Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese (30-Minute Meal!)

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Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese is creamy, cheesy, and ready in just 30 minutes!

Well, despite getting spanked by Notre Dame, and randomly getting my car window bashed in, I think Ben’s 30th birthday weekend in Chicago was a smashing (pun intended) success! :D

We have tons of friends in Chicago and in 2 short days were able to hang out with almost all of them, drinking good beer, eating great food, and celebrating Ben’s big day. :)

Saturday morning Ben went one way with his buddies, while I went another with my besties, then we all reconvened later that afternoon for tacos and beers before heading out to the main event – Miami vs Notre Dame at Soldier Field.

(click once, than once again on the next page to see big panoramic photo)

Ben was JACKED!

We filed into the stadium, found our seats, then chanted and cheered alongside the other Miami fans with our $8.50 beers until the fireworks exploded overhead, and the game kicked off. Whee!

(click once, than once again on the next page to see big panoramic photo)

It was FREEZING, but so exciting and surreal to be watching the team Ben’s been obsessed with for nearly 20 years in person. Plus, being in a NFL stadium cannot be beat – there’s not a bad seat in the house.

Unfortunately, just as quickly as our beer tab went up, Miami’s ball game came down. ( ↓ Not pleased…)

Blame it on bad calls, cold hands, or just an off night, but it was clear about 20 minutes in that this was not going to be Miami’s game. SO SAD! I think the face of the most die hard Miami fan I may ever meet in the right hand corner of the pic below pretty much says it all. (And please compare it to her face in the first panoramic photo. Priceless!)

(click once, than once again on the next page to see big panoramic photo)

The cherry on the top was when we found my car window had been bashed in overnight, on Sunday morning as we were leaving. Really, vandal?

Luckily nothing was stolen, which is oddly annoying, and one cardboard box, a wine bag, and roll of duct tape later we were ready to rock the 5+ hour drive home in style. BAHAHA. I was embarrassed for about half a minute. What are you going to do?

Truly though, despite the loss of both the game and my car’s window, and, ok, our dignity on the road home, we had an awesome time in Chicago. The window can be fixed (quickly, actually – Safelite’s coming today!) and most importantly, Ben had a blast turning 30.

Plus we actually made it home in good time (apparently a cardboard box duct taped to your window doesn’t produce as much drag as I thought,) and wrapped up the weekend by eating takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant in our PJs on the couch. It was a perfect way to wrap up a crazy weekend!

In true ‘just getting home from vacation’ fashion, I was trying to think of something really quick and easy to make for dinner tonight, as I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store yet, and remembered a yummy, 30-minute meal I made a few weeks ago that I haven’t shared yet: Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese.

Large macaroni noodles, sauteed chicken, and fresh broccoli are tossed in a luscious, light and creamy sauce that does not get any simpler to make, and tastes totally gourmet. Only you and I will know that it’s made with 99% fridge and pantry staples, and takes 30-minutes (or less) to make. Shhh! Tell ‘em ya’ slaved! ;)

Start the Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese by dropping 8oz large macaroni noodles into salted, boiling water. I know I say this all the time, but adding 1-2 teaspoons of salt to pasta water when it boils adds sooooo much flavor to the pasta. Try it once and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

When the pasta has about 3 minutes left to cook, drop in 3 cups small broccoli florets, then drain everything and set it aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add 2 teaspoons cooking oil. We’re going to stir in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes in a bit so I used the oil from the SDT jar, but you can use whatever you want.

Add 2 chicken breasts that have been chopped into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper, then saute until they’re cooked through and remove to a plate.

K. Onto that rich and creamy (gourmet tasting!) sauce. In the same skillet as the chicken, add 6oz Laughing Cow Light Cheese, which is all 6 wedges. Laughing Cow Cheese is a DREAM – so creamy and flavorful, but only 35 calories per wedge. I love it with crackers, and in this mac!

Next add in 3/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Let the cheese melt and the sauce bubble until everything is thick and melty. YUM!

