Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole

Happy Friday, ya’ll! Yesterday I woke up thinking it was Friday. Realizing it was actually Thursday was a REAL buzz kill. A few choice words may or may not have been said. But, today, I can say with 94% accuracy that it is in fact Friday.

Let the angels sing.

Lately, I’ve been feeling under the weather. My stomach has been hurting and my abs have been aching. I think the 100 degree weather + no a/c is to blame. It feels like I’m being killed very slowly and painfully. Pretty sure this is what hell feels like.

I don’t really feel like eating anything at all either. Well, anything healthy. On Wednesday I made some mini brownie bites and ate approximately 31. Then I made another batch of this and ate it all with a bunch of those soft pocketless pita things. {The person who invented those deserves a medal.} Then I had 7 bowls of cereal and some diet root beer and called it a day. {Not together.} I did manage to eat a handful of grapes and some deli turkey at some point. And drank a few glasses of water. And had this for dinner.

{Remember my post about how I eat? YEAH. I’m such a healthy poster child. —>LIES.}

Why I chose to cook AND turn the oven on to make this in this heat is beyond me. Did I take crazy pills this morning? All signs point to yes.

I was lightheaded and delusional. Clearly.

So, this dinner. It’s amazing. My husband could not rave enough about this. We’re kind of a southwest freaks, so of course we enjoyed every last bite. I packed it full of veggies in an attempt to make myself feel less guilty about eating half the pan. And make up for all the cheese. And chips. Didn’t really work considering my previous consumption of 17,000 calories earlier in the day. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Moral of the story: make this.

Also, I like food. But I think you knew that already.

Here’s how to do it: Start by cooking some whole wheat pasta part way. You’re going to be cooking this whole thing in the oven later, so you don’t want your pasta to turn into mush.

1/2 pound whole grain pasta such as rotini
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4-1/3 cup all purpose flour {depending on how much liquid the veggies give off}
2 cups chicken stock or milk
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Start by boiling a large pot of water and cooking the pasta for half the time recommended on the box. Drain and set aside. In the same hot pot, melt butter and saute onions, garlic, peppers, jalapenos and corn until tender, 7 minutes or so. Sprinkle in flour and stir. Cook 2 minutes, then pour in chicken stock or milk. Increase heat to thicken sauce, then sprinkle in cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cheeses, cream, chicken and cooked pasta. Stir to combine and pour into large casserole dish. Top with crushed tortilla chips and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve.

Recipe Notes: I used chicken stock, but feel free to use milk to make a creamier sauce. Also, I ran out of cheddar cheese so I didn't top my casserole with more cheese but would have liked to. If you wanted to be really crazy, top the chips with more cheese and salsa to get some nacho action. Holy guacamole that would be good.