Kid-friendly Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups + Very Berry Smoothies Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups + Very Berry Smoothies

Family Meal Plan: Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups + Very Berry Smoothies

Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups + Very Berry Smoothies

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Ezume Images/Shutterstock.com
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
40 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups

Did you know we have our third American President to thank for our love of macaroni and cheese? It's true. All of our Sticky Fingers Cooking students will stick a feather in our chef caps and call Thomas Jefferson "macaroni." (In the late 1700s, the word "macaroni" meant "cool.") What is more comforting than a bowl of mac and cheese? It's like a big hug for your belly! 

I am probably one of the few Americans who didn't eat it growing up or even like it much because it came from THE box. I discovered real homemade mac and cheese when I was in my twenties. It was a revelation. My girls, of course, cannot eat enough of it, and we ALWAYS add sweet peas to our mac and cheese. Yes, peas! Peas are low in calories, contain the most fiber of any other vegetable, and are high in antioxidants and nutrients. It's even considered a superfood because just one serving of freshly frozen garden peas contains as much vitamin C as two large apples, more fiber than a slice of wholegrain bread, and more thiamine than a pint of milk. Wow! I've justified why families should all prepare and eat MORE mac and cheese together. Plus, baked mac and cheese cupcakes make it much more fun!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief
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Shopping List

  • FRESH AND FROZEN
  • 1 fresh orange
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 C frozen green peas
  • 1 C frozen berries (choose your favorite or a combination)
  • DAIRY AND EGGS
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, for 2 C grated **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 T butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 3/4 C plain yogurt **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 1/4 C milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 large eggs **(see allergy subs below)**
  • PANTRY
  • 2 C dried elbow macaroni, or similar tube-shaped pasta **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 T all-purpose flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • honey/sugar/agave syrup/stevia, to taste
  • HAVE ON HAND
  • 4 C water
  • 2 C ice
  • Nut-free oil or cooking spray to grease cupcake wells

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • fold :

    to gently and slowly mix a light ingredient into a heavier ingredient so as not to lose air and to keep the mixture tender, such as incorporating whipped egg whites into a cake batter or folding blueberries into pancake batter; folding is a gentler action than mixing or whisking.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • peel :

    to remove the skin or rind from something using your hands or a metal tool.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Large pot
  • Strainer or colander
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Grater
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
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Ingredients

Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups

  • 2 C dried elbow macaroni, or similar tube-shaped pasta **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free macaroni)**
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C frozen green peas, thawed
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, for 2 C grated **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese shreds, like Daiya brand)**
  • 2 T butter, softened **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand)**
  • 3/4 C plain yogurt **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt)**
  • 1/4 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 2 large eggs **(Omit for EGG ALLERGY)**
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 T all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • Nut-free oil or cooking spray to grease cupcake wells

Very Berry Smoothies

  • 1 C frozen berries (choose your favorite or a combination)
  • 1 fresh orange
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1 C plain yogurt **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt)**
  • 2 C ice
  • honey/sugar/agave syrup/stevia, to taste

Food Allergen Substitutions

Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free macaroni for dried elbow macaroni. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free flour for all-purpose flour.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free cheese shreds, like Daiya brand. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand. Omit yogurt or substitute dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk.
  • Egg: Omit eggs.

Very Berry Smoothies

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk. Omit yogurt or substitute dairy-free/nut-free yogurt.

Instructions

Sweet Pea Mac ‘n Cheese Cups

1.
boil + cook + preheat

Bring a large pot of at least 4 cups of water to a boil and cook 2 cups of dried elbow macaroni according to package directions (about 8 to 10 minutes). Drain and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

2.
grate + crack

Have your kids grate 8 ounces of cheddar cheese, adding 2 cups of the grated cheese to a large mixing bowl. Crack 2 eggs into the same bowl with the cheese.

3.
measure + whisk

Have your kids measure and whisk together 3/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon mustard powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 to 2 tablespoons flour into the bowl with the egg and cheese until well blended.

4.
fold + mix

Gently fold your cooked macaroni and 1 cup thawed frozen peas into the cheese mixture until well mixed.

5.
fill + bake

Spoon mac 'n cheese into the wells on a greased muffin pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cupcakes are firm to the touch. Cool slightly and then enjoy!

