For the last few weeks I have been terribly busy.
When life starts to pile up on me, and lately that happens a lot, I crave easy meals that offer a lot of comfort. Comfort, for me, comes in the form of cheesy pasta with a Tex-Mex kick. I know I have mentioned before my love of all things Tex-Mex, and I am sure we have discussed my love of macaroni and cheese. This takes those two loves, adds some juicy roast chicken, and merges them into a satisfying meal.
I used a roast chicken from the grocery store deli for this pasta, but any chicken you have should be fine. Spiced ground beef or left over fajita meat would also be good here, I think. You could also add other peppers or maybe some other veggies, too. Bell peppers and mushrooms come instantly to mind. Next time you need some quick comfort, give this a try!
Queso Chicken Pasta Serves 4-6
8 ounces penne pasta
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/3 cup milk, 2% or higher
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cream cheese
6 ounces colby-jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup drained Ro*Tel tomatoes
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
Heat the oven to 350 F and spray a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but reduce the cooking time by two minutes.
In a medium pot heat the oil over medium heat. Once it begins to shimmer add the onion, garlic and peppers. Cook until they begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and salt and cook for an additional two minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.
Add the flour and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly, until all the flour is moist. Gradually whisk in the milk and stir until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken.
Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese and 4 ounces of the shredded cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the Ro*Tel tomatoes.
Pour the pasta into the prepared casserole dish, stir in the shredded chicken and sauce. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pasta is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Let stand five minutes before serving.