Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cheesy Chicken, Veggies & Noodles

It's been so hot around here lately that neither my husband nor I are hungry enough in the evenings for a big meal. This dish, my lightened up version of the KraftFoods recipe found here, was the perfect alternative. It's filling, but not heavy. My husband kept commenting about all the different flavors and how well they blended together. There's just enough cheese to give it taste without being gloppy or taking away from the other ingredients. The veggies give it great color which my macho-man husband described as "pretty." :)

4 cups egg noodles, dry (I used whole wheat)
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/4 cup Italian dressing (I used light)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
4 oz 2% milk Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon milk (I used skim)

1. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain.

2. Cook chicken and Italian dressing together in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.

3. Add all veggies & stir. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender.

4. While that cooks, place your chunks of Velveeta in a microwavable container and add the milk. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 1 minute longer or until cheese is very creamy. NOTE: Make sure your container is large enough that it doesn't bubble over

5. Add cheese to chicken mixture and toss lightly to coat. Serve over the noodles.

Don't forget that summer is the perfect time to check out your local Farmer's Market. You can find one in your area by visiting and searching by city and state, zip code or the specific item you're looking for. I make a weekly trip and that's where I found the great yellow squash for this dish. Many people believe that it's more expensive to buy local. In most cases, I've found it to cost roughly the same or a little less at these markets when it comes to produce. Occasionally I'll stumble across something that costs a little more. It's usually not by much, though. By shopping the market, you're supporting local growers and getting quality produce or other goods.

The USDA's "Certified Organic" label isn't something you'll see very often at the Farmer's Market. That doesn't mean these standards aren't followed by the grower. Said certification is very expensive and someone difficult to obtain so it's not feasible for many independents. If you're concerned about how things or grown or what chemicals are used, talk to the vendor. They can tell you, start to finish, exactly how something has been grown. They're usually very proud of their work (as they should be) and eager to share the process. You can also learn new ways to use the fresh ingredients or get great recipes. All you have to do is ask!

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