Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating
So, let’s be real here. When I posted a pic of this mac n’ cheese on my Instagram feed, it caused a bit of a commotion. I can only assume that it’s because it LOOKS SO TOTALLY MAC’D UP. Everyone was up in arms as to why I didn’t post the recipe ASAP. I even received countless texts and messages as to WHEN they could get their hands on this recipe.
Here’s my story (or excuse for lack of a better explanation). In my wonderful world of food blogging, I never have enough time on my hands to sit around and twiddle my thumbs. Which is why I sometimes lag behind in writing this blog or getting a recipe posted as fast as lightning. Having said that, my blog and managing my social media channels have morphed into a full time career with a caveat.
And that is…….I already have a full time career in the public sector. Yes, you heard me right. TWO FULL TIME JOBS.
This makes it very challenging for me to always be on top of things, especially posting recipes like the one you see here.
You always see me very active on my Instagram feed and that’s because I don’t want my followers to “forget” about Simply Beautiful Eating. Dealing with the stupidity of algorithms and all the craziness behind post engagement or lack thereof, it’s become a big, bad world of keeping up with other social media influencers.
So, how do I manage a full time job with a full time side gig? Simple.
IT’S NOT EASY.
I’m going to have the opportunity to speak on this subject at the Alt Summit coming up in March 2019. I will be laying it all out as to how I manage to do everything I do and still remain ALIVE.
All jokes aside, it will be an informative presentation. I’m going to help guide those of us who just can’t take the plunge. I will discuss the risks associated with giving up one of those full time careers while replacing it with another.
And now, back to this MAC. I tend to lean towards dishes that are super easy to do, with very few ingredients. This recipe only uses one pot (and a frying pan) but has a few more ingredients than I usually mess with. The point I’m trying to make here is this……..DO NOT BE AFRAID to venture into Mac n’ Cheese Land. Not only does it look totally tantalizing (T.T.) it’s so flavourful that you are going wish this recipe was in your life sooner.
The only tip I have to say is – make it and serve it. Not that the leftovers are not good, because trust me, I had lots and it kept showing up in my lunch bag for a few days. It’s just better served hot and gooey straight from the stove.
I’ve told you this before, but living with a food blogger is a big pain in the butt. I make most of my recipes in the early afternoon so that I can take advantage of that magical light that streams into my living room from about 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This results in reheating the dish at dinner time. Poor Steve. He is so patient and understanding. The majority of the time, he eats food that has been sitting around but still safe to eat. In other words, it’s like having leftovers before they are legally labelled “leftovers”.
I think I’ve talked WAAAAY too much and I know you are anxiously awaiting this recipe (if you haven’t already scrolled down). Here you go. The be all and end all Mac n’ Cheese recipes is below. You’re welcome.
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (or you can use 6 boneless & skinless chicken thighs)
Salt and pepper, to season
½ teaspoon cajun spice
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon dried parsley
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
½ sweet onion, diced (I always use Vidalia)
3 cloves garlic, minced
9 oz (250g) jar sundried tomatoes in oil (note* reserve 2 tablespoons of oil and drain the rest)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2½ cups (divided) organic chicken stock/ broth (homemade or store bought)
3½ cups milk (I used cashew but you can use ANY milk - full fat is recommended for extra creaminess)
2 teaspoons dried lemon pepper seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
10 ounces (300g) pasta (I used 3 cups of dry mini macaroni)
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¾ cup old (sharp) cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
additional salt and pepper to taste
Season chicken with salt, pepper, cajun spice, paprika, dried parsley and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Rub all sides of the chicken so it's nicely coated.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown. Lower heat, cover and let the chicken thoroughly cook until it's no longer pink on the inside. Transfer chicken to a warm plate, cover with foil and set aside.
To a large pot, add the butter and fry the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent, constantly stirring for about two minutes.
Pour in ½ cup of chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the sun dried tomatoes with the reserved two tablespoons of the sun dried tomato oil from the jar and cook for another two minutes.
Stir the flour into the pot and allow to cook for one more minute. Then, add the remaining broth, three cups of milk, lemon pepper and additional salt and pepper.
Bring to a slow boil and add the dry pasta and stir occasionally. Reduce heat down to medium and stir occasionally while it cooks for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken and you want the pasta cooked. Add the spinach and stir through until wilted, about a minute or two.
Take the pot off the stove and stir all of the cheeses in quickly. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce it too thick, add the remaining ½ cup milk. Keep in mind, the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools so serving it immediately is KEY.
Slice the chicken into strips and place on top of the pasta. Serve straight from the stove and enjoy!