Macaroni & Cheese (& Chicken & Broccoli)

You know when you’ve had a turrible day at work?

from ellen

from ellen

And all you really want to do is hunker down on the couch, drink (anything), watch Private Practice re-runs, pet your cat, and eat carbs?

from maakies

from maakies

Yeah, I have those days a lot.

And the last thing I want to do is come home (hungry) and assemble ingredients for a meal, attempt to cook it, wait for it to cook, burn my mouth trying to eat the (too hot) food, and not get a little perturbed.

from aarp

from aarp

And that’s why they invented deep freezers. So you can plan ahead and meet Future You’s carb needs while making an easy, delicious dinner right now.

Like maybe that old staple Mac & Cheese with a little protein and some veggies thrown in.

from barfblog

from barfblog

(Don’t think this isn’t brilliant. Future You is thanking you right now. Well, right now in the future….)

(Sorry. I watch a lot of sci fi.)

First thing you want to do is gather your ingredients:

  • raw chicken, your favorite parts. I chose legs–cheap and delicious
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • block of cream cheese
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • pasta
  • breadcrumbs

Since we’re making a pasta-based dish, the first logical thing to do is boil a big pot of water for the pasta.

So, put a pot of water on to boil.

Also, preheat the oven to 350.

Now grab your milk.

2 cups milk

2 cups milk

Simmer it in a medium pot.

simmering milk

simmering milk

Once the milk is simmering, add your chicken.

chicken in milk

chicken in milk

I know. It seems a little…grotesque. And maybe poetic in a weird way.

Maybe it’s just me.

But it’s about to make this freakin’ delicious. Trust me.

Ok, while the meat is simmering, the pasta water is probably boiling, so throw the pasta in there. If you use gluten-free pasta, this becomes a gluten-free dish. Whoohoo!

boiling pasta

boiling pasta

While everything is going on the stove, chop up the broccoli. I happen to prefer smallish bite-sized pieces, but you can cut it into whatever size you like.

heads of broccoli

heads of broccoli

all chopped up

all chopped up

Once the pasta is almost done–maybe 3  or 4 minutes before al dente, slide in that chopped broccoli.

sliding the broccoli in

sliding the broccoli in

chopped broccoli a boilin'

chopped broccoli a boilin’

The chicken is probably done by now–but check it, folks, because it’s really important that you check on these things–and if it is done, take it out of the pot and let it cool.

cooling chicken

cooling chicken

Turn the heat off, and add a block of chopped up cream cheese and the tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the milk.

cream cheese

cream cheese

in the milk

in the milk

Let it get all melty while you drain the pasta.

draining

draining

Reserve a cup of that pasta water.

pasta water

pasta water

Now skin the cooled chicken and chop it up.

chopped chicken

chopped chicken

If you’re like me, and have a penchant for eating soup and saving money (correlation–not causation, folks), then save this chicken bones for making chicken stock.

bones

bones

Yum.

Okay, in a large-ish bowl, combine the pasta water, the chopped chicken, and the cheesy sauce.

chicken, sauce, water

chicken, sauce, water

Add the pasta and broccoli.

good stuff

good stuff

Now add a few handfuls of grated cheese. Whatever you have on hand.

Also, now is the time to add salt & pepper.

tossed with cheese

tossed with cheese

This is enough to eat now AND freeze for Future You, so divide between a baking dish and freezer dishes.

freezer portions

freezer portions

Top the one for right now with breadcrumbs. These can be GF, too (hence the strange yellow color), or you can use something else, like panko.

baking dish with breadcrumbs

baking dish with breadcrumbs

Bake at 350 until bubbly–about 20 minutes.

dinner

dinner

Carby & tasty.

suck it, martha.

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Categories: Food & Drink

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