Kid-friendly VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups! Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

Recipe: VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

by Erin Fletter
Photo by larry mcguirk/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

It’s time for a good ol’ fashioned childhood classic, don’t you think? Mac ‘n Cheese is bonafide comfort food, and the roots of this humble dish go way back to President Thomas Jefferson’s era in the early 1800s. On his travels to Europe, he apparently encountered a dish with pasta and cheese and brought the recipe back to the States. Jefferson’s slaves cooked the dish for many of his stately dinners, which likely explains why mac ‘n cheese became such a prominent part of Southern Soul Food cuisine. (Read more below for a brief history!) These Mac ‘n Cheese cups are loaded with veggies and melted cheddar and cook up in a muffin pan with a crispy golden-brown crust on the bottom and a Veggie Streusel on top. They’re kid friendly and adult approved, and we hope you and your kids have a ton of fun chopping, mincing, mixing, brining, and baking!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • brine :

    to soak in salted water.

  • 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)

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • scoop :

    to pick up an amount of food with a utensil to move it to a dish, pan, or container; utensils that can be used to scoop are spoons, dishers (small scoops used for cookie dough or melon balls), ice cream scoops, or large transfer scoops for bulk foods.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Grater
  • Blender
  • Colander
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Ice cream scoop


VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

  • 1 C uncooked macaroni or other small, shaped noodles **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free noodles)**
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C mixed raw veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, tomatoes, small sweet potato, etc.)
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1/2 lb silken tofu **(for SOY ALLERGY sub 1/2 can white beans)**
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp garlic or onion powder (or 1 fresh garlic clove, minced)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 C nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 C frozen corn
  • Veggie streusel crust:
  • 1/2 C reserved minced veggies (from veggies for Mac 'n Cheese Cups)
  • 1/4 C Italian or panko breadcrumbs **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free breadcrumbs)**
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free flour)**
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Food Allergen Substitutions

VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free noodles for macaroni in Vegan Mac 'n Cheese Cups. Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs for panko breadcrumbs in Streusel Crust.
  • Soy: Substitute 1/2 can white beans for 1/2 lb tofu in Vegan Mac 'n Cheese Cups.


VEGAN Corny Veggie Mac 'n Cheese Cups!

preheat + brine + mince

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium-sized pot or large mixing bowl, soak 1 cup uncooked macaroni in 3 cups of warm water + 2 teaspoon salt for 10 to 20 minutes. Chop your choice of veggies to total about 1 1/2 cups (reserve **1/2 cup for the Crispy Veggie Streusel Crust (recipe below). Chop all veggies into tiny pieces! If using sweet potato, grate it.

grate + measure + blend

Grate 1 parsnip and add to a blender. Add 1/2 pound silken tofu, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 cup nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

drain + mix + grease + scoop

Drain noodles in a colander and mix into the blended sauce. Then mix in 3/4 cup frozen corn and 3/4 cup chopped veggies. Grease a muffin pan and then use an ice cream scoop to divide Vegan Mac 'n Cheese into each well of the pan.

streusel: mix + sprinkle

In a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup reserved minced veggies, 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 pinch of salt. Mix with hands until a crumbly texture forms. Sprinkle evenly over Mac 'n Cheese Cups just before baking for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Enjoy!

History of Mac 'n Cheese!

Photo by L Veit
  • 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 Mexico!

Photo by Alena Darmel
  • Officially, Mexico's name is "The United Mexican States." It is one of several countries and territories in North America, including Canada and the United States of America.
  • Spanish is Mexico's national language, and Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican people didn't always speak Spanish, though. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived there and built great cities. The people had advanced language, education, and calendar systems, and they had very clever ways of raising food. Mexico is also the country with the largest number of native American speakers in North America. 
  • The capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexican legend says that Aztec leaders were told to build their great city of Tenochtitlan at the site where they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. That image is in the center of Mexico's flag. The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a lake. The ruins of Tenochtitlan are at the center of Mexico City and still sit on top of a lake! As water is pumped out to serve the needs of the city's growing population, the city has been sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  
  • Indigenous Mexican people included the Aztecs in the central interior of the country, the Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula, and the Zapotec of the south. Spanish explorers landed in Mexico in the early 1500s, and they ruled Mexico for over 300 years. During this time of colonization, Mexico's Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture.
  • Before the arrival of Spaniards, native Mexican food primarily consisted of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs. Indigenous people occasionally hunted and added wild turkey, rabbit, deer, and quail to their largely vegetarian diets. Native royalty sipped chocolate drinks. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, sugarcane, and wheat to Mexico upon their arrival. 
  • Mexican cuisine uses chili peppers to give it its distinct flavor. Jalapeños, poblanos, and serrano peppers are commonly used in Mexican dishes. Dishes that include mole, a sauce made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions, such as Día de los Muertos. 

What is it like to be a kid in Mexico?

  • Mexican children may live near the ocean or the gulf, in the desert, or in the mountains. 
  • Kids often live with extended family, including grandparents. Their full names include their father's and their mother's.
  • Most kids speak Spanish, but Mexico also recognizes 68 native languages. 
  • They attend school from September through June. Large schools have two shifts—one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students are usually required to wear uniforms. 
  • They may play soccer, baseball, and other sports. Jumping rope and other outdoor games are very popular. They might play a game similar to bingo called Lotería. It is played with picture cards and songs. 
  • Corn tortillas are a staple for kids, along with beans and rice. Dishes that include mole, a sauce often made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions. 
  • A popular family holiday is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors. Family members decorate the graves of their relatives who have passed on. Typical foods served for this holiday include empanadas, tamales, pan de muertos (a sweet bread in which a ring with a tiny plastic skeleton is hidden), and calaveras de azucar (sugar candy skulls). 

THYME for a Laugh

What do corn cobs call their fathers?

Pop corn.

That's Berry Funny

Why didn't anyone laugh at the gardener's jokes?

Because they were too corny!

Lettuce Joke Around

Customer: "Excuse me, waiter, is there Mac 'n Cheese on the menu?" 

Waiter: "No, madam, I wiped it off."

That's Berry Funny

What is the most mythical vegetable?

The uni-CORN.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a pasta that is sick? 

Mac and Sneeze.

THYME for a Laugh

What do you get when a corn cob is run over by a truck? 

"Creamed" corn.

Lettuce Joke Around

Why shouldn’t you tell a secret on a farm? 

Because the corn has ears and the potatoes have eyes.

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