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Chicken

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

May 17, 2019

You guys, it’s been a while since we had a casserole here on THO. But I have a friend who just had a baby girl (hi Meaghan!). When I thought about what meal I could bring her I was bored with every casserole I had made before.

Enter this Chicken BLT one.

I’ve been on a BLT kick ever since I ordered one at Panera a few weeks ago. So simple! So delicious! My daughter even asked me if I had bought a large package of bacon or something because I had been cooking with it a lot. Does bacon come in bulk? If so, sign me up.

We all loved this dinner, it’s comfort food and it freezes and travels well, so it makes a great dish to share. Like most casseroles there are a few steps, but you could bake it in the same pot as the pasta is cooked in and you stir it all together if you wanted to.

The thing that makes this SO delicious is I cooked the tomatoes and the spinach in the bacon grease so it would take on the bacon flavor. I got the idea from a pasta dish at the Mother’s Day brunch we went to, where I bit into a cherry tomato and was like, that tastes like bacon! Wait, it’s been cooked in bacon grease!  This had to be duplicated. And voila! It works perfectly here. I love when greens are cooked in flavor too.

I didn’t use bacon grease for the roux as I thought it would make the dish too heavy. Instead in the same pan as I cooked the diced chicken (to save time though you could use rotisserie or bake the chicken in the oven and then dice it) I made a roux with butter, onions and chicken stock and just a little cream and parm to make it delicious.

Then I poured it over the pasta to combine it. It’s important to let the sauce coat the pasta first and then add the tomatoes, spinach and bacon so you don’t burst the tomatoes or crumble the bacon too much.

Then you toss it all together and add this delicious parm and panko topping that really mimics the toast in a BLT.

Drizzle the top with a little olive oil so it turns brown in the oven (channeling my inner Giada here since she does this topping for every casserole she makes).

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the panko turns golden, and then when you remove it, add another little crumble of bacon because why not?

True story, when I was taking these photos, I was getting my kindergartener ready to go to LaCrosse practice, and I took a few bites from this plate. It was so ridiculously good that the whole time we were at practice I was counting the minutes until we could go home and have this for dinner. (I finished reading My Brilliant Best Friend to keep my mind off of it thankfully).

Here’s to new babies, comfort food, and good books!  Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 pound penne pasta

1 pound of bacon

2 c. cherry tomatoes

4 c. packed fresh spinach

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 chicken breasts, diced (or meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 onion, diced

4 Tbsp. of butter (½ a stick)

¼ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup cream

½ + ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesean

⅓ cup panko

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package, drain, and return to pot, drizzling with a little oil so it doesn’t stick. While it cooks, fry bacon (may need two pans or to work in batches if pan is too small). Once it’s cooked, remove and place on paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add tomatoes and spinach to remaining bacon fat and cook on medium heat, tossing in pan instead of stirring so you don’t break tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are slightly blistered, taking care not to overcook. In another large pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat, then add diced chicken, salt and pepper. (If using precooked or rotisserie chicken you can skip this step). Cook until chicken is nicely brown, then remove from pan on a plate and set aside. In the same pan, melt 4 Tbsp. butter, and then add diced onions. Cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then whisk in flour for 1 minute. Then add chicken stock and whisk well. Then whisk in cream and ½ cup parmesan and mix until its melted into sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Then add the cooked tomatoes, spinach and chicken. Seperate 3 strips of bacon, and cut up the rest and add to the pot. Gently combine all these ingredients so as not to break the tomatoes and then pour them into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Combine panko and remaining ⅓ cup parmesan and sprinkle over the top, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until panko is slightly browned. Remove and sprinkle with remaining 3 strips of bacon, cut up.

Slow Cooker Noodle Bowls

April 5, 2019

 

 

You guys…I didn’t know how much I needed noodle bowls in my life until I started skiing at a mountain with a noodle bowl bar. You get to choose the broth: chicken, beef or miso. And the meat: chicken, beef brisket or pork belly. And the noodles: ramen, udon or soba.

The first time I ordered one it was late in the day and they only had Udon noodles left. And basically now I’m hooked on them. They are so chewy and light and velvety. The perfect mix in a bite of meat and broth and crunchy veggies.

When we’re skiing, I dream about the tender meat, and salty broth, and spicy bits of jalapeno and sriracha sauce and those luxurious noodles.  And afterwards, this food makes you feel SO good. Super nourished and comforted and charged with good things so you can ski for hours.

I usually have to fend off all of my kids from grabbing all the noodles, so I decided to try to make noodle bowls at home.

What I did not realize was how easy it could be in a crock pot. Or what an awesome family meal this is, since picky eaters usually love the noodles and the egg (why does the egg just make this dish?) and can be coaxed into some grated carrots. It actually would make great party food too – lay out all the toppings and let friends build them selves a customized bowl to their liking.

All you have to do is cook the chicken and broth with some aromatics and mushrooms for a few hours, and then add the noodles five minutes before you want to serve it.

