With all this cold weather sometimes what you need is a warm, cheesy, filling pasta bake.  Corrie loves southwestern/mexican flavors…so, that’s what I made!  I think you could easily make this without chicken for vegetarians (maybe just add in a few more veggies like peppers, peas, or mushrooms – if you like mushrooms that is…bleech!)  But anyways, just wanted to throw that out there since I love/adore/worship/could live next door to for the rest of my life a certain vegetarian aka my brother!  He’s pretty darn awesome…okay…back to the pasta!

I made two changes – one I used an entire 12 oz. of pasta – reflected below, because I had two half boxes, and I hate that.  Messes with my organization…literally.  Speaking of, my pantry is seriously unorganized right now and it’s driving. me. crazy.   Okay, one more random side note…I read some organizing blogs, because I love organizing, but I mean really, anyone can organize two boxes of cereal and 5 cans in a full-size pantry.  I am a I always have a back-up/one waiting in the wings kind of girl.  Who can do any real cooking without having to run to the store to shop for every meal with 15 things in your pantry?!?  Same thing for toiletries.  Who has 2 rolls of toilet paper in their house and no back-up shampoo, deodorant, or toothbrush?  What do I do if I run out of toothpaste? What do you do? If you have this problem, are your teeth unbrushed?

Anyways….the other change was I doubled the flour so I could use skim milk, and I still thought it was tasty plus cuts out a few extra calories. 😉  The unsaid third change was that I obviously added more cheese…duh.  Some leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken would make this easy peas-y for those who are going the carnivore route and a great warm dinner for after work.  Will it ever be light again at 6:30?

Queso Chicken Pasta   Serves 4-6

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon flour (I used 2 tablespoons.)
  • 1 1/3 cup milk, 2% or higher (I used skim.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 6 ounces colby-jack cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup drained Ro*Tel tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken

Preheat oven to 350 F, and spray a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but reduce the cooking time by two minutes.

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Once the oil begins to shimmer add the onion, garlic and jalapeño.  Cook until it begins to soften, about three minutes.  Add the cumin, coriander and salt and cook for an additional two minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.

Add the flour and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly, until all the flour is moist.  Gradually whisk in the milk and stir until smooth.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken.

Turn off the heat, and add the cream cheese and 4 ounces of the shredded cheese and whisk until melted.  Stir in the Ro*Tel tomatoes.  Add the pasta and stir to combine.

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish.   Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pasta is bubbly and the cheese has melted.  Let stand five minutes before serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from Evil Shenanigans