The lights are going up, the carols are playing everywhere, the kids are getting restless from all their excitement, and the shopping malls are packed with gleeful shoppers. It’s such a magical time of year, but it’s also busy to an extreme.
Basically, the Christmas season is in full swing and, I don’t not know about you, but I am not exactly ready with my shopping, menu planning, Christmas movie marathoning, and all the other stuff. I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and guess that most of you guys are not finished yet either. I hope so, because I still have a long list of things to get before it’s too late and if I’m not alone it doesn’t feel so lame.
Oh, and now that I’m already on the tangent of thinking about the speedy pace of these last few weeks of the year, guess what? I’ve been working on this year’s gingerbread house! I know, so exciting right? I honestly wanted to have it done already but now my goal is to hopefully get it done by the weekend. Okay, so even that may not happen because I’m still in the planning stage.
Eh hem, I um, sort of get really into my annual gingerbread house, ask any member of my gang and they’ll tell you. Haha, actually they’d probably warn you not to mess with me during my gingerbread-ing. Luckily, the past two years I’ve discovered how much less stressful it is to make it over the course of a few days rather than trying to cram it all into one like I used to do. At the end of the day that method is just too much of a headache and then I am never satisfied with the final house. Stretching it is so much better.
Anyway, with all the rush going on I think we all find that certain go-to comfort foods can be lifesavers right about now. At least, that’s the way I see it and that’s why I have been resorting to some super easy dinners during the week. This pasta is one of them. It’s something that I first made a few months ago just for the family, not for the blog, but it was such a major crowd pleaser so I changed my mind. Really, the guys pretty much flipped the first time I made it and then I was asked to make it a few more times soon after.
One of the best parts about it, I think, is that it is a very minimal dish meal. In fact, if you have a large cast iron skillet or another pan that will fit in your oven, you could do it all in just that. I’m telling you, this one is a win win. OOOooh, and you all know what comes right after the holidays right? Uh huh, say hello to the best Superbowl party food ever!
If you want to make this more or less spicy it’s no big deal at all to adapt it to your personal taste. Just back of the hot sauce a bit and skip the red pepper flakes in the topping if you are not a big fan spicy food, or if you are into it then dump in the hot stuff to your heart’s (and taste bud’s) content.
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 4 cups whole milk, divided
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce (or another favorite hot sauce)
- 2 tablespoons worchestershire
- 400g elbow (or any shape) uncooked pasta noodles
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into pieces
- 100g (about 1/2 cup) blue cheese crumbles
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 dry breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Grease small casserole pan (such as an 8x8 or a 7x11) with butter or oil and line a baking tray with foil. Heat the oil in a large skillet or shallow pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and red bell pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until softened.
- Whisk the flour and 2 cups of milk in a glass or bowl until smooth and pour into pan. Bring to a boil, while stirring often, and continue cooking until it begins to just thicken. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cream, red hot sauce, worchestershire, and pasta noodles. Cover pan with lid and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the blue cheese, chicken, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into your prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula to fill the pan. Place the pan on your baking tray and pour the other 2 cups of milk over the pasta, slowly so that it doesn't run out. (If the 2 cups seems like too much for your pan size then just use as much as you can without you it spilling over.)
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it's hot and bubbly, then remove from oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan, breadcrumbs, and red pepper flakes if desired, then place the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes until the top is golden and toasty and the pasta is hot.