Finally, add in the cooked chicken, noodles, and broccoli, then toss everything to combine.

Dinner is served!

Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Slightly adapted from BHG.com

Ingredients:
8oz large macaroni noodles
3 cups small broccoli florets
2 large chicken breasts (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized pieces
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons oil (I used oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
6oz Laughing Cow Lite Cheese Wedges (I used Garlic & Herb)
3/4 – 1 cup milk
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Add broccoli to the pot 3 minutes before noodles are done cooking, then drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add cheese, milk, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then stir until cheese is melted, and sauce is thick. Add cooked chicken, noodles, and broccoli to the skillet then stir well to combine. Add more milk if sauce isn’t creamy enough, then serve.

This is total comfort food, but so stinking easy, and much lighter than traditional macaroni & cheeses.

Laughing Cow has a ton of different flavors to customize this dish to your tastes, too. I used Garlic Herb, but was mighty tempted by the Sun-dried Tomato Basil flavor. Go with your gut though! :)

Hope you enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Courtney F 10.08.2012

    Printed this bad boy out as soon as I could! Can’t wait to try this, now that the temperature is dropping!

  2. Ana 10.08.2012

    I always buy that cheese, but I never thought of using it with pasta! Thanks for the tip, I’ll use it tonight!

    And I feel your pain, the Packers had the most awful game this weekend ;-(
    But nothing beats the energy at a ball game, it is always fun! Our dream is to watch the Packers play at Lambeau field.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your window!! That really stinks. Glad y’all had a great weekend otherwise.

  4. sharon weaver 10.08.2012

    I am so going to try this. I love everything in this dish..

  5. ChristyV 10.08.2012

    The window thing totally bites, but love that you didn’t let the bad outweigh the good! Can’t wait to try the recipe.

  6. it looks like you had a great time minus the car window! people can be stupid! Luckily they didn’t steal anything! I just pinned that recipe! it looks so delicious!

  7. Erica 10.08.2012

    Were you at Big Star for Tacos? I could tell right away from the picture! I love that place in the summer! Sorry about your car window :(

  8. Sounds like a great weekend! Sorry to hear about your car window – a few weeks ago my side mirror was kicked off in the middle of the night, sitting right outside of my house! $400 later, I was NOT pleased. I can somewhat understand breaking something to steal, but to break something just for the sake of it?! So annoying!

  9. Sorry to hear about your window – that’s so lame! Glad you guys had a good time otherwise and Ben had a great birthday!

  10. Alexis 10.08.2012

    so sorry to hear about your car window! i got backed into in the airport parking lot last week (on the way OUT, on a 6 am flight, so i got to think of it the whole time i was working) and car issues can be such a pain.

    ben’s face in the first game picture is great, obviously SO pumped to see his favorite team.. what a good wifey you are :)

    this broccoli-mac looks AMAZING and i can’t wait to make it.

    have a good week! (this comment was ridiculous, everyone loves a little light reading to end their monday)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      I loved the light reading. ;) And UGH, that would actually be torture having to think about your poor car all dinged up while you’re out of town! Hopefully it was able to be fixed quickly!

  11. Kate 10.08.2012

    I recognize Big Star tacos! A great spot in Chicago :)

  12. Cher @ Weddicted 10.08.2012

    Wow – you seem in good spirits considering the window smash thing! I would be so angry! Good for you.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      I know, I was oddly zen. I think it’s just because there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. Drive home and be PO’d for five hours, or move on, I suppose!

  13. Julie 10.08.2012

    Do you have any recommendations for freezing and reheating mac and cheese?

  14. Denise 10.08.2012

    I am so sorry about your window, but glad that they didn’t destroy the car or anything in it. Strange, don’t ya think? Break in and take nothing??? Oh well, This is on my menu for this week for sure ! I don’t have any tomatoes but I do have bottled sundried red peppers. That should work don’tchya think ?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      I know – it looked like they didn’t even search the front of the car! Just a senseless smash and (attempt to) grab. Blerg!

  15. Sara N. 10.08.2012

    Sorry to hear about your car! What a bummer. This mac & cheese looks like a comforting helper. I love the idea of the Laughing Cow cheese. Great swap!

  16. Yeah……..I live in the Ravenswood neighborhood (next to the mayor actually) and car windows get smashed all the time. Some are up on bricks. You leave anything in your car they will smash your windows. Not sure where you stayed, but its a common occurrence even in the best neighborhoods.

    • I meant to say some cars are up on bricks………when they get their tires stolen.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      I know I was surprised too. Of all the places I’ve ever stayed in Chicago, this would be the last place I figured it would happen – a really nice neighborhood in Wicker Park.

      • Jodie 10.09.2012

        I love Wicker Park and sadly it happens there as well! Also Big Star!!! Yippie!!!

  17. nosogirl 10.08.2012

    Wow, who would have thought to use Laughing Cow cheese? Definitely helps to cut down on the fat, that’s for sure. Can’t wait to try this. I have family coming in and I think this would be a nice, casual dinner.

  18. Looks like a fun Bday (minus the window mishap)! Love this lighter mac and cheese recipe! :) :)

  19. Elaine 10.08.2012

    This looks like the perfect cold fall weather comfort dish!!

  20. Chloe 10.08.2012

    Bad luck on the window I definitely wouldn’t be as calm as you if someone smashed my window for no reason haha.
    I would love to make this recipe but we don’t have laughing cow cheese in Australia :( at least not where I live any way (middle of the desert).

  21. This looks great! I’ve never tried Laughing Cow products before

  22. Kathleen Welch 10.09.2012

    That looks so good ….adding that to the menu this week ! Thanks for all of your great ideas !

  23. Rebekah 10.09.2012

    Awesome recipe! I’m always trying to add veggies to everything that is considered dangerous comfort food =) I’m sorry about your Miami crew… but being a Notre Dame grad I’m so excited for my team this year! Its been a while since I’ve gotten this pumped about our team. Sorry about your window too… Mine was broken out by some kids who were “having fun”?? when my doors were unlocked too! Nothing was taken, but they left duct tape??

  24. Manon 10.09.2012

    Somehow I loooooove laughing cow, but never thought to use it in mac n cheese?!?!?! Bless you, child :)

  25. Dara @how_to_eat 10.09.2012

    This looks fantastic and perfect for the weeknight rush! Do you think I could substitute tofu for the chicken?

  26. Jen W 10.09.2012

    I just love this recipe and will probably make it this weekend since I’ve got all but the cheese in my pantry! I’m glad you had a great time in Chicago, but that sucks about the window. What a jerk!

    Also, I must say that I LOVE the spoon in your pictures. I happen to also own the red smiley face spoon. I feel like it makes all of my dishes better.

    Happy cooking!

  27. Sorry to hear about your window! That really stinks. That mac and cheese looks amazing! Such a good idea!

  28. Hannah 10.09.2012

    This looks DELICIOUS and I admire your positive spirit after the window smash. I’m going to have to try this out…I’m always looking for lower calorie/healthier comfort foods.

    p.s. I absolutely love your blog.

  29. Tina 10.09.2012

    We are also die hard Miami fans (from Oklahoma!) What a fabulous way to spend your 30th birthday! Miami came out strong and I thought they could have won or hung closer, but we are looking stronger! Just gotta work on D. And no more dropped passes! Sorry to hear about your window. People are so mean. Glad it didn’t ruin the weekend. Thanks for the post and let’s go Miami this upcoming weekend against the Tar Heels!

  30. Glad you guys had a great time despite the loss and the window incident….bummer! The pasta looks delish and I love the addition of the sun-dried tomatoes.

  31. Krista 10.09.2012

    Bummer about your car window but I love your attitude about it! Wondering what your fave Chinese take out restaurant in the area is? I love Iron Wok on Mills Civic.

  32. Theresa 10.09.2012

    I love the cream fleece you’re wearing in the second picture in this post- who makes it?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      Thanks! Jeans and that top (from Old Navy) are seriously my fall and winter uniform…!

