Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

I love Tetrazzini. Chicken or turkey – it really doesn’t matter. Creamy pasta, crispy topping, rich sauteed mushrooms, all baked to delicious perfection – and even better the next day for lunch leftovers.

Yesterday after getting home from my daughter’s dance competition – we were in Baltimore, Md. for a night – I was craving some sort of comfort food, and I was exhausted. Yes, she did all the work, but after standing for 8 hours on the concrete floor of the convention center on Saturday, with awful food options, I was ready to collapse.

Ballet Competition

And eat really good food.

For whatever reason, I was craving Tetrazzini. Except – I forgot to add mushrooms to the grocery list, which means we had none.

Annnnnd, it’s kinda hard to make a traditional Tetrazzini without the mushrooms. {sad face}

But, that’s okay! There were some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes in my last Hometown Harvest fixed bag, and I thought to myself:

Forget the Tetrazzini! Let’s just make a creamy baked chicken pasta dish, with fresh cherry tomatoes, sauteed onions + garlic and fresh herbs.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Doesn’t that look delicious, and fresh, and totally yummy?

It was.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 8-ounces spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted, add the chicken. Cook the chicken 4 minutes per side, or until it's cooked through. Remove the chicken to a paper towel, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a large bowl.
  3. Add another tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the large saute pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onions. After 2 minutes, once the onions start to become soft, add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and continue sauteeing them for another 5 minutes, and then add them to the chicken in the large bowl.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling, salted water and cook it for 9 minutes. Drain.
  5. Meanwhile, while the pasta's cooking, add 3 tablespoons of butter to the saute pan. Once it's melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 2 minutes, continuing to whisk. Pour the milk and chicken stock in all at once, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil - whisking frequently. Whisk in 1 teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper, then reduce the heat to keep the mixture simmering until it becomes thick and bubbly, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti, ½ cup of the cheese, the sauce, ¾ cup sliced cherry tomatoes, green onions and parsley to the large bowl with the chicken. Toss it all together until the spaghetti is well-coated.
  7. Add the pasta mixture to a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Toss the bread crumbs and remaining cheese together, then sprinkle it on top. Add the remaining sliced cherry tomatoes, dot with 3 tablespoons of butter, then bake it for 20 minutes (or until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown). Let the creamy baked chicken pasta rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor. All opinions are my own, and I only work with companies whose missions I support. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure you tell them I sent you!

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

The other day I was in the mood for Italian food, but not spaghetti, fettuccine, or baked ziti. Something else….

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I had one bunch of kale left over from my last Hometown Harvest bag, and thought maybe that would be tasty in a lasagna, sautéed first with some garlic and olive oil, and then added into the ricotta mixture. My vegetarian sister happened to be in town from Brooklyn (and eating with us!), so I thought she’d be a fan of the combo too.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I warmed the olive oil and minced the garlic. Then, I pulled the kale out from the fridge.

“Hmmm…this kale looks odd,” I thought.

Then, I quickly realized what I had leftover wasn’t kale at all! It was bok choy.

Well played.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I decided to use it anyway.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls
 
Prep time
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{Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' Lasagna Rolls Recipe}
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh bok choy, spinach or kale
  • 1 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup marinara
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and use a tablespoon of butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9x11" baking pan.
  2. For the bechamel sauce: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it's smooth, and then let it cook for 1 minute. Pour the milk in all at once, add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, and continue whisking until the bechamel becomes thick and bubbly. Pour it into the bottom of the buttered baking pan.
  3. Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Chiffonade the bok choy, then give it another quick dice - you should have around 2 cups' worth. Throw it into the skillet along with the garlic. Sauté the bok choy for 3 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water, cover the skillet and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, egg, ½ cup cheese, basil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Stir in the cooked bok choy.
  5. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on one lasagna noodle. Roll it up like a jellyroll, starting on one of the short ends. Lay the lasagna roll seam side down in the baking pan, on top of the bechamel. Repeat with the remaining lasagna noodles.
  6. Top the lasagna rolls with the marinara, the remaining 1 cup of cheese and some more fresh basil. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil, and bake it for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.
  7. Leftovers reheat well, and the individual rolls will freeze great too.

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

Tomorrow is the BIG GAME, which means fans (and non-fans) will be watching a lot of football (and really great commercials) while feasting on all kinds of game-time goodies.

We’re keeping it small at our house: the husband, one friend, our basement man cave, and a slow cooker full of beef chili!

The kids and I will probably keep ourselves occupied elsewhere in the house (watching Harry Potter on ABC Family – I may have already set a reminder), flipping every now and again to the game. Maybe.

The great thing about slow cooker dinner recipes is that you can feed an army, and you can also be really flexible about when dinner’s served. If the guys don’t want to come up for dinner at 7 p.m. because it’s in the middle of a nail-biter end of a quarter, so be it. The chili can slowly  simmer away, waiting patiently, flavor developing fabulously the longer it goes.

