Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Pasta (aka Mac & Cheese for Adults)

I hadn't thought about blogging this recipe. I made it up as I went along, and wasn't expecting something that special. I don't know if it is special, but when my husband said "I would buy this at a restaurant" I quickly grabbed the camera to take pictures before I forgot and everything was gone!

I invented this recipe through a very scientific process.

I needed something to make for dinner.

I knew we had penne pasta, and I knew we had Velveeta (well, the Aldi equivalent, but we still like it), so Mac & Cheese it was. But that's not that healthy, I thought. I can at least add protein. So I got the chicken out the thaw.

Later in the day, I start the pasta, and am cutting up the chicken into very small pieces when I realize this meal is going not really have much color. Besides orange. Orange is a great color, but I really wanted to get some veggies in without having to cook something else.

So I decided to add peas to the dish.

Then, as I have the cheese, chicken, and peas in the pan, I realize I need something to help make it creamy. So I add a little sour cream, cottage cheese, and milk. Melt it, stir it, sprinkle it with cheddar, italian bread crumbs, and parmesan, and stick it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Ok, not rocket science, but this is a great dish to take to a pot luck. It's easy, fairly quick, and very economical. As well as very cheesy. What's not to love?

(1) 16 oz box of pasta - your choice. I used penne
(1) 16 oz Velveeta, cubed
(1 ) 1/2 lb chicken breast, cut up very tiny (makes about 1 cup)
(1) 1 cup peas. I threw mine in frozen and they turned out fine
(1) 1 scoop sour cream
(1) 1 scoop cottage cheese
(1) milk. I'm not sure how much I used ... probably just over 1/2 cup?
(1) 1/2 cheddar cheese, shredded
italian bread crumbs
parmesan cheese

What You Do
Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, cut up chicken very tiny and cook in skillet with some butter. Set aside.

Whenever you have time, cube the Velveeta. This is important so that it'll melt easier when the time comes.

Drain pasta and pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350. Start adding Velveeta into the pasta. The heat will start melting the cheese, but it won't be enough to melt it as needed.

Add all of your cubed Velveeta, your chicken and peas, scoop out your cottage cheese and sour cream, and pour the milk over. Stir. Put in the oven for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, pull out the dish and stir very well. You want to try and get the cheese well mixed and spread. Top with cheddar cheese, sprinkle generously with the bread crumbs, and add a little parmesan, if desired.

Put back in the oven for 25 minutes. Mine was just beginning to brown and get a little dried out on the top, but underneath was nice and moist. It made for a good texture mix when eating.

So let me know what you think! Would you pay for this at a restaurant? What variations would you put in?

I think this would also be good with broccoli, mushrooms, and/or bacon! Of course, for any added ingredients, you'll need to increase the liquid/cheese some to make sure everything is coated properly.

Happy eating!

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