It's back to school time at our house! My daughter Abby started on Monday, my husband Geoff started Tuesday, and my little Lizzy started yesterday. I'm really excited to get back to our usual routine after a summer of chaos and constantly changing schedules, but it was a little hard to send Abby off to school and realize she's so big now! Lizzy spent the whole day Monday moping that her playmate was off at school, and kept asking me if it was time to pick up Abby yet. To celebrate the new milestone of second grade (I can't even believe it!) on Sunday night I made some of Abby's favorites for dinner. This cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta was a hit (as always)! I make some version of homemade mac and cheese for the girls at least once a week, and this is one of my favorite variations. It has so much going for it: it's a super easy, flavorful, one-pot meal that's ready in less than 30 minutes! Plus it's a good way to make those veggies a little more enticing (what doesn't taste better covered in cheese sauce?).
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
1/2 pound dry pasta (I used gemelli, but pretty much any shape would work great)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
3/4 - 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
Cook pasta according to package directions. Add the broccoli during the last few minutes of cooking time. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Let cook 2-3 minutes until golden. Gradually add the milk, whisking so there are no lumps. Let cook for a few minutes until thickened, then gradually add the chicken broth, continuing to whisk constantly. Whisk in the salt and pepper, then let the mixture cook for a few minutes, until thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese until melted. Toss with the drained pasta and broccoli and the chicken. Return to heat and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through.