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ON THE MENU: Florentine Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs

Food seems to be a blog favorite, especially those Chicken Enchiladas. Pretty freakin' d'lish right?? So here's a recipe from a fellow mom's club member that was prepared last week for our family. It was an absolute hit with Chase and definitely one I'll make again. And for all of you that are wondering how I'm still getting meals brought to me 6 weeks postpartum?? Between the families from our church - Grace Fellowship - and my local Mom's Club, it was truly a blessing to have home cooked meals 3-4 times per week for that long. I'm forever grateful for all the people that volunteered to do something so thoughtful.

Florentine Mac and Cheese with Roast Chicken Meatballs
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2007 (with a few motifications)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings

• 1 pound Rotini pasta
• Salt
• 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
• Black pepper
• 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed
• 1 cup Ricotta cheese
• 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
• 1 egg
• 3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 2 boxes, 10 ounces, chopped frozen spinach*
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 can of low sodium chicken stock - allows for 2 cups
• 1 cup milk
• 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
-Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente.
-While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, garlic, Ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.
-Form 8 medium round balls, about 2 to 3-inches.
-Coat balls in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
-Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.
-Place spinach boxes in a shallow dish and defrost spinach in microwave 8 to 10 minutes on "defrost" setting depending on the microwave. *It is recommended to do this step the night before or well ahead of time.
-While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour.
-Cook 1 minute then whisk in 1 cup of stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes.
-Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.
-Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce.
-Add the remaining cup of low sodium chicken stock.
-Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.

Serve Florentine Mac-n-Cheese with 2 meatballs per person along side. Enjoy!

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