We love Mac n Cheese! I think most of us grew up on a version of this tasty dish. A lot of versions use heavy cream, processed cheese, real butter, … sounds good doesn’t it 🙂
My mission is to find ways to incorporate our healthy lifestyle into all areas. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy nostalgic dishes from our childhood… but it’s ok to try incorporate healthy options for my family as much as possible. For this dish, it’s trying to make Mac n Cheese that tastes good and has the right modifications that align with our weekly eating goals. I’ve added chicken for protein, Pico de Gallo for flavor (and veggies)… and a little bacon, … because everything is better with bacon!
- 1 rotisserie chicken (I used Kroger Simple Truth); 3~4 cups shredded.
- 1 box of Barilla Whole Grain Elbow Pasta; cooked and drained according to box instructions.
- 1 cup of fresh Pico de Gallo (I used fresh from Kroger’s produce section)
- 4 slices of bacon; cooked and chopped
- 1/4 cup of flour; used for roux, other flour type could be substituted as long as it can be used as a thickening agent.
- 3 1/2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 cup of milk (I used 2%)
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 2 cups of shredded cheddar; reserve 1/2 cup for topping.
- 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish to prevent sticking.
Use a 4qt sauce pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and flour to pan, sauté to combine to change the flour taste. Reduce heat (~medium) and add chicken broth, milk, and cheese. Salt and pepper. Stir until nice and creamy. Once consistency is thicker, turn off heat. Add pico and bacon to the cheese mixture, stir to combine.
Mix cooked elbow pasta, shredded chicken, and cheese mixture together. Place in baking dish.
In a skillet on medium-high heat add 1/2 tsp of olive oil and panko bread crumbs. Lightly toast.
Sprinkle toasted panko and remaining cheese on top of dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 min, remove foil, and bake another ~5 min until top is golden brown.
Calories = ~335 per container
Prep time = ~45 min
# of containers = ~10