Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Wagon Wheels & Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

This recipe is made specifically with our "Teeny-Leanies" (healthy-eatin' kids) in mind. Paula has a page in her magazine titled "Jack's Corner", where she features yummy child-friendly recipes. Jack is her precious grandson that loves Paula's cookin' just as much as the rest of us. The great news is that even big kids like you and I can enjoy this and many other wonderful recipes found in "Jack's Corner". Here is what I did to lean it up just a bit. For the original version of this recipe, check out Paula's March/April 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine.

Makes 12 Servings


1 (16 oz.) bag of Veggie Wacky Mac pasta
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoon SMART BALANCE olive oil/butter blend
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4-1/2 cup 1% milk
1 bag KRAFT fat free shredded cheddar cheese (1-3/4 c)
1 bag KRAFT 1% shredded mozzerella cheese
1 cup reduced-fat shredded Swiss cheese
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to directions on the package and keep warm.

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add chicken and cook for about 4 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Add flour and remaining salt. Stir constantly until blended. Slowly add milk and stir occasionally; about 5-6 minutes. When the mixture has thickened slightly, add in the cheese. Once cheese is melted and smooth, add the broccoli.
Add the pasta to the mixture and stir gently until all the pasta is covered.

Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top off with Panko and bake for 15-20 minutes. Bake until hot and bubbly. Make sure to cool before serving.


It was a hit! From the cook's perspective, it was so simple and took hardly any time at all. From a taster's perspective, it was fantastically delicious! My little one almost cleaned her plate (which is HUGE for her). I couldn't wipe the big smile off my face as I watched her take huge bites loaded with vitamin-packed broccoli and protein-powered chicken, pasta and cheese. It is a parent's dream! And I must add, it was a great meal for myself and my husband too.

My changes were minimal for this recipe. I used reduced-fat cheeses and milk, cut the butter in half and substituted with Smart Balance and used noodles made with vegetables. The Wacky Mac not only added a few more vitamins, but it also added some additional color with green and red colored pasta. More color is always exciting when eating. As Paula says, "We eat first with our eyes," so we gotta make it look exciting, especially to the eyes of those little eaters.

If you have 12 1-cup ovenproof ramekins, you can use those in place of the large casserole. That is what Paula did and it looked really cute. I just didn't have any of these, otherwise I would have. It would have been very helpfult for portion control.
If you have kids in the house, I would say this recipe is a must! If you don't...I still think it is a must. To me, it is a perfectly balance meal; pasta (carbs), chicken and cheese (protein), broccoli (veggies) and butter/olive oil (fats). It gets a perfect "10" on nutrition and taste!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 248.33 calories;  3.47g fat;  36.3g carbohydrate; 18.99g protein;  1.98g fiber


  1. Cute blog! Arrived from the Foodie Blogroll.

    I love anything made with Panko. It's nice to see a Southern recipe made a bit more healthfully! (From one belle to another. ;)

  2. so cute! im not a kiddo but this definitely appeals to the kid in me :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails