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DIY Food Kids Travel Los Angeles

the cutest party foods for kids…

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Heirloom LA

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Heirloom LA

When we threw Ruby's little ice cream social, I wanted to make sure the kids ate a healthy meal before filling their bellies with the special ice cream treat. So I called upon my crazy-talented friend, Matt Poley from Heirloom LA, to come up with healthy and kid-friendly foods to feast on. What he came up with blew my mind and gave me so much inspiration for future meal-making for Ruby.

Fruit and Cheese Skewers by Heirloom LA

Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches by Heirloom LA

Mini Crudite

Mac and Cheese Nuggets by Heirloom LA

The menu included (from top to bottom): mini grilled cheese sandwiches (in heart and star shapes); fruit, cheese, and mouse melon skewers; baby vegetable crudités (with ranch dressing for dipping), almond butter and banana sandwiches topped with sea salt, and finally, mac n' cheese nuggets (shaped like kids!). I mean, have you ever seen food look so cute?! Even the parents were chowing down on these beautiful morsels of goodness.

Oh Joy Mini Ice Cream Social

Matt made these mac n' cheese nuggets for the first-time ever for our party, and they were such a hit that he has kindly shared the recipe with us today. Thanks so much to Heirloom LA for these amazing treats and for giving me a serious dose of kid food inspiration!

See below for the recipe…

Mac n’ Cheese Nuggets
Makes 12-15 little mac n' cheese people (plus you will have scraps to snack on!)

You'll need:
– 9”x15” casserole dish, sprayed with vegetable spray and lined with plastic wrap
– gingerbread people cookie cutter (or your favorite shape cut outs)
– electric deep fryer (or safe-frying setup such as a sauce pot filled halfway with vegetable oil and a candy thermometer)
– plastic wrap
– a heavy book that fits snugly inside the casserole dish
– carrot tops or yellow and white flowers for garnish

And…
-1 box cooked pasta (approx 1 lb. of penne or elbow macaroni works best because they hold the cheese sauce) 
– 32 oz Bechamel Sauce (recipe below)
– 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
– 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
– 3 whole eggs, beaten
– 2 cups breadcrumbs
– 1 cup flour
– salt and pepper to taste

Here's how:
1. In a medium sauce pot, bring bechamel to a low simmer and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in cheeses, continue mixing until cheese has fully melted.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked pasta with cheese sauce and massage pasta into the cheese sauce either with your hands (more fun!) or with a rubber spatula.

3. Once all the pasta is coated, transfer to sprayed and lined casserole dish and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Wash your hands then press pasta into all the corners as to avoid air pockets.

4. Place your heavy book on top of the plastic wrap-protected pasta and set in freezer for a minimum of 1 hour. Remove from freezer and removed solidified pasta block from the pan and then cut into your favorite shapes. (Be sure to save the scraps for reheating in a microwave safe bowl as it will remelt nicely with just a few tablespoons of water and microwaved covered with a lid.)

4. To bread the cut-outs, first dredge the pieces in the flour and pat off extra flour, then dip until coated thoroughly in the beaten eggs, followed by the bread crumbs mixture. Be sure to pat as much breadcrumbs as possible onto the pieces as to create a nice sturdy bread coating that will remain after the frying process.

5. Store cut-outs in freezer until you would like to cook them. They will be best when fried, however, you can bake them for a healthier option (17-20 minutes at 350°).

6. To fry, preheat oil to 350 degrees, carefully place cut-outs into the fryer and allow to fry until golden brown (about 4 minutes). With a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.

7. The Mac and Cheese kids can sit out for quite sometime and be good to munch on but if you would like to serve them hot, you can pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes if you want to get your frying out of the way before snack time.

We like dipping them in ketchup, BBQ, or ranch sauce!

To make the bechamel, you'll need:
– 32 oz whole milk
– 2 tablespoons salt
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 4 oz (1/2 cup)  of the milk until smooth, set aside. In a non-reactive saucepan (such as stainless steel), bring the remaining milk and salt to a simmer. Begin whisking the milk over low heat and pour in the milk/cornstarch mixture. Allow to come to a slow boil and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to apply to above recipe. NOTE: If you are preparing this recipe right before you make the Mac and Cheese, you can mix the cheese into the béchamel while its hot as to not have to reheat again.

{Photos by Oh Joy}

31 comments

  1. So cute! We are having some little guests come over for the day in a couple weeks, so I may have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    xoxo
    Allison over at Allison’s Eye

  2. Cute is an understatement! My 4 yet old and 2 yr old would gobble everything you made up. They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but the presentation is soooo amazing the taste has to be as good.

  3. The meaning of life.
    The secret at the core of the meaning of life is that only children ascend into heaven. The innocence and purity of children are the valued charecterisitics, requirements of the gods. And come adulthood people’s purity becomes compromised as they become corrupted, earning them their place in the level of the animals. The gods have transcended the typical needs of the animals, and have achieve a higher life form. So many clues they offer in society. One is to find your inner child inside. To understand these charecterisits will help you see the path you must take. Children value things that are healthy, like family, togetherness, unconditional love, not drinking, drugs, sexual intercourse.
    Mankind has taken this journey since the beginning of time::::A moment of clarity compelled those with faith to pursue enlightenment, pray and seek more, and with proper long-term behavior more was given. When combined with attonement for prior sins significant progress was made, ensuring true candidacy upon reincarnation, resulting in the individual’s final spiritual journey.

  4. Wish you might consider not posting things with Vegetable Oil in them, or other harmful oils/products that include GMO’s. SO not healthy, and doesn’t really mesh with everything you exude on the blog. Some friends and I were discussing how we were really disappointed that you were will to promote something that is so unhealthy!

  5. I’m confused by your comment. Joy has never said anything either for or against GMOs. I really don’t know how you can conclude that she is promoting them. Anyway, is deep frying food in vegetable oil really that much more unhealthy than eating ice cream sundaes or candy?
    While I may be anti-GMO and hold many strong beliefs about food politics, I don’t think this is the right venue for those complaints or discussions. Let’s take a deep breath and instead focus on how cute the foods posted are!

  6. I’m so embarrassed to say, as I have frequented many blogs over the years, that I have not read yours today until I read like 80 pages of it. I read about you in the BH&G, I’m a little behind… 🙂 Anyway, you have the CUTEST blog on the block, girlfriend!! Loved your abroad posts and traveling with toddlers. I don’t have kids but it looks hard and I know a lot of my friends with kids have sworn that off for awhile. Anyway, in efforts to make this comment less creepy, I love your stuff! 🙂

  7. Kids will definitely enjoy their parties with foods like these. Cute, yummy and healthy! I will definitely try that Mac n’ Cheese Nuggets. Can you also make a blog post on how to make fruit, cheese, and mouse melon skewers?

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