Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Second Chance Italian Chicken Bake

I have had my fair share of failures in the kitchen.  My husband loves telling the story of the first meal I made for him - it's pretty damn funny.  For my first cooking endeavor, I may have overestimated my ability in the kitchen and tried to make several things at once, all of which were pretty complicated. The kitchen was a war zone.  Some things were burned, other things underdone. In my defense, I tried making it in a 24 year old bachelor's kitchen, only to discover he had about 3 pans total and was living on pizza, Chinese takeout, and Chicken Voila.  I made it my mission to learn how to cook after that endeavor.

Last night, I had another failure, though less spectacular.  I made this Crockpot Chicken Parmesan recipe with pretty high expectations, only to be completely underwhelmed.  It was fine, but not sure I'll ever make it again.  And it made a TON.  I couldn't throw it all away, I knew I could save it somehow.  I found a photo on Pinterest with a link that didn't work, but it inspired me to salvage all of the tomatoey chicken goodness.  When life gives you sub-par Crockpot Chicken Parmesan, make this instead:

These are NOT my photos - these are from the broken link on Pinterest.  My cooked chicken was already swimming in a tomato sauce, so I improvised.  So my sauce was more pink-tinged rather than white.  If you're making this and don't have last night's tomatoey chicken rejects to use, I would half a bunch of cherry tomatoes and toss those in instead.  But I really liked it this way, so maybe I'll do it like this the next time too?  Here's what I came up with:

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. cream cheese
1 C. sour cream
1 C. whole milk
1/2 C. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 C. cooked chicken (from last night's failed recipe)
10 oz. pasta, whatever shape you have in your cupboard, cooked al dente per package
2 C. fresh spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 C. mozzarella cheese, shredded
fresh basil for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in large pan.  Add onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent.  Add cream cheese, stir until it's pretty much melted down.  Add sour cream, stir to combine.  Add milk, stir to combine.  Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, stir to combine.  In a large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, cooked chicken, spinach, white sauce, and 1 C. mozzarella cheese.  Stir to combine and transfer to baking pan. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over top.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Serve garnished with fresh basil and a little extra Parmesan. 

We enjoyed this way more than the original chicken recipe from last night, that's for sure - everything is made better with pasta and cheese, right? 

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