The apple does not fall far from the tree and in the case a smile comes across my face as I think about it. I think as parents we face a lot of challenges in trying to ensure we raise good eaters. Good eaters can be a term to describe a variety of types of people. Someone who is not picky, someone who eats healthy, or to some the individual who cleans their plate. However you chose to define it, as a dietitian, mom, and self proclaimed foodie, I never thought about or worried about ” what if my kid will not eat it.” I am not sure why as I think about food constantly, so why during those months of breast feeding Little Miss Mixture was I not concerned? Here I was given her some of the best nutrition she could have to start her life and what if she refuses to eat the food I actually make.
Well I just have to sigh and admit I am glad I never stressed over that and still continue not to for the most part. Don’t get me wrong Little Miss Mixture is a kid and at times there is no rhyme or reason to what she will or will not eat. And yes she loves snack food and junk food, but then again that could be another inherited trait, so I cannot fault her. I can only guide her as I guide myself to balance healthy meals, snacks, and treats as well.
As I referenced in my about me, I have always been a recipe ripper, collector, etcetera, in the modern world of today that would be a blog reader, recipe pinner. Little Miss Mixture has developed these habits early as well. She is constantly looking over my shoulder when I am reading magazines or looking at stuff and commenting on how that looks good. Typically she refers to sweets first but on occasion it has been pretty much anything. She might be more of a food gawker than myself as her comments are directly related to the food pictures rather than the recipes. But time will tell.
Recently we had time to kill between activities and we were looking through a new Cooking Light magazine. As usual Little Miss Mixture had quite a bit to say, but I noticed she was not just referring to the pictures but rather reading all the recipe titles and letting me know I should make that. As the day went on and she referenced a couple of the recipes when I began speaking about our evening meal, I realized she had given me a great challenge. Rather than ripping and pinning and never actually making the items, I would create a “to try list.” This is actually not my first attempt at these as I have made list in the past, but I feel as if this time I might be more accountable if I publish it.
While I am working on organizing the list into categories I am going to share the first recipe Little Miss Mixture requested – Chicken Broccoli Mac & Bacon. A one pot skillet meal which is perfect for a weeknight. At times I am not sure what intrigues LIttle Miss Mixture as she has been known to be the typical kid getting Mac & Cheese at a restaurant or trying something such as calamari for her entree. In this case I knew what caught her eye – Bacon. Little Miss Mixture loves bacon and will in fact try anything with it. Thus the night she ordered bacon wrapped dates off the menu. The dates were great and enjoyed by all but she did not order the appetizer because she likes dates. In fact she is not a huge fan but eats them without realizing in some snacks and smoothies.
So here it goes. I made Chicken Broccoli Mac & Cheese with Bacon early one day as our schedule was busy. I found it easy to prepare in advance up until the last step. This also allowed me to taste as I went and enhance the seasoning as I have found lot of cooking light recipes to be very good, but I also have found some to be too bland for our taste. With the new recipes as I try them I will also include how they were accepted – will they be added to our recipe book or not.
Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon
8 oz. uncooked noodles (original recipe calls for elbow. I used whole grain rotini)
1 head organic broccoli
3 slices bacon
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken cut into 1” pieces
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp. garlic
3/4 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups milk
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup plus 1 tsp. flour
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese
1. Prepare your ingredients – wash and cut the florets off the broccoli head. Shred your cheese, mince your garlic, and cut chicken into pieces.
2.Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli to pot during last 2 minutes. Drain.
3. While pasta is cooking, place bacon in oven proof skillet over medium high and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan to reserve for later, leaving drippings in the pan.
4. Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add turmeric, garlic powder, and black pepper and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently.
5. Combine ½ tsp. salt, milk, stock and flour and whisk together. Add milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add pasta and broccoli to the pan and sprinkle with 2 oz of shredded cheese. Stir to ensure all items are coated.
*If serving immediately you will want to turn the broiler on high at this time and proceed to step # 6. If preparing ahead of time refer to step # 7.
6. Sprinkle remaining cheese over dish and crumble bacon into pieces and sprinkle over top as well. Place ovenproof skillet in the oven and broil until cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve and enjoy.
7. Cover skillet and refrigerate until 30 minutes before ready to serve. Remove skillet and allow to come to room temperature on stovetop over a low burner. Meanwhile preheat oven to broil. Once casserole is warm sprinkle with remaining cheese and crumble the reserved bacon and distribute on top as well. Place in oven to broil until cheese melts about 3 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light
We had mixed reviews on this meal. It was good but not great. My version above increases the turmeric, as well as adds additional garlic and some pepper. The meal could have used more flavor still. I think it was better received the first night.
I am working on finding a graphic and a creating a scale regarding the recipes. In the meantime this was probably a could make again, but no one is requesting it as a weekly menu item yet. Maybe with a few more tweaks it could become a family favorite.