Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake

I went to the gym this morning for a personal trainer sesh. Last week, he made me start tracking everything I eat. Ev-er-y-thing.  This is what he said as he looked at the list. "No. No, no, no, no." He got to Tuesday and gave me the list back. "I'm not looking at this anymore." Oh wait, you can't lose weight by eating bacon, cookies, pasta, Diet Dr. Pepper, and wine? Who knew? Maybe it's because I eat things like this. I'm pretty sure this is not a figure friendly food. But it is so, so good.

I got this recipe from one of my college roomies, Mary Grace. We used to have Gilmore Girls get togethers and she made this and I loved it. I've actually made it so many times that I don't even know where the original recipe is or what it is really called. So I picked a name that I thought it might be.

Cheesy Italian Chicken Pasta Bake
Serves 8

1 box rotini or penne pasta (I've been using the Smart Pasta by Ronzoni: purple box=more fiber), cooked and drained
1 lb chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 can diced Italian-style tomatoes, drained
1 tub chive and onion cream cheese
1/2 bag-1 whole bag shredded mozzarella cheese (based on your love of cheese and your love of your hips)
a little Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning blend or just some oregano, to taste
Salt and peppa, to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. I like to bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, just put a little olive oil and salt and pepper on them and top with aluminum foil.

2. Go clean something while the chicken is cooking. Or play on Pinterest, which is what I do. After the chicken comes out, chop it or shred it up.

3. Get your multi task on. Boil your water for your pasta. As this is happening, chop and cook up your onion and garlic.

4. As your pasta is cooking, throw everything in a bowl. Your chicken, onion/garlic, spinach (I think I only used half a box because Caleb doesn't love spinach overload), drained tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and cream cheese. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and throw it in there. Mix everything up. You need the pasta to be nice and hot when you mix everything up so that it will melt your cream cheese and everything will be evenly distributed.

I've looked everywhere for reduced fat chive and onion cream cheese but I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist.

Yum, yum, yum. Taste, re season. Taste again.

5. Throw everything in a 9x13 pan and top with a sprinkle of parm cheese. Or split into two smaller pans and put one in the freezer and bake the other one. This is what I did. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese gets nice a bubble and hot.

It's so good and cheesy and comforting. And there's even veggies in there. A half recipe makes enough for me and Caleb for dinner as well as generous portions for lunch the next day. So eat it up! But don't write it on your food list if you don't want to be judged.

And for your viewing pleasure, a pic that Caleb took of himself. I found this when uploading all the camera pics. He is taken, ladies.

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