So, I like to cook a lot. It’s something that started in college a bit, and then really took off once I became a grown up (eek) and we moved across the country and my mommy couldn’t cook for me anymore (sad face). I found some cooking blogs I liked (i.e. Pioneer Woman whom I love and want to be best friends with) and if I feel like really being challenged I will go to the Williams Sonoma website. Their stuff tends to be more complicated and time consuming, but the few things I’ve made from there have been worth it (including an apple pie I made for the Hubbster on Thanksgiving because he doesn’t like pumpkin pie. I find that fundamentally wrong, but I love him anyway).
But a lot of my cooking has come out of experimentation. That’s one of the really fun things about it. You can always tweak recipes, or take a few things you know how to make and try to put them together to make something delicious. That’s how this “recipe” of mine came about. It’s mostly made up of stuff you probably already have in your pantry/freezer/fridge, and it’s done in about 30 minutes! I’m making a full pound of pasta, and a really large chicken breast. This will feed the Hubbster and I and we will have leftovers for lunch. Feel free to adjust measurements to make less! But I like to have leftovers. It makes packing my purse for work in the morning a lot easier, and this reheats really well. Here goes nothin 🙂
This is what you need:
1 box angel hair pasta
1 large chicken breast (or more, depending on how much you feel)
broccoli (I use frozen baby broccoli florets, because they are the perfect size to mix in with other ingredients and I’m too lazy to use fresh broccoli)
roughly 2 cups of parmesan cheese (or any mixture of parmesan and a 6-cheese Italian blend. The blend gives it a little more depth of flavor)
2 1/2-3 cups of milk (I use skim)
2 1/2-3 tablespoons of butter
2 1/2-3 tablespoons of flour
my magic ingredient: McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning
The first thing you want to do is defrost your chicken if it’s frozen. If you’re using fresh chicken, congratulations. You don’t have to defrost it.
Then you want to start your water boiling for your pasta. If your stove is anything like mine, it will take a solid 15 minutes or more to get the water to boil, which is plenty of time to get everything else together. I hate my stove. When we are really grown ups and buy a house, the Hubbster wants to get one of those Electrolux stoves that boils water in 90 seconds. My only objection is that it’s an induction top, and 1) I like gas stoves, and 2) I want copper pots because they are pretty, and induction only works with stainless steel. That will be a fun bickering match in 5 years. I’m looking forward to it.
After you get your water boiling, grab a big pan and put it on the stove. This is the first thing we got off our wedding registry. It’s a Martha Stewart all purpose pan from Macy’s. We got her knife block, too. Martha just gets me. Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in it and put it on high heat.
While the pan is getting nice and hot, put your chicken on a cutting board and cut it down to smaller pieces. Then sprinkle it liberally with the Montreal Chicken seasoning. This stuff is so good. I also like to throw it on my chicken and shrimp when I make stir fry, too. It really adds a lot to the teriyaki sauce (but I’ll save that recipe for another time).
Throw some frozen broccoli in a bowl. It doesn’t really matter how much. That’s the beauty of cooking! If you really like broccoli (which I do) then put a lot in. I think this is about 2 cups. I also used the serving bowl that I’m going to put everything in at the end, because I’m all about using as few dishes as possible. Throw the broccoli in the microwave. You don’t have to cook it completely, but you should heat it up enough to make it un-frozen.
Now it’s time to cook the chicken. Throw it in the pan an use tongs to turn it over every few minutes so all sides get nice and brown. It’s going to start smelling good. Take a second to enjoy that.
When the chicken is mostly cooked, throw in the broccoli. Mix it around a bit and turn the heat down to low so it stays warm, but nothing burns. You can also throw some more montreal spices on the broccoli if ya like. I like.
We are going to start the cheese sauce, now. Aren’t you excited? 2 1/2-3 cups of sauce is a good amount for this recipe. If you like a lot of cheese sauce, do 3 cups. I do 2 1/2, because that’s how I roll. If you make 3, you will need 3 cups of milk, and 3 tbsp of butter and flour each.
The first thing to do is make the rue, which is made up of equal parts fat and flour and thickens the sauce. The fat in this case is butter. So melt the butter in a sauce pan. Then throw in equal parts flour, and stir until combined and there are no lumps.
Next, you want to pour in the milk. Pour it slowly and mix the rue in while you pour so there are no lumps in your sauce.
Now starts the epic milk-pouring adventure as documented by the Hubbster. He took a lot of pictures of me pouring the milk, so I wanted to include some of them. I spared you like 11. Enjoy.
K, we’re done pouring the milk now. And the water is finally boiling! Yay! Put your angel hair in the boiling water. Like so.
Grind some pepper into the cheese sauce. To keep it spicy!
Now it’s time to add the yummy stuff. The cheese. I think I ended up adding about 2 cups. I just throw it in there and stop when it seems like it’s at a good thickness. Be your own thickness judge.
Mix it all in. It will probably take a few minutes for it to melt. While you’re waiting for that, check to see if your pasta is done.
Hey look, it’s done! For all the pasta I’ve made in my lifetime, I’ve never actually thrown it on the wall before now. I always just eat a piece and decide that way. But I must say, it was quite the fun experience. I highly recommend it. Since it’s done and in a fun shape on my wall, it’s time to drain it!
Check and see if the cheese is all melted and sauce-like. If it is, pour it over your broccoli-chicken combo. All your burners should be off now. I don’t know why I feel the need to mention this, but I do.
You should be pretty hungry at this point. Put the pasta in a large serving bowl and pour the sauce-chicken-broccoli mixture over it. This bowl fits a little more than half of what I made. If you have a really big bowl, you can put it all in there!
Toss it with some tongs to get it all mixed up, and voila! You have a super yummy and flavorful dinner!