Queso Chicken Penne

Queso Penne Pasta
printable recipe
makes one 9x13 casserole dish or 2 square casserole dishes
1 lb. penne pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (leave some seeds for heat)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 tsp. salt (more to taste)
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mex-blend)
1 can Rotel
4 cups shredded chicken
1.  Heat the oven to 350° and spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray (I separated this dish into two smaller casserole dishes and froze one for future use)
2.  Cook the pasta according to the directions for al dente.  Drain and set aside 
3.  In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onion and peppers until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt and cook until spices become pungent. 
4.  Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to cook the flour taste out.  Gradually whisk in the milk and stir until smooth.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken.  Turn heat to low and add the cream cheese and a handful of the shredded cheese.   Whisk until completely melted.  Stir in the can of Rotel. 
5.  Mix the chicken and cooked pasta and pour into prepared casserole dish.  Pour the sauce over the top, moving the mixture around slightly to let the sauce run through the pasta.  You can mix it all together if you prefer.  Top with remaining shredded cheese. 
6.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until bubbling.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.