Monday, January 13, 2014

Chicken Pesto Alfredo {Freezer Meal}






It was the coldest day of 2014. Of course, we were only 7 days in to the new year, but still, it doesn't get much colder than a high of 25 degrees around here. It was so cold that schools were delayed. Not for snow, for cold. Don't laugh, Yankee friends. We Southerners don't handle winter well.

Personally, the initial excitement of breaking out my cute sweaters and boots has worn off. I'm done with pumpkin this and peppermint that. I feel like crying at 5:00pm when it's dark outside and BEDTIME IS STILL 3 HOURS AWAY. I'm so. over. winter.

Still, sometimes the best way to combat a polar vortex is to hunker down and have a pajama day. 

We decided that since we were stuck indoors, we might as well get the house back in order from all the holiday mayhem.

So we made up the beds.

We rearranged some furniture.

We started taking down the tree. 
We only got about halfway done with this task because someone kept trying to eat the lights.


Then, while the little ones napped I made a casserole. 

I don't make casseroles too often, but when a blustery day calls for comfort food, there is nothing more comforting than a plate heaped with warm, creamy pasta. 

Plus, this particular casserole is pretty amazing.

I started by sauteing some chicken breasts, mainly because I also wanted some chicken for salads and things throughout the week. Normally I would just use some rotisserie or leftover chicken.
Then, since the pan was already hot, I threw in some mushrooms, because yum.

After the pasta cooked, everything was ready to stir together.

 The only thing that could possibly make a cheesy pasta dish even better is a crunchy breadcrumb topping.





This recipe is perfect for a 9x13 pan, but I like to split it into 2 8x8 pans, one for dinner and one for the freezer. Also, instead of buying disposable pans or tying up a good dish in the freezer, everytime I need to freeze a casserole, I use this little trick.

1. Line your pan in foil
2. Line the foil with plastic wrap
3. Assemble casserole
4. Cover casserole with plastic wrap and foil. You may need to add an extra piece of foil over the top to seal everything in. Label with a permanent marker.
5. Freeze casserole.
6. After it's frozen, pop it out, leave it in the freezer and take back your dish.
7. When you're ready to cook your casserole, take it out of the freezer, unwrap and pop it back into your dish!


Last, cover pasta with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover the pasta and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.



When Daddy returned home from work that night, he was a little dismayed to find the house in such disarray.

But there was pasta. And any day that ends with pasta is a good day in my book.


CHICKEN PESTO ALFREDO

  • 1 package (16oz) penne pasta, cooked & drained
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 package (8oz) button mushrooms, sliced & sauteed 
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 can (15oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar (15oz) alfredo sauce
  • 1 jar (5-8oz) prepared basil pesto
  • 1 cup milk
  • Topping
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients, except for topping, in a large bowl (pasta, chicken, mushrooms, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, alfredo, pesto and milk). In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients (breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil). Pour the pasta mixture into 2 8x8 pans. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over the top. *Cover pasta with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover the pasta and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.  

*If the casserole has been in the freezer, thaw completely in the fridge before baking.




1 comment:

  1. Made this last night and it was great! I didn't use the mushrooms or spinach bc my kids don't like them and the kids loved it! Rthanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete