Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

I am trying to convince myself that there are really only 5 work days that stand between another weekend.  For some reason, I know that doesn’t mean anything.  These days the weekend doesn’t mean no work – it just means that I am not at work, and I guess if I think back to 16 years ago, before I had a laptop, when I had work to do – I actually had to drive to work.  It was a different world back then.  In a way, even though work never stops anymore, at least I am not wasting hours away sitting in the car.

When I think back to those times, I remember what I used to do about meal planning.  This was before kids – and my husband worked just as much as I did.  We would usually make it home around 8pm most nights, sometimes even later – and at that time, I couldn’t start making dinner from scratch. So – Sundays was my “cooking day.”  I would make 2-3 meals that I could put in the refrigerator and just stick in the oven when I got home.  In about 30 minutes, I would have a delicious meal for us – while I was sitting on the coach watching TV.  It was awesome.  This was also before the Big Green Egg.  We ate a lot of one dish meals back then – and we loved them.  I would usually make one casserole with rice, and one with pasta.  If I had enough time, I would also make a hearty soup.  When we ran out of the meals I had prepared, then we would order take out…but some weeks we had plenty to last until the weekend.

One of the dishes I used to make was a chicken-noodle casserole.  Each week it was slightly different – but always healthy, and always with fresh vegetables.  When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – it reminded me of those days.  Now I am just too busy on the weekends to prepare meals for the week – and my husband actually does it for me – he will smoke up some extra chicken breasts or pork, that I will use in my recipes during the week.  It is definitely a huge time saver.

This mac-n-cheese was a huge hit – and it covered all the food groups.  For less than 400 calories a serving, you cannot go wrong.  And hey, it was awesome warmed up the next day.  So – even if you don’t have your act together to make your meals ahead of time – this one will feed a crowd…so enjoy the leftovers – particularly when it is warming up in the oven, and you are sitting on the couch recovering from the day, instead of slaving over a hot stove…

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)

Preparation

Preheat broiler to high.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with turmeric; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.

Combine remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, milk, stock, and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add pasta mixture and 2 ounces cheese; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 3 ounces cheese and bacon. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

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