Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Pea Pasta

by Shawnda on February 9, 2015

in Brie,Mac & Cheese,Pasta, Rice, and Grains,Pork

Macaroni and Brie with Bacon and Peas

As much time as I’ve spent there over the last couple of years with my mom, you’d think I wouldn’t be so surprised. But I still am. How a hospital, a place with a core business model of healing and wellness, can have such awfully unhealthy food is beyond me.

I spent a week eating from bags, boxes, and coin-operated machines. And unless we’re counting Polynesian sauce as a vegetable, there were some days that I’m certain nothing I took a bite of ever grew in any ground.

But as we’re again returning to some sense of normalcy around here, heavy one house guest (hi mom!), I have returned to zoodling everything in sight and making magical melty cheese sauces. And for those who refuse to jump on my still-a-one-girl zoodle bandwagon, they get pasta with their magical melty cheese sauces. Real pasta.

Macaroni and Brie with Bacon and Peas

I mentioned before how I’ve been playing with sodium citrate for a few weeks. I took a house favorite, Bacon & Pea Macaroni and Cheese, and gave it a makeover with some creamy brie. The original recipe uses fat-free Greek yogurt, pasta water, and easy-melting cheeses to achieve a nice and creamy sauce.

But today’s recipe? It uses brie, milk, and a 1/2 tsp of that sodium citrate to achieve melty perfection. It’s macaroni and cheese with brie.

Macaroni & Brie with Bacon and Peas

Macaroni and Brie. Or at least it would have been if I’d had macaroni and brie. So Bowties & Brie it is! (And I’ll show you the Zoodles & Brie version soon.)

Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Pea Pasta

Make a creamy stovetop macaroni cheese sauce with brie, milk, and a little sodium citrate.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz pasta
  • 8 oz frozen peas
  • 8 oz wheel of brie
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 tsp sodium citrate
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. In the last two minutes of cooking, you'll add the peas to heat through.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, crisp up the bacon (I did it in the microwave) and prepare the brie.
  3. Use a spoon to scrape the white off the brie and then use a vegetable peeler to go around the edge of the wheel to remove the hardened rind.
  4. Cut the wheel in 8 wedges and use the peeler to make a quick pass over the top and bottom surfaces (don't try too hard, doesn't need to be perfect - you just want to minimize the hard portions).
  5. Cut the wedges into cubes.
  6. Drain the pasta and peas.
  7. Return the empty pot to the cooktop over medium heat, add the milk and sodium citrate, and stir to mix.
  8. Add the brie and stir occasionally at first, more frequently when it starts to melt.
  9. When the sauce is smooth, add the pasta and peas to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. If eating immediately, crumble the bacon into the pot. If not (and to prepare for leftovers), crumble the bacon over when serving so it doesn't get mushy.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

There’s also some broccoli in there, too. All the food groups represent: cheese, carbs, leftover protein, and green stuff. If that doesn’t scream balance, then I do not know if there’s help for you.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

With the coldest night since April on tap for us tonight – 44F, BRRRRR! – I wanted something warm and not-chili for dinner. I took the house – and Thanksgiving favorite – Cheesy Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole and grabbed a can of chipotles and that leftover shredded chicken in the fridge that needed to be eaten, like, yesterday.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

It’s still all the things you love about the traditional broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole: one baking dish, cheesy, gooey, not-very-pretty comfort food. But this version, it gets a little added kick from stirring a few tablespoons of minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce into the cheese sauce.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

It’s a little spicy. It’s still super cheesy. And insanely comforting.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

The cheesy comfort food favorite gets a spicy kick from chipotle peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups uncooked white rice (or enough to yield 3 cups cooked, check your package instructions)
  • 16 oz frozen chopped broccoli
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp minced chipotles in adobo sauce*
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover shredded chicken
  • *I put the entire can into a mini-chopper and mince and then save the leftovers in the fridge. Or freezer.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, cook the rice in water with a generous pinch of salt, according to package, directions and then set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  4. Whisk in the flour, onion, garlic, 2-3 tablespoons of minced chipotles (if you're sensitive to heat, start with 2), a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
  5. Let cook 1-2 minutes and then slowly add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Let the sauce simmer, reducing the heat if necessary, about 5 minutes until thickened and bubbling.
  7. Remove from heat, whisk in the cheddar a handful at a time until completely melted.
  8. Taste for spice/seasoning and add additional chipotles, salt, and pepper to taste.
  9. Add broccoli, rice, and chicken to the pot and mix well.
  10. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake ~35 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Notes

Yields: 8-12 servings

Adapted from Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa

Estimated time: 1 hour

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Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

This is the greatest restaurant ever, momma.

There are some points you just can’t argue against.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

Last week, Landry & I took a Mommy-Daughter day. A field-trip with her preschool class to a local farm, flu shots (because I am the epitome of fun), half-marathon packet pickup, and a trip to the Lego Store was capped off with a super late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.

Side note: The look of wonder on a sweet 4-year-old’s face after she discovers what’s hiding inside the fried mac & cheese far surpasses the magic of any five Christmas mornings.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

My very very favorite dish is the Chicken Bellagio. It is a wonderfully delicious calorie- and sodium-bomb of perfection. You have a half pound (or more) of pesto spaghetti topped with fried chicken cutlets, topped with prosciutto, topped with a simple arugula salad.

For $15, it feeds us 2 bigs and 1 little twice. But you can shave the calories and sodium and price down quite a bit at home without a lot of effort.

And you don’t have to put on pants or mascara to do it (though I do recommend wearing pants while cooking the chicken). (You know.) (Because splatters.)

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

You have three components here: the pasta, the chicken, and the salad. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time as you start cooking the chicken and with the exception of quickly tossing some salad greens with some olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan, everything should finish up at the same time.

Copycat Chicken Bellagio

A copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Bellagio. Make it at home and skimp on the calories, not the flavor.

Ingredients

  • For the pasta:
  • 8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream, optional*
  • For the chicken:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • For the salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Your favorite dark salad greens (I had a baby spinach-kale mix on hand)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Parmesan
  • *I was looking to lighten the dish and didn't want anything as heavy as cream in the recipe. The restaurant obviously uses a cream-based sauce - so if you want to go big, stir in a bit of heavy cream.

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and pour into a plate or small pan (I used an 8-inch sq baking dish).
  4. Mix together the panko, Italian seasoning, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese in another plate or small pan (I used a dinner plate).
  5. Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a large zipper bag (or between sheets of plastic wrap) and lightly pound a few times to even and thin them out (thin enough so that they cook quickly but not thin enough that you can see through them).
  6. Add flour to the zipper bag and shake to coat the chicken.
  7. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, flipping to coat.
  8. Press the chicken into the panko mixture and flip and press again. Transfer to another plate or pan and set aside, repeat for the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.
  9. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time you start the first two pieces of chicken in the frying pan.
  10. Cook the chicken two pieces at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, decreasing the heat a little if it browns too quickly.
  11. Before draining the pasta, pull out ~1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  12. Drain the pasta and return to the pan with half of the pasta water and the pesto. Toss until a creamy sauce forms, adding additional pasta water, as necessary.
  13. Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the chicken cutlets as they come out of the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  14. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.
  15. In a medium bowl, toss 4 handfuls of salad greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of 2 lemon wedges, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
  16. Divide between the 4 plates and enjoy. Without mascara. Pants also optional.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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