Creamy Chicken-Broccoli Mac & Cheese with Mushrooms with Birdwatching on the Side



  With this version of mac and cheese, you can eat all you like ~ there’s a helping of greens is in it, as in broccoli.  Broccoli is full of vitamins and minerals and is a classic example of a superfood. 



Actually, there has not been much cooking here lately, as Bill and I have been busy “birding" for a while ~ watching 2 bird nests in bushes on the side of our house; one, a nest of cardinals and the other, a nest of robins.  


Mama Robin

They’re busy little things and we love that they’re easy to watch.  It's amazing how both nests are built on the skinny branches right by the windows. The nests are quite a feat of engineering with no major tools, making a perfectly symmetrical, safe home for their young.

We had quite a thunderstorm a couple of days ago, the mothers hunkered down in their nests, faced the wind, and spread their wings over the eggs.  Seems like there should be babies any day now...

Speaking of storms, with them being in the forecast for today and the remainder of the week, it’s still chilly here and we’ve had more than our share of rain ~ close to 8.5” in May, when the average for the month is only 3 inches!  That makes it perfect weather for the good dish pictured at the top...

Add chicken for nourishing lean protein and mushrooms for more protein, B vitamins, and fiber.  In place of whole milk or cream, substitute fat-free evaporated milk and chicken broth. Want less fat in the dish, use low fat cheddar.



Don’t like broccoli?  Replace it with asparagus or peas.

I cooked chicken breasts in salted simmering water, then cooled the broth and strained off fat ~ use rotisserie chicken to speed up the process, if you like. 
 
Ready to bake...

It’s a healthier version, the options are endless, change it up your way!




But if you leave it like this, it’s really good and really good leftover too!


Creamy Chicken-Broccoli Mac & Cheese with Mushrooms
Printable recipe


Ingredients:
 
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1½ tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded, divided
2 (4-5 ounces) boneless skinless cooked chicken breast or thighs, cubed OR 2-3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
12 ounces fresh broccoli florets
Cooking spray


Method:
 
Preheat oven to 375°.
Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, until al dente or slightly undercooked, drain well.
Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, on low heat, melt butter, add onion and mushrooms, cook over low heat about 2 minutes.
Add flour, salt and pepper; combine well, cook another minute or so.
Slowly, add milk and chicken broth, whisking constantly.
Raise heat to medium high until it comes to a boil and sauce starts to thicken.
Remove from heat, add 8 ounces cheese, chicken, cooked macaroni and broccoli.
Spread in baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes until heated through.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and bake until melted.
Serve



Enjoy!

26 comments:

  1. The recipe looks great. I will try it substituting cauliflower for the pasta to keep it keto compliant.
    We have had cardinals nest right outside our windows before and you are spot on about watching them. I find it fascinating to see the nest building as well as the incubation and then tending to the tiny ones.

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  2. Thanks, Anne! Cauliflower would be great in keeping with your plan, I'll have to try that now! Love the birds, I check on the nests every chance I get, we both love watching them! 😊

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  3. The stuff on your plates make my mouth water. At the end of this week we have 'Shavuot' holiday when our dishes are mostly dairy based ; it's a feast for the cheese lovers among us.
    Bird watching can indeed be fascinating, especially if you have a pair of binoculars. Some people also bring microphones to record the birds' chirping.

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  4. Thanks, Duta! A cheese lovers feast sounds great to me. I use binoculars also. Have a good week!

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  5. Hi Pam, If only I could convince my better half to eat broccoli! She'd never let me put it in mac 'n cheese, one of her favorites. I might get away with asparagus or peas though. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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    Replies
    1. Ha, good luck, Dave! This is really good and it would be good with her favorite veggie too. Have a good day!

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  6. Mac and cheese -- really appealing, whatever you add to it. Broccoli does seem like a good idea.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mae! Mac and cheese is great, we don't have it often but love it when we do. Take care

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  7. all you have to say is Macaroni and I'm in!! What could be more tasty than Macaroni, broccoli and cheese. YUM!

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    Replies
    1. I hear you, Shug! There are a lot of us mac and cheese lovers. Thanks!

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  8. Mac and cheese with broccoli sound like a perfect combo for a comforting and delicious meal. So yummy!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Angie! It is comfort food for sure. Have a good rest of the week!

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  9. Pam, that's a mighty good looking mac & cheese dish and one we'll try as soon as it cools off here again. It's in the low 80's here today, it's not supposed to be this hot in June in Sweden.
    We too have been watching a bird hatch. Our's were black European thrush (think black robin) and they flew the coop just this past weekend. Amazing how fast they grow up.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ron! It's great watching the birds. She is still on the nest and it has to be any day now that they hatch. We had another storm and the nest dropped down a few branches safely and intact, still easy to see from the window too. Thanks, and have a good day, seems like the weather is a little crazy everywhere!

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  10. Looks very good Pam and great way to make M&C healthier.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Larry! Broccoli must make everything healthier. 😊

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  11. Great looking dish! Who doesn't like mac 'n cheese? And this version not only is healthier, I'll bet it tastes better. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, John! It tastes great, perfect for any mac and cheese lover. Have a good rest of the week!

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  12. I love the idea of one pot meal, and this ones comes packed with delicious ingredients...creamy is the magic work for me...love it Pam. Have a wonderful weekend!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Juliana! One pot meals are fantastic! Take care

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  13. I’m copying your recipe as it does sound good, thanks. It would be too much for me to eat alone but I’ll make it when my grandchildren come over.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Vagabonde! I'm glad you like it and that you stopped by. Thanks!

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  14. Yum! Love that each serving has veggies, chicken, pasta and cheese! The whole family will love it!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz! Something for everyone. take care

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  15. Oh yum, casseroles are so good, especially with chicken☺

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  16. I needed something to take to a party Sunday and this is perfect everyone love cheese wow! nice one Pam!

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You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
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You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook

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