Jun 27, 2012

Cheesy Bacon Chicken Pasta Bake

I recently discovered Real Food Wednesdays on Kelly the Kitchen Cop.  It's a linkup focused on recipes using REAL FOOD.  Since I've been trying to have my family eat REAL Food and THRIVE is a great way to do that, I'm sharing this today on Real Food WednesdayI recommend checking out the other great recipes shared there!   I define REAL Food as food that has ingredients I recognize.  If I can't read it, why do I want my family to eat it?  That's one of the wonderful things about THRIVE - the ingredient lists!  No preservatives, no dyes.  The ingredients for FD Pineapple?  Pineapple!  That's it!  In fact, all of the fruits, vegetables and dairy are even GMO free (including the FD Sweet Corn). 

I put this Baked Cheesy Chicken Bake on my Menu Plan for Thursday a few weeks ago but didn't check it ahead of time.  Life got busy and all day, I thought we were supposed to be having Quinoa Pancakes which wouldn't take much prep time.  So when I checked the menu at about 4 pm and saw the pasta bake and read the recipe, I started to change the plan.  I didn't have the right ingredients, nor had I defrosted any chicken.  But the oven was already hot from preparing lasagna for Youth Conference and the temperature outside wasn't steamy so I figured I'd better take advantage of it before the summer temperatures hit.  Plus it would give me the chance to share with you about using my THRIVE Home Store.

I grabbed some penne pasta, FD Chopped Chicken (but the FD Seasoned Chicken Slices would have been amazing in this!), and FD Mushrooms from my Store and got ready to experiment.  I was nervous when it came time for dinner but went into shock when they all said they loved it (after some removed the tomatoes and others removed the mushrooms).  We each had a few suggestions to tweak it so after making it again last week, here's the approved version.  Of course, I wrote this for using THRIVE ingredients, but you could easily use fresh in the same quantities

Cheesy Bacon Chicken Pasta Bake

1/2 cup FD Chopped Chicken
1/4 - 1/2 cup FD Mushrooms
1/4 box Penne Pasta
1 cup reconstituted THRIVE Powdered Milk or THRIVE Instant Milk
1/2 cup FD Diced Tomatoes
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 T Butter
1-2 minced garlic cloves
2 T bacon bits
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmessan

Rehydrate chicken by soaking in cold water for 10 minutes.  Drain chicken.  While chicken is soaking, start pasta cooking and rehydrate Mushrooms and Tomatoes by placing in strainer and spraying for a few seconds with cold water.  Set aside mushrooms and tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 9x13 dish.  Cook pasta a few minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.

If using fresh chicken, instead of THRIVE, while pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; and cook thoroughly. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and remove from pan.

While chicken pan is still hot, toss the mushrooms in and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes).

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk.  Keep whisking as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in Swiss and Parmessan.  Add chicken, bacon bits, and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour pasta mixture into 9x13 pan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes.