Many years ago I worked as a mental health counselor for a couple of board & care facilities. Among the many duties, we were supposed to perform was the great task of cooking for 18 people, sometimes up to 40 depending on whether we had something special planned for our clients. Needless to say, I got really good at cooking for a small army and prided myself in being the cook all of the clients wanted to make their meals for them (some of my coworkers were, sadly, not very adept in the kitchen). Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes we worked from were not in the healthiest vein, partly because of what was donated to us and partly because there is only so much a non-profit can actually afford to buy. Still, there were wonderful things I ended up doing to pork loin and chicken (culinarily, of course, for my naughty-minded friends who read this) and I think the whole experience really helped me hone my Poor Girl skills long before I became said, Girl.
The following recipe is a healthier adaptation of a very simple, non-rocket-science, an easy-to-make casserole that my crisis house clients used to love, mainly because of the insane amount of cheese that was involved. I know, I know, I was just praising myself in my last post for my ability to get over the cheese addiction, but I didn’t say I was totally over my favorite dairy product! I can just control it better these days. 🙂 Though this has a fair amount of cheese to be pleasing, I use non-fat milk, brown rice pasta, and fresh broccoli & cauliflower to make up for the sinful stuff. The original version calls for about double this amount of cheese, a ton of white pasta, and Velveeta (for crying out loud!), not to mention half a chicken or so, making it a caloric nightmare.