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Carol Kicinski
These mac and cheese meatballs are a fun gluten-free meal for children.

The mac & meatball war

    This recipe comes to you thanks to my two grandkids. It was a difference of opinion that quickly escalated into a conflict to rival that in the Middle East.
   It all started out innocently enough.

   Me: “Hey guys, what should we make for dinner?”
   Him: “Meatballs!”
   Her: “Mac and cheese!”
   Him: “No! Meatballs!”
   Her: “No! Mac and cheese!”

   This went on for what seemed like an hour, each time his voice becoming lower and more menacing and her voice becoming higher and more screechy.

   Me: “Why don’t we make both?”
   Them: “No!”

   At least they could agree on that, although the reason why this was not a viable option is
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beyond me. So I suggested we figure out a way to make a meatball out of mac and cheese.
   There was silence, followed by an eager and enthusiastic “yes” from both kids. Now it was up to me to figure out how to do it.
   I always keep a few boxes of gluten-free macaroni and cheese in my pantry for two reasons. One is that it is an easy snack the grandkids can make themselves for one of the 17 times a day they need to eat lest they starve to death. And secondly, I once spent four hours making a delightful four-cheese gluten-free macaroni and cheese dish
only to have the kids very politely tell me that they preferred the stuff in the box.
   So, armed with a box of mac and cheese, some ground beef and quite a bit of courage, we set out to create gluten-free mac and cheese meatballs.
   They were a big hit and peace reigned all throughout dinner and even a little beyond. And then began the discrepancy regarding whose idea this fabulous creation was.

   Him: “Mine!”
   Her: “No, mine!”

    At which point I exercised my God-given right as a grandparent. I sent them back home to their parents!
Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Meatballs
Makes about 24 meatballs
1 (5-ounce) box gluten-free macaroni and cheese
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1 small carrot, grated
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Gluten-free non-stick cooking spray

   Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
   Prepare the mac and cheese according to the package directions, omitting the additional milk and butter. Let cool for 10 minutes.
   Combine the ground beef with the grated onion and carrot, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Add in the prepared mac and cheese. Roll into balls using ¼ cup of the mixture per meatball.
   Place on prepared baking sheets, spray with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes or until they are browned. The meatballs will feel soft – they firm up a little as they cool. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.