Chili’s not the the only thing that’s great for the Big Game though! How about 5 slow cooker dinner recipes that are perfect for when you’re gathering a group?

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

Perfect for game day or any other day!

 

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

1. Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I love this recipe. It will never replace a true roast chicken, but it’s perfect for  a day where you’re running around, super busy, or just want to have the yummy-ness of slow cooked chicken without having to really do much of anything. For the Big Game, you could pull the meat off the bones (remember to save the bones and carcass for Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!), and make chicken salad, BBQ chicken sandwiches, or a variety of other meals to feed a crowd.

Slow Cooker Beef & Potatoes2. Slow Cooker Beef and Potatoes

Beef roasts are the best when you can find them on sale at the grocery store – I always stock up on a few and throw them into my deep freeze. Another great idea is to find a local farm with grass-fed organic cows, and buy a 1/4 cow directly from the farmer. They’ll butcher it and let you pick the cuts you want, plus you’re eating healthier and supporting local agriculture. This recipe is another that can feed an army if you pick the right size roast. If you don’t want to serve it with potatoes, leave them out and instead shred the beef when it’s cook. It would make a killer hot beef sandwich, especially with the au jus!

Slow Cooker Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya3. Mediterranean Inspired Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya

The fabulous flavor combo of sausage, shrimp and all the other goodies slowly cooking together for hours and hours is drool-worthy. This is also one of those dishes that gets better with time. I find the next day, leftovers trump the jambalaya from the night before. SO, you could make this today, and then just reheat it tomorrow for the Big Game. How easy would that be? Also, not an olive fan? Just leave them out – flavor will still be just as fabulous.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chicken Chili4. Slow Cooker Black Bean Chicken Chili

Making chili with chicken instead of beef or pork is a great way to appeal to a broader set of palates, especially when folks don’t eat red meat (my brother-in-law) or pork (my parents – except for bacon, LOL). I happen to love beans in my chili, but my husband hates it. When I make this for him, he either has to pick them out, or I make it bean-less. Hrmph. Can’t please everyone!

Slow Cooker Chili - Texas Twist5. Slow Cooker Chili – Texas Twist

Speaking of chili, one of my favorite things to do is make slow cooker chili with a Texas twist – stew beef! After it cooks all day, the stew beef just falls apart with a spoon, it’s so tender. Super hearty, a mugful is enough to fill most bellies, which means one slow cooker full of chili can really feed an army of game watchers!

6 Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas

6 Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas

One of the things that keeps us eating home-cooked dinners more nights than not (yes, even on busy weeknights!) is my arsenal of dishes that are easy to throw together, with simple ingredients I usually have on hand. Some dinners come together in as little as 15 minutes!

Those that take a little longer to cook usually require less prep time, which means I’m able to throw something together, toss it in the oven to bake, and then spend time with the kids (or doing whatever else is on my to-do list).

Here are 6 easy weeknight dinner ideas on heavy rotation in our house:

1. Easy Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Perfectly Crispy Skin

Even thought they’re baked in the oven, the skin on these chicken thighs really does get “fried chicken” crispy! The best part is, prep takes all of 5 minutes (if that), so you can throw the chicken in the oven and forgettaboutit for 50 minutes.

2. Baked Barbecue Pork Chops

These baked barbecue pork chops are super easy because I use a store-bought bottle of barbecue sauce. Although, I have to say, making your own barbecue sauce wouldn’t be that difficult either – so give it a whirl if you prefer. The whole family loves these chops!

3. Easy Spaghetti Carbonara

I first tried making this recipe after reading Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. The recipe is so simple you’ll go nuts. And bacon? Enough said.

4. Turkey Meatloaf

Meatloaf gets a bad rap. I happen to love it, as do my kids and my husband. Like many dishes that have left a bad taste in mouths over the years, I find meatloaf is often poorly cooked and under-seasoned! Cooked properly, with enough salt and an inside filled with cheese (Mmmm….), it’s delicious! Using turkey is a twist on my traditional beef/pork/veal meatloaf.

5. Seared Salt & Pepper Shrimp over Thin Spaghetti with a Mushroom & Garlic Cream Sauce

This seared salt & pepper shrimp over thin spaghetti with a mushroom & garlic cream sauce is close to the recipe I made for my trip to NYC for the Food Network “Home Cooks” casting call. It’s also the longest recipe name EVER. Using frozen raw shrimp is one of my secrets to a quick weeknight meal – they take minutes to thaw, and less than 5 minutes to cook. TONS of uses.

6. Barbecue Pork Meatballs

These easy barbecue pork meatballs only take 30 minutes to bake (in a muffin tin!), and about 5 to prep. Another big hit in our house with the kids!

What’s your favorite easy weeknight dinner?

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