Food & Drink

Mac 'n' cheese chicken pie makes a hearty dinner

Mac Cheese and Chicken makes a hearty dinner. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Mac Cheese and Chicken makes a hearty dinner. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Looking for a warm and welcoming winter meal? This Mac Cheese and Chicken pie will fit the bill. It’s an updated version of one of America’s favorite meals.

A bubbly, cheesy homemade pie can take too long to make for a busy weeknight. Using frozen chopped onions and green pepper along with cooked chicken slices, you can make this meal in 20 minutes. I have used cheddar cheese mixed with part-skim milk ricotta, which still gives the cheese texture and flavor, but lowers the fat content. Adding chicken rounds out the meal.

I like to keep frozen onion and green peppers on hand to add to many sauces and dishes. Using them cuts preparation time.

Serve a washed, ready-to-eat salad with your favorite low-fat salad dressing on the side.

Helpful Hints:

• Any type of short-cut pasta can be used.

• Fresh diced onion and green pepper can be found in the produce section of some markets. They can be used instead of frozen onion and green pepper.

• If you like a crusty bottom to the pie, cook it in the skillet a little longer.

Countdown:

• Place water for pasta on to boil.

• Make pie.

• Assemble salad.

MAC CHEESE AND CHICKEN

Yield 2 servings.

2 ounces small elbow macaroni (3/4 cups)

Olive oil spray

1 cup frozen chopped onion

1 cup frozen chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup part skim milk ricotta cheese

8 ounces reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups), divided use

2 cups fresh tomato cubes

4 ounces cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast slices

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts water on to boil. When water boils, add macaroni and boil ten minutes.

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Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add the onions and green pepper and saute 2 minutes to defrost. Combine ricotta, half the Cheddar cheese, tomatoes and chicken in a large bowl. Add cayenne pepper and mix in onions and green pepper. Drain macaroni and add to cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the mixture to skillet and sprinkle remaining cheddar evenly over the top. Cover with a lid and let set on medium heat 10 minutes.

Per serving: 650 calories (25 percent from fat), 17.8 g fat (8.7 g saturated, 5.7 g monounsaturated), 85 mg cholesterol, 57.6 g protein, 65.1 g carbohydrates, 6.2 g fiber, 1,090 mg sodium.

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