And… I’m back! I finally have a functional kitchen, the holidays are over, and everyone can expect new posts about every three days! I hope everyone had a great holiday, I know I certainly did. There will also be lots of healthier posts on here as I try to stay on track with upcoming resolutions, but for now it’s a semi-healthy, extremely cheesy dinner casserole that’s great for kids.
First, preheat your oven to 375°F. Then, we make a cheese sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then stir in flour and cook until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds.
Next, slowly whisk in chicken broth and milk, adding it in small amounts and whisking until smooth so that you don’t get any lumps.
Once all the broth and milk is incorporated, increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and slowly whisk in cheeses until melted and smooth.
Stir in the chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and cook briefly, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until softened but still crisp. Transfer to the baking dish. Add the corn and the lasagna noodles to the baking dish.
Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat, add the chicken, chipotle powder, and garlic powder, and cook until almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to the baking dish. Mix baking dish, then pour cheese sauce over the top, stirring lightly to distribute cheese sauce. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
While the casserole bakes, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with panko, grated parmesan cheese, ant salt. If you don’t have parmesan cheese, don’t substitute for other cheese. Simply toast the panko and salt, and keep the cheese on the side. Once the casserole has baked for 20 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the panko/parmesan or the separate panko and cheddar (or any other) cheese over the top, and bake until browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes more. (The clumpy cheesy panko clumps you see are what happens if you foolishly try to melt Jack cheese with breadcrumbs. It doesn’t work. I know this! I did it anyway. Don’t make my mistake, use Parmesan or keep the grated cheese separate and sprinkle over the top unmelted.)
Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 ounces, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar shredded
- 4 ounces jack cheese shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 pound cauliflower florets
- 8 oz . frozen or fresh corn pieces
- 1 pound skinless boneless, chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 7 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles broken into 2-inch shards
- 3/4 cup panko or plain bread crumbs
- 2 ounces Parmesan grated
Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth and milk, removing all lumps. Bring to simmer, remove from heat, and slowly whisk in cheddar and jack until melted and smooth. Stir in chili flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook briefly, stirring occasionally—cauliflower should remain crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to baking dish.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, garlic powder, and ground chipotle and cook until almost cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to baking dish. Add corn and lasagna pieces.
Stir chicken into casserole, mixing well. Pour cheese sauce over top, pressing mixture into sauce. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss with panko, grated Parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Remove baking dish from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle with bread crumb topping and continue to bake until browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes more. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.