Who doesn’t love mac n cheese??? Really, raise your hand if you don’t…
That’s exactly what I suspected.
Everyone loves mac n cheese! How could you not?! Mac n cheese is the ULTIMATE comfort food. Think about it. It’s cheesy, creamy, carbohydrates in all of their glory. Then, of course, you pop it in the oven to form that crispy crust on top. *Sigh* Heaven. How else can you describe it?
Everyone has their own way of making it, too, and that’s half the fun! I make several different versions and I LOVE experimenting with different combinations. But “my way.” The way that I’m most proud of and most likely to devour an entire pan of…
Mac n Cheese.
I don’t know about you, but for me, there is nothing like a meal that encompasses four of my most favorite foods – chili peppers, chicken, pasta and cheese. Wonderful, glorious cheese. This particular mac n cheese isn’t even all that bad for you, which makes it all the more appealing if you ask me!
Typically you’ll find recipes for mac n cheese with whole milk or even half and half or heavy cream! I used nonfat milk for my béchamel and I also used whole wheat pasta. The veggies and chicken bulk out the dish with vitamins and protein, too!
The tortilla chips on top are optional and maybe not that great nutritionally, but I love how they mimic the typical crunchy crust on your standard mac n cheese. And ya only live once… so I say lay them on thick!
Chipotle Chicken Mac n Cheese
- 1/2 box whole wheat penne pasta
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large bell pepper, sliced into strips
(I actually used half of a red pepper and half of an orange one – because I had them and they were pretty. Whatever color you have will suffice though, I promise!)
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt &Pepper to taste
- 3 chipotles in adobo, diced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup nonfat milk, heated
- 1 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Tortilla chips
Cook the pasta to package directions but drain just before al dente.
To make your chipotle cheese sauce, begin by melting the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk together until it forms a paste. Let cook until all of the flour and butter are combined and become fragrant. (It’ll smell kind of nutty, this is called a roux! ) Slowly whisk in your heated milk. (I stress that it’s heated – be it on the stove top or in the microwave – because, particularly with nonfat milk, if cold milk is added to the hot roux it’ll become lumpy and pretty funky. So please, heat your milk!) Whisk vigorously until combined and a smooth sauce is formed. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese, chipotles and adobo sauce.
Meanwhile, season the chicken with chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic and onion. At this point t should look something like this.
Add the cooked pasta to the chicken mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the cheese sauce and frozen peas. Stir to combine.
Serve topped with tortilla chips if it strikes your fancy.
Repeat as often as possible.