Happy New Year, everyone!! Wow! 2016! How was your Christmas? I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays – lots of relaxing, drinks and, of course, good food! I tried to maintain my exercise regime over the holidays, mostly ’cause I’m so used to having it part of my day now and I’d miss it, but also because I didn’t feel as guilty having that extra glass of wine or hunk-o-chocolate or cookies or turkey…you get the picture, lol! But, as I said before, calories don’t count at Christmas. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! Might as well enjoy the holidays; after all, they are only around for a short while.
After all the indulgence over the past few weeks, people can’t be expected to quick cold turkey (although cold turkey with Dijon mustard is absolutely delicious- one of my favourite things, actually). Let’s ease ourselves into the new year, shall we? This Loaded Brussel Sprout & Tomato Pasta Bake with Chicken & Sausage is basically an adult version of mac and cheese and who doesn’t like mac-n-cheese? Not me! How can you go wrong with creamy, cheesy, carby goodness?! Answer – you can’t 🙂 ! P.S. my nickname for brussel sprouts is ‘little cabbages’. I think that’s a way more appropriate name, don’t you? Just look at ’em……
A lot of people make a ‘eat healthier’ resolution around this time of year. The way I look at it is everything in moderation. Sure, this may be pasta, cheese, sausage and all those goodies that we think we should stay away from, but this recipe also has loads, I mean loads, of brussel sprouts, so there’s lots of nutrition in there. Yeap! You don’t have to feel guilty for eating all that cheese and pasta (or for having a second piece). They cancel each other out. Not really. Just go with it 😉 That’s what I do!
When I make baked pasta dishes like this, I like for the ‘sauce’ to be on the wet side because I find that by the time you bake it, it’s the perfect creaminess and not too dry. Also, it is able to withstand in the fridge as leftovers the next day without being a dry hot mess. If you want to have this vegetarian, simply omit the chicken and sausage.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I have a few, but one of them is I’d like to read a bit more. I just have to make the time to do it! Funny thing, for Christmas my brother & sister-in-law gave me the Mindy Kaling book ‘Why Not Me’. How is this funny you ask? Well hubby & I gave my sister-in-law the exact same gift. And just the Christmas before that, they gave me the Amy Poehler book ‘Yes Please’ and we gave my sister-in-law the same! I was thinking if Christmas 2016 we give each other a different book, we’d be disappointed. We’re on a roll, lol! Anyways, 2016 is going to be a great year! I bought a little shadow box at Winner’s just the other day and it said ‘Think Happy Thoughts.’ That’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Happy New Year, once again!!
Loaded Brussel Sprout & Tomato Pasta Bake with Chicken & Sausage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 sausage -meat removed from casing/crumbled
- 4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs -cut into little bite sized pieces
- 1 onion -minced
- 3 cloves garlic -minced
- 3 red thai chili pepper -minced, optional
- 1 lb brussel sprouts -thinly sliced/shredded
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg -divided
- 1 tsp salt -divided
- 1 tsp pepper -divided
- 5 cups milk
- 1 lb rotini pasta
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 cups cheddar cheese -shredded
- 1 cup gruyere cheese -shredded
- 2 cups grape tomatoes -halved
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- Pam -for greasing dish
- Preheat oven to 375F. On the stove top in a deep pan on medium low heat add 1 tbsp. of olive oil and add sausage. Cook 5 minutes. Then, add chicken and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- To sausage and chicken mixture, add onion and cook 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add garlic and chili pepper and cook 1 minute. Add brussel sprouts and 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp each of salt pepper and cook 5 minutes. Remove mixture from pan. Place in a large bowl for later use.
- Meanwhile, place milk in a saucepan and heat on low. Also, in a large pot cook pasta per package instructions to al dente. Drain pasta.
- Now, make your sauce. In same sauce pan that you used to cook the sausage mixture melt butter. Add flour to form a paste and cook about 2-3 minutes. About a cup and half at a time, add milk. Mixture will thicken. As it thickens, add another cup or so of milk. Continue until milk is used and sauce is thickened. Add 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. Mix two of the cheeses together in a bowl. Off heat, add 4.5 cups of cheese to the sauce (reserve 1/2 cup for the top). This will take about 8-10 minutes in total.
- Spray baking dish (about 9x13) with Pam. Now, combine everything! In the same pot the pasta was boiled in, add sausage mixture, drained pasta, sauce mixture and 1.5 cup of grape tomatoes. Stir to combine. Pour in baking dish.
- Mix panko with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle on pasta. Top with half cup of reserved grape tomatoes. Bake, covered with foil, for 25 minutes. Increase heat to 400F, remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and brown. Wait for 10 minutes before digging in!