Macaroni, Chicken & Cauliflower Casserole

This week I’m meal prepping a macaroni, chicken & cauliflower casserole from fitfoodiefinds.com. Good ol’ casserole. MMM. This recipe is so good! It tastes warm, comforting and just like home. It’s next level microwavable mac n’ cheese. Kidding, haha. It’s got all the goodies: elbow noodles, chicken and a bomb cheese sauce. And you can’t forget the bread crumbs and green onions (bacon if you want too)!

I definitely ate a lot of mac n’ cheese as a kid. I mostly ate them from the microwavable cups. Now, I don’t really eat mac n’ cheese as much as I use to. I did a handful of times in my dorm room freshmen year because it was convenient. But, during sophomore year I don’t think I even had mac n’ cheese ONCE. Wow. I was missing out. So this week I told myself, girl you need to make some mac n’ cheese. I’m glad I listened to myself.

So, before I dive into the recipe I’m going to give you some tips about green onions and broth.

My tip for green onions:

Store your green onions in the fridge in a cup with water covering the roots. Within a few days or weeks they will double in size! It’s amazing. They last so much long and stay fresh. Now you’ll have green onions in your fridge to chop up whenever you want to add a little bit of flavor to your next meal. Fun fact you can do this with most herbs to maximize freshness.

My tip for broth:

Recipes usually call for 1/2-1 cup of broth. The cartons that are sold at grocery stores contain about 4 cups. They also suggest that you use the contents within 7-10 days of opening. But like most college students, we don’t use that much broth within that time frame (unless your making some soup or something).

So, here are some options to get around the problem of not wasting food or money.

  1. You can use the leftover broth when cooking grains like quinoa, rice or pasta.
  2. You can use it to throw together a soup with random contents of your fridge and pantry.
  3. You can freeze it!

A month or so ago I bought beef bone broth. It was a carton with 4 cups. I didn’t use it all within the 7-10 day window so I froze it. First, I grabbed my measuring cups and portioned the remaining broth into 1/2-1 cup servings into freezer safe tubberware (or you can use bags). Then, I got some tape and pen and labeled each tubberware. For example, I wrote “7/10 beef bone broth 1/2 cup.” Another reason why I love the freezer. But this is also why no one wants to share a freezer with me. Sorry roomies…

So, I was thankful I had some broth in the freezer when I was assembling my grocery list for this recipe. I didn’t have to buy more! I think the easiest way to thaw the broth is in the fridge overnight for 12-24 hours. But, if you’re in a pinch, you can put the tubberware in water or melt the broth on the stovetop. Also, if you run into a problem like you have 1 cup frozen but only need 1/4 cup then just thaw it completely, measure what you need (1/4 cup) and then refreeze what you don’t use.

I switch up what kind of broth I buy: bone, stock, beef, chicken, vegetable. I still need to try out mushroom and turkey! But, I always buy low sodium because you really don’t need that much salt. Most recipes call for salt anyway. And when you’re following a recipe you should be salting to taste.

So, here is FitFoodieFinds recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or about 1.5 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese (shred the block yourself)
  • 15 oz chicken breast (look at the weight on the package- about 2)
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil like avocado
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower (about 4 cups), cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup broth (bone or stock works)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 4 cloves minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 8 oz of elbow macaroni noodles (I got wheat from TJ)
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs, chopped green onions and bacon.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the milk over medium-high heat. When it is simmering sprinkle in the tapioca one tablespoon at a time, whisking to prevent clumps and burnt milk. After 8-10 minutes, when the milk is thicker, whisk in the shredded cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. In a pan, heat oil on high (I used a cast iron pan). Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown for about a minute on each side. Then, slice the chicken into bite sized.
  4. Next, add the cauliflower and chicken to the casserole dish. Then, pour over the sauce and broth. Mix until combined.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes at 375ºF. Then, stir in the uncooked noodles. Bake for 10 more minutes. Bake for 5-15 more minutes stirring every 5 minutes. Check the chicken and noodles to prevent under or over cooking. Remember, the noodles and chicken will continue to cook when you take it out of the oven. The key is to undercook the noodles a little bit because they get softer as the dish cools.
  6. Top the casserole with bread crumbs, green onions and bacon.

2 thoughts

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