Friday, January 20, 2012

Super Mac

The very first meal I remember making on my own was mac and cheese. My sister will tell you how awful that first batch was, but thankfully I have learned. I have not, however, lost my love for mac and cheese.

Mac is at the top of my favorite comfort foods, always an excellent choice regardless of season or mood. Warm, cheesy, savory, carbohydrate goodness. Mac is so versatile. Enjoy it with peas, or a sliced all-beef hot dog fresh from the grill, with almost any cheese combination you could dream of. Endless possibilities.

This could be my favorite. You can even have it two ways!

Super Mac gives you a complete meal -- protein, fat, carbs -- all with good veggies. Fast enough for a weeknight meal or a hearty Sunday casserole.

Super Mac
Serves 4

2 cups whole wheat penne
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, about 20 oz
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 oz fat free cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Heat a Dutch oven or large sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat, add the oil and then the onion and a pinch or two of salt. Let the onions cook down for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to your pan with another pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Allow the chicken to cook, stirring every few minutes. When the chicken begins to brown, add the asparagus and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the water. Stir in the the cream cheese, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add remain cheeses and some of the pasta water, stirring to combine.

When the cheeses have melted, add the pasta and stir to cover. Add more water if necessary to reach the consistency you would like.

You can serve your Super Mac here, or you can pile it into a casserole dish, cover with 1/4 cup bread crumbs and another 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the top has browned and the mac is bubbly.

If you are going to bake your mac, cook the pasta a minute or two short of the directions on the package.

If penne is not your top choice for your mac (elbows, anyone?), just choose another whole wheat alternative.

How do you like your mac?

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