The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Mexican Macaroni Casserole

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Level: Easy

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Description

This yummy casserole is packed full of veggies, chicken and cheese. Use reduced fat Velveeta to lower the fat and calories. The cheese sauce and the tomatoes help to mellow (but not mask) the flavor of the processed cheese, but if you love that flavor you can go ahead and use all Velveeta. Leave the chicken out to make a healthy vegetarian meal.

This makes 4 generous servings or 6 smaller servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • 4 ounces, weight Mushrooms, Quartered
  • ½ whole Red Bell Pepper , Medium Dice
  • 1 bag Fresh Baby Spinach, A Bag Is 6 Ounces
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1-½ cup Grated Cheese, Such As Cheddar, Swiss, Fontina
  • 8 ounces, weight Reduced Fat Velveeta Cheese, Cut Into Cubes
  • 1 can Rotel Diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies, A Can Is 10 Ounces (stewed Tomatoes Can Be Substituted)
  • ¾ boxes Penne Pasta, A Box Is 16 Ounces
  • 3 cups Cooked Chicken Shredded
  • 2 whole Scallions, Chopped
  • ½ cups Crushed Tortilla Chips

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper. Sauté until the veggies are soft, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the spinach to the skillet and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. When all the spinach has wilted down, remove the pan from the heat. Set to the side.
4. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
5. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a 3 quart sauce pan. Then whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook, while whisking for about 3 minutes.
6. Slowly whisk the milk into the flour butter mixture.
7. When the milk is hot, whisk in the cheeses.
8. When the cheeses have melted, stir the Rotel chilies and tomatoes into the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and set to the side.
9. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta for only 6 minutes. Then drain the water off the pasta and keep the pasta in the pot.
10. If your chicken is cold, then just heat it through (put it in the microwave for a minute or two, just until warmed).
11. Stir the cooked veggies, cheese sauce, chicken and scallions into the pasta.
12. Pour the pasta into about an 8 x 11 x 2 inch casserole dish, top with the crushed tortilla chips, and bake for 30 minutes.

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