Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake

I swear I have not forgotten about you dear readers. After putting in two 12 hour days for parent-teacher conferences and conducting six IEP meetings, I was spent! I think six IEPs might be a new record for me. I utilized every free minute. In all honesty, I didn't really even celebrate my birthday just because there was not time. Fortunately, next weekend my sisters and I will be getting together for another super sister weekend. I think then I will feel more like I had a birthday:).

When the going gets crazy, there is nothing like feeling prepared in the kitchen. This Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake was inspired by the many comments I saw while researching team USA's Olympic stars. Erin Hamlin, J.R. Celski, and several others stated that they eat a lot of spinach and chicken. While spinach and chicken are great on their own, I thought it would be the perfect addition to one of my many make ahead pasta bakes.

This dish is actually better and bakes faster if you make it a day or two ahead of time. There is no need to boil your noodles because they soak up and bake right in the sauce. I find gluten-free pastas actually taste better and hold their shape when prepared in this manner. If you are short on time like myself, this is the perfect comforting dish you can pop in the oven for a great weeknight meal.

Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups dried gluten-free penne noodles
2 cups skim milk
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken (I used leftovers)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Spray an 8-inch by 12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, cream cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth. Pour the milk mixture over the noodles. Add the spinach and chicken. Toss together until everything is coated. Spread the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to two days until you are ready to bake. When you are ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Uncover the dish and let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Give the pasta a little stir. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded Parmesan and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

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