Very Berry Smoothies

1.
chop + peel

Peel and chop 2 bananas and peel 1 orange, adding them to your blender (or pitcher for use with an immersion blender).

2.
add + blend

Add 1 cup frozen berries, 2 cups milk, 1 cup yogurt, 2 cups ice, and honey or other sweetener to taste. Blend until smooth!

Surprise Ingredient: Peas!

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Photo by R Khalil

Hi! I’m Peas!

"Hi, there! Let's see if you can guess what we are. We grow in shells; you might see us frozen in winter, fresh in spring, and canned all year round; and sometimes we're “split” and cooked in soup! You guessed it! We're Peas! We're good in salads, soups, casseroles, mixed with corn and other vegetables, and all by ourselves! We can be tricky to eat, but if we slide off your fork, you can spear us or use your knife to push us back on. Or, you might even try eating us with chopsticks!"

HIstory

  • Peas in the wild are found in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Archaeological evidence dates peas in Iraq and Turkey to 7,500 BCE. Domesticated peas were developed from wild peas starting in the late Neolithic Era (around 5,000 BCE). Peas are one of the oldest crops to be cultivated.
  • The oldest pea ever found was 3,000 years old and was discovered on the border of Burma and Thailand. 
  • During the Middle Ages, peas were a large part of people's diets in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. 
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, peas started being picked when they were green and immature. In England, new cultivars or varieties of peas were developed that they called "garden" or "English" peas. 
  • Thomas Jefferson grew more than 30 pea cultivars at his Monticello estate in Virginia. 
  • Clarence Birdseye, known by many as the founder of the modern frozen food industry, was the first individual to freeze peas. 
  • The world record for the most peas eaten in an hour is 7,175 peas, held by Janet Harris of Sussex, England, in 1984. She ate one pea at a time with chopsticks!! 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Peas are members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, commonly known as legumes, including peanuts, chickpeas, licorice, alfalfa, beans, carob, and soybeans. 
  • Peas are edible, usually green, round seeds that grow in a pod. The pea pods are technically a fruit because they have seeds and grow from a flower, but peas are eaten as a vegetable. 
  • Pea plants are annual plants, living for about one year. At the end of their life cycle, they can be cut back to the root, which decomposes, releasing nitrogen into the soil for the next crop of plants.
  • The singular term "pea" was back-formed in the mid 17th century by removing the "se" from the word "pease," which was mistakenly construed as a plural form. "Pease" came from the Old English "pise," from the Latin "pisum," from the Greek "pison."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • You can pick garden peas about three weeks after flowering. The pods of shelling peas or garden peas are inedible and will swell with the growth of the peas, becoming cylindrical before harvesting. 
  • Snow peas and sugar snap peas are edible pods ready to harvest about a week after flowering. The pods can be picked when they're about two to three inches long before they begin to swell and just as the seeds or peas begin to develop. 
  • For the best taste, you'll want to eat the peas as soon after harvesting as possible. Fresh peas will last in your refrigerator for up to one week. The more peas you pick, the more the plant will produce.
  • Frozen peas are almost as tasty as fresh ones because the growers freeze them within two and a half hours of being picked. Plus, they quickly thaw when added to hot foods.
  • You can cook and serve peas alone as a vegetable, with added butter and salt. You can also add them to various dishes, such as salads, soups, casseroles, and savory pies. Snow peas and snap peas are often used in stir-fries and Chinese cuisine. Peas can even be mashed and made into a sauce, a spread, or guacamole!

Nutrition

  • Peas are loaded with nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin K, niacin, folate, potassium, and beta carotene. These nutrients improve the body's digestive and immune systems, convert the carbohydrates we eat into energy, metabolize fats and protein, protect skin and eyes, and help prevent bleeding.

 

History of Mac 'n Cheese!

