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You might be the master of meal prep — but have you ever considered getting your kids involved in the process? Cooking with kids in the kitchen not only builds fine motor skills, but it also exposes them to different tastes and textures.

Get cooking with your kids with this yummy chicken penne dish that uses whole-wheat pasta and broccoli for a tasty weeknight casserole.

Whenever you’re in the kitchen, remind your kids of the safety rules. Always wash hands, assign tasks appropriate for each child’s skill level and ability, and keep heavy or hot things out of reach of little ones. Older children may be able to chop, stir and sauté with careful supervision.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole-wheat penne pasta, dry (12 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 cup cooked, diced chicken (4 oz., ½” cubes)
  • 1 ½ cups fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon enriched all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 oz.)
  • ½ cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, low-moisture, part-skim, shredded (2 oz.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot, bring two quarts of water to boil. Stir in pasta and return to a boil; cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and toss pasta with ½ teaspoon garlic.

Fill a medium pot of a water and bring to boil. Add broccoli and cook for five minutes. Drain well; sprinkle with remaining garlic.

While pasta and broccoli cook, in a small mixing bowl, mix ½ cup half and half with flour. Whisk until lumps are removed.

Transfer pasta and broccoli to a medium (8”x11”) casserole dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Add chicken and mix well.

In a medium skillet, heat chicken broth, salt, pepper and remaining half and half. Stirring constantly, add the half and half flour mix and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low until the sauce thickens, for about five minutes. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and pour over broccoli and pasta mixture.

Cover casserole dish with foil; bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

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