a medium pot, cook mac and cheese according to instructions on the box, undercooking pasta by 2 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with parchment liners and spray inside with cooking spray. Set aside.
- To a pot with cooked mac and cheese, add milk, vegetables and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well. Divide mixture evenly between 24 openings and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in a tin for 30 minutes to allow muffins to set. Serve warm, hot or cold.
Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely, and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a microwave or in the oven at 375 F for 10 minutes.
- *Extra ingredients required to make mac and cheese are 1/2 cup milk and 4 tbsp butter. Not included with the main muffins ingredients.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.