Photo by Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock.com
  • Pasta and cheese recipes were first in 14th century Italian and medieval English cookbooks. A more modern recipe was found in a 1769 English housekeeping book. So how did macaroni and cheese become such a popular American dish? The prevailing story involves Thomas Jefferson, the third US president. Is it way too gouda to be true?! 
  • The story says that Thomas encountered macaroni and cheese when he traveled to Paris and northern Italy in the 1700s. He sketched the pasta and took detailed notes on how to make it. Then, in 1793, he sent an American ambassador all the way to Paris just to purchase a pasta machine so he could make his own macaroni. After a year of waiting, the device was finally brought back to Jefferson, and guess what?  It didn't work!
  • But Jefferson did not give up. He started importing dried macaroni pasta and Parmesan cheese from Italy to serve at his dinner parties at his home in Virginia. In 1802, Jefferson served the very first macaroni and cheese dish at a state dinner, which he named "a pie called macaroni." It was considered an exotic and fancy meal. As far as we know, this was the first time anyone in North America ate mac 'n cheese.
  • At that time, mac 'n cheese was considered a cuisine of the upper-class. However, Thomas Jefferson had slaves who cooked for him and his family. These slaves made this "fancy" dish their own, and mac 'n cheese became and remains a staple southern "soul food" dish. 
  • About two decades (20 years) after Jefferson served the first cheese pasta dish at his dinner party, a recipe called "macaroni and cheese" was published in the 1824 cookbook called The Virginia Housewife. A distant cousin of Jefferson's, Mary Randolph, wrote it. 
  • During the Great Depression in the USA in the 1930s, Kraft Foods created a boxed version: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. As a result, mac' n cheese became affordable and accessible to all Americans, and it has been one of America's most popular comfort foods ever since.
  • July 14 is "National Mac and Cheese Day!"

Let's Learn About Colonial America!

Photo by Alexander Sviridov/Shutterstock.com (Plymouth Colony Village Re-creation)
  • European settlers came to America from England, France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic in the late 1500s and created colonies for their respective countries. The Jamestown settlement in the Virginia colony was established in 1607 and was the first English community in the Americas. The Dutch founded the New Netherland colony in the area that is now the states of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. 
  • There are two reasons these countries colonized America. One was the access to natural resources in the new land and the ability to make money for investors back in their home countries. The second was for freedom to practice their religion without persecution. The Puritans were the first such pilgrims to leave England, and they settled at the Plymouth Plantation. The Province of Maryland was founded to protect English Roman Catholics. 
  • Unfortunately, foreign colonization brought hardship to the indigenous people already living there. One reason is that these people lived in an interconnected relationship with the land. In contrast, many colonists and their governments set out to conquer the land (and the Native Americans) to increase their property and wealth.
  • The thirteen British colonies eventually joined in revolting and fighting against the British in 1775 and declaring independence from the British government in July 1776. 

What Was It Like to Be a Kid in Colonial America?

  • The lives of colonists and their children were difficult. They had to live off the land and often suffered and died from diseases. Kids had to follow strict rules, and their parents expected them to do a lot of work at home.
  • There was a common belief that "children are to be seen and not heard." Therefore, kids were to eat quickly, without talking, and then leave the table as soon as they finished. Sometimes kids did not even sit at the table but stood behind their parents, waiting to have their food handed back to them!
  • Kids had household chores such as shelling corn, spinning cotton and wool, cutting sugar, gathering wood, making soap and candles, helping in the garden, and feeding the animals. 
  • Even babies had a job to do! Crawling was considered an animal behavior, so little ones wore stiff stays under their clothes to help them stay upright, keep good posture, and learn to stand and walk as soon as possible.
  • At the age of eight, boys started grammar school for writing and arithmetic, but for girls, education came second to their training in domestic duties. By age 14, young people were already considered adults. 
  • Children played with toys made of wood; however, they spent so much of their time doing chores they had to squeeze in playtime.

That's Berry Funny

I think I should work at a Smoothie shop.

I feel like I would blend in.

That's Berry Funny

"Would you like more Sweet Pea Mac 'n Cheese Cupcakes?" 

"Yes, PEAS!"

That's Berry Funny

What do polite vegetables always say? 

Peas to meet you!

That's Berry Funny

What do you call strawberries playing the guitar? 

A jam session!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call an angry pea? 

A Grump-pea!

That's Berry Funny

What is a scarecrow’s favorite fruit? 

Straw-berries!

That's Berry Funny

What do vegetables wish for, more than anything else in the whole world? 

World Peas.

The Yolk's On You

What do you call a sad strawberry? 

A blueberry.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the blueberry stop in the middle of the road? 

Because he ran out of juice!

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