Kid-Friendly Mac and Cheese, and a Grownup Way to Use the Leftovers

One common dieting pitfall parents fall into is eating food off of kids' plates. Avoid this by making creative use of leftover kid-friendly food.

Related To:

macaroni and cheese

People constantly confess to me that their biggest diet pitfall is nibbling on their kid’s leftovers. French fries, macaroni and cheese, burgers, pizza. Things you wouldn’t put on YOUR dinner plate, but eat while doing the dishes. Instead of feeling guilty, why not enjoy kid food with reckless abandon? Even better – get creative with leftovers and make memorable meals for the entire family. Macaroni and cheese is the perfect place to start because kids love it and parents devour all remaining scraps (along with their adult meals). That’s when calories skyrocket. To start, you need a great recipe for macaroni and cheese; one that’s healthy yet rich and bursting with cheese flavor. My renowned macaroni and cheese is below. I bake mine to create a creamy middle and crisp, Parmesan-spiked topping (the part everyone loves). It’s sinful tasting, yet lighter in fat and calories thanks to light sour cream and evaporated skim milk. Since the recipe makes a big batch, you can easily store leftovers and enjoy my mac n cheese cakes with spicy tomato sauce another day – crispy, Parmesan and panko-crusted cakes dipped in warm, smoky tomato sauce. Got creative uses for YOUR leftovers? Let’s hear ‘em!

macaroni and cheese
Macaroni and Cheese
Cooking spray
16 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
12 ounces evaporated skim milk
8 ounces light sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cheese, evaporated milk, sour cream, egg, seasoned salt, dry mustard and pepper. Whisk until large lumps disappear. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine (mixture may seem thin but it bakes to perfection). Transfer mixture to prepared dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

Bake 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Serves 6
Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 1/3 cups)
Calories: 470
Total Fat: 13 grams
Saturated Fat: 7 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 58 grams
Sugars: 7 grams
Protein: 27 grams
Sodium: 341 milligrams
Cholesterol: 64 milligrams
Fiber: 2 grams
macaroni and cheese
Mac and Cheese Cakes With Spicy Tomato Sauce

The macaroni and cheese is easier to shape into cakes when it’s been chilled. And you can incorporate the crispy Parmesan topping into the cakes when shaping them (unless that part has been eaten!).

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon minced dried onion (from the spice aisle)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups leftover macaroni and cheese (recipe above)
2 large egg whites

1 cup prepared tomato sauce (your favorite pasta sauce or canned tomato sauce)

1 tablespoon minced chipotle chilies in adobo
2 teaspoons olive oil

In a shallow dish, combine panko, onion and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine macaroni and cheese, egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the panko mixture. Mix well. Shape mixture into four cakes, each about 2-inches thick. Transfer macaroni and cheese cakes to remaining panko mixture and turn to coat both sides. Refrigerate 10 minutes, until cakes hold their shape.

Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce and chipotle chilies in a small saucepan and set pan over medium heat. Simmer 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cakes and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve macaroni and cheese cakes with sauce underneath or spooned over top.

Serves 4
Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 cake, 1/4 cup sauce)
Calories: 277
Total Fat: 9 grams
Saturated Fat: 4 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 33 grams
Sugars: 6 grams
Protein: 15 grams
Sodium: 599 milligrams
Cholesterol: 30 milligrams
Fiber: 2 grams

You Might Also Like:

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of "Robin Takes 5" and “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at

Next Up

The Best Cheeses to Use for Mac and Cheese

The type of cheese you use can make or (literally) break your mac and cheese sauce.

Macaroni & Cheese, Lightened Up

I don’t know many people that would turn down mac and cheese. But is there a way to devour it without worry? Learn how to make the cheesy goodness with less calories and more flavor.

Make Irish Macaroni and Cheese

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, whip up this easy Irish Macaroni and Cheese from Food Network Magazine.

50 Mac and Cheese Recipes

Find dozens of new ways to make a weeknight favorite from Food Network Magazine.

Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese — Meatless Monday

For this Meatless Monday, delight in Food Network's Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese from Rachael Ray.

Taste Test: Frozen Macaroni and Cheese

Taste tested frozen macaroni and cheese. More tips like these at Food Network

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese — Meatless Monday

Upgrade your mac-and-cheese game with one key ingredient: cayenne pepper.

POLL: Stovetop or Baked Macaroni and Cheese?

How you make that macaroni and cheese? On the stovetop or in the oven?

Which is Healthier, Lasagna or Mac & Cheese?

Our next head-to-head battle is between two popular pasta entrées. Who’ll win this (comfort) food fight, lasagna or macaroni and cheese?

How to Make Fried Mac and Cheese

Once you’ve made your favorite mac and cheese from Food Network Magazine’s 50 Twists on Mac and Cheese (page 118, March issue), try this tasty trick for using up leftovers.