Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Barilla. All opinions of apps and companies that help me complete DIY projects are my own.
It’s not easy being the primary caregiver for a child. Add onto that that your wife drives an hour to and from work every day, and it just adds to the chaos that is making dinner
Being the one who is usually the cook for our evening meals I have settled on the way to help minimize most of the struggle of those couple of hours before my wife gets home to 30 minutes.
Yes, I make dinner in 30 minutes.
There might be some nights that it is shorter than that some night I might get really fancy and turn it into 35… maybe 45 if a bottle of wine is involved.
But for our family and our hectic evening schedule between baseball practice, a whining 1-year-old, and the latest episode of American Ninja Warrior, making dinner in 30 minutes fits.
While there are many recipes that I have discovered I can make in 30 minutes, pasta seems to always be a hit with our family. Whether it is spaghetti, chicken Alfredo, pasta salad, or even a killer Mac and cheese with chicken, pasta helps on many nights to help me hit that all too important 30-minute mark.
Our family favorite, however, has become Chicken Spinach Mac and Cheese. It is a very simple meal involving making a roux out of flour, milk, and garlic. While that part might sound complicated, it really isn’t.
The great thing about our Chicken Spinach Mac and Cheese is that, for the time being until we have two teenage boys in our house, it makes leftovers. That way the following day, when you are running between boy scouts and baseball practice you can just throw it into the microwave for 90 seconds and turn your favorite Netflix show on when you have 28 minutes to spare.
30 Minute Homemade Chicken Spinach Mac & Cheese
- 1 box Barilla Blue-Box Penne Pasta
- 1 cup (packed) spinach leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large chicken breasts, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk, heated
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredded parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 tbsp rosemary
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter baking dish unless using stoneware. Cook Barilla Penne Pasta until al dente. Add spinach to the pot. Let steep for 1 minute until spinach begins to wilt. Drain and pour noodles and spinach into baking dish. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the spinach/pasta water for the sauce.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in nonstick skillet. Pepper chicken to taste and brown in a skillet (Resist the temptation to salt AND pepper the chicken as you’re cooking it. Pepper is all you need.). Set aside. Use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet and return to heat. Melt butter in skillet. Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined to make a roux. Immediately add hot milk to skillet, whisking vigorously. Reduce heat to a simmer and add reserved pasta liquid, salt and garlic cloves (whole). Simmer until thick, about 5-8 minutes, stirring fairly constantly. Discard garlic before pouring over pasta.
In a baking dish, combine the pasta/spinach mixture, sauce, chicken, shredded cheese, and rosemary. Bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes until top just begins to brown. Serves 8 normal adults or 1 hungry teenager. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for several days.