  33. Amber 10.09.2012

    I have NEVER thought to do anything with laughing cow besides spread it on things. You just opened up a whole new world for me!!!

  34. Life's a Bowl 10.09.2012

    This looks delic! I just pinned it and Ben’s picture was the pin, I couldn’t change it haha :P

    P.S. That totally sucks about your car, major buzz kill, but at least y’all still made the best of the trip!

  35. Safelight repair, safelite replace! Haha oh no, now that jingle is going to be stuck in my head all day :(

    Did you get the iPhone 5? I’ve been taking panoramas of EVERYTHING since I got mine!

    This looks so good and so simple! I really need to get into Laughing Cow wedges…

  36. Evelien 10.09.2012

    It sounds delicious! But I was wondering, since we don’t have The Laughing Cow – Garlic and Herbs over here in Belgium, if you could also use Philadelphia – Garlic and Herbs for the sauce?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.09.2012

      It might! I would thin it out with a bit more milk though, as cream cheese is a bit thicker than the Laughing Cow wedges.

  37. Alison 10.09.2012

    Such a yummy recipe – I made it right after seeing it last night. Thanks for another great one!

  38. Kelly 10.09.2012

    This is probably a silly question – does it matter what kind of milk we use? (i.e. Whole vs. 2% vs. Skim?) Love your site!! <3 :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.10.2012

      You can just use whatever you have in the fridge – I used skim!

      • Kelly 10.10.2012

        Thanks! Made it tonight – and omg SO GOOD!!

  39. Kendra 10.10.2012

    I love your blog and read it regularly. I find your recipes simple and usually made from things that i have on hand. I read this post yesterday and was obsessed with the idea of having it for dinner. I even had broccoli on hand that I needed to use up. Or so I thought!! I got home and it turns out, no broccoli. I did have a red pepper though. So I made a quick sauce from goat cheese and light cream with a little bit of garlic (OK, a lot of garlic) sauteed the red pepper and threw in some leftover chicken. Delish!! Totally NOT your recipe, but totally inspired by your recipe. So thank you! :-)

  40. Andrea 10.10.2012

    OMGH, made this last night, it’s one of the best recipe’s I have ever tried!! Thanks!

  41. Jamie 10.10.2012

    I would have never thought of making a cheese sauce out of those wedges! DUH. I’m making this for dinner tonight and let me tell you, I am literally *THIS* excited! I haven’t had mac and cheese in aaaaaaaageeeeeees but with this healthy method I have no problem with it!

  42. Dana Hobbs 10.10.2012

    Oh my word! I made this tonight with Green Bean Casserole as a side dish…and it was amazing! We are all stuffed! My 13-year old son, who is somewhat picky, ate two plates full!
    Thank you for sharing!

  43. Josioe 10.11.2012

    I made this last night…incredible! Even my picky son loved it!

  44. aneta 10.11.2012

    You are a genius !!! <3 <3 your blog !

  45. Kaitlin 10.11.2012

    Made this recipe tonight and it was so good. Cooking the chicken in the sun dried tomato oil is a great idea!

  46. [...] broccoli-chicken mac & cheese [it's officially on the "repeat" [...]

  47. [...] Recipe Courtesy of http://iowagirleats.com/ [...]

  48. Hina 10.15.2012

    Love this recipe! Especially since I have a bunch of laughing cow in my fridge from my costco trip…Would you recommend any substitutions for the sun-dried tomatoes? I have so many jars of stuff in my fridge and I’d hate to add to my collection. I have a jar of roasted red peppers…would those work?

  49. Samantha 10.15.2012

    I made this tonight & it was delicious! I am not a fan of sun-dried tomatoes so I substituted artichoke hearts & they worked great! Another great use for Laughing Cow.. my addiction continues :)

  50. [...] so I thought. This Cheesy Shells & Broccoli recipe is inspired by the Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese over on Iowa Girl Eats. The woman is a genius. Seriously! Although, the only foreign object I like [...]

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