Then you layout all the toppings…

And then you start to assemble…

Oh man. They are just so good. And I know that you could look around for complex broth recipes and boil pork knuckles with cinnamon and star anise like real pho broth. But the thing is I’m probably never going to make those because I don’t have time.

This broth takes 10 minutes has a complex flavor from the garlic and ginger and onions, as well as the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

You could obviously swap beef broth and some cuts like flank steak or brisket to this recipe, and you could also use Ramen or Soba noodles instead. And if you’re looking for any of these ingredients, an Asian section at most grocery stores should have the Udon and Ramen noodles, and I also found some Miso Broth that I can’t wait to try too.

I hope you try these soon, because they are life changing. I don’t say that lightly but THEY’RE THAT GOOD.

Slow Cooker Noodle Bowl (I doubled this to feed 8 and have some leftovers):

Ingredients:

1 diced onion

6 garlic cloves, minced (may only want to do 8 when you double it)

1 T. fresh ginger, minced

4 cups chicken broth (1 32 oz. boxes)

1 lb. chicken breasts

8 oz. sliced shitake mushrooms

¼ soy sauce (more to taste for serving)

¼ rice wine vinegar

½ t. pepper

1 package Udon or Ramen noodles

 

Toppings:

Shredded Carrots

Bean Sprouts

Cilantro

Sliced Jalapeño

Hard-boiled egg, cut in half lengthwise

Sriracha sauce

Directions:

Add onions, ginger, garlic, chicken breasts, chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and pepper to crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.

When finished, remove chicken breasts and let rest, and add noodles to crock pot. Let cook for 5 minutes while you prep toppings. Slice chicken breasts then add back into crockpot, stirring to be sure noodles are broken up.

To serve, ladle broth, noodle, chicken and mushrooms into bowl. Add fresh vegetables and herbs, two halves of the hard-boiled egg, and Sriracha and jalapeños for heat.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

October 11, 2018

I realized on my meal plan that I’ve never blogged about a staple meal in our house, probably because it feels so ordinary and I like a little fancy in a recipe to be blog worthy. But sometimes the classics deserve a space too.

Whenever my family comes down with a cold, like countless other mothers, I try to make a batch of this chicken noodle soup. I love how every mom makes it just a little bit differently and puts there own spin on it, so feel free to play around and make this recipe your own. This is my basic recipe but I like to change up the pasta and the herbs each time.

Sure in a pinch a can of soup works, but I don’t love the flavor anymore – it tastes like tin to me and I notice my kids don’t eat it. When you are feeding lots of people its just as easy and way more flavorful and nutritious to take 20 minutes and put a pot of this together. I usually have a batch of homemade stock in the freezer, and it really adds to the homemade, put-marrow-in-your bones feel to this dish, but boxed works fine.

Side note: One of my rules of feeding a family is always feel good about homemade stock, but never feel bad about boxed. Maybe you already know about the peaceful and easy rhythm of using up your rotisserie chicken carcass and bottom of the veggie drawer contents, and how good it makes your house smell. If not, see how I make chicken stock in this (very old!) blog post. 

One of my favorite things about this soup is using really fine egg noodles. They are creamier than spaghetti noodles, but about the same diameter. You might already have a preference, like larger egg noddles, but its fun to play around with the pasta in this soup. Ditalini? Alphabet Shapes? Orzo? All so fun especially for younger kids. But I usually have a bag of this vermicelli egg noodles in my pantry for this soup. It also goes by thin egg noodles in some brands but it’s the same thing.

And as for herbs, play around with those too. In general, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley are all perfect here. I use either a tablespoon of freshly chopped or a teaspoon of dried. We like it herby.

I could go on about the health qualities of this soup but I’m not a nutritionist. Ok fine – herbs have potent healing properties and so does garlic, so feel free to double the amount if you like. My mom used to scrape raw garlic on Triscuits when were sick, which you could also do if your children will eat it.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (print recipe here):

  1. 2 T. olive oil
  2. 2 medium onions, diced
  3. 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  4. 5 medium celery stalks, sliced
  5. 5 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 8 cups chicken broth
  7. 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 Tablesoon fresh thyme, I was out)
  8. 1 Tablesoon chopped fresh Rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary)
  9. 4 cups chicken, shredded or chopped – you can use raw or cooked, see recipe for when to add
  10. 6 oz. (about half a bag) thin Egg Noodles
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. Fresh parsley for garnish
  13. A splash of lemon juice, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes more. Add carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until onion begins to soften and brown a bit.
  2. If using raw cubed chicken add it after herbs and cook for 5 more minutes
  3. Add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add noodles.  Return heat to high.  Bring soup back to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium high. Boil for about 20 minutes until noodles are cooked through.
  5. If using cooked chicken add it here
  6. Taste soup and add additional herbs, salt, and pepper to your preference.
  7. Serve with chopped parsley for garnish

Weekly Meal Plan 10/2

October 4, 2018

Hello October!

Fall is my favorite. We’re planning on heading north for the long weekend, and will be eating out at our favorite places to keep it simple. But I’m planning on doubling the beef stew just in case! It travels really well and gets better each day.

Here’s what we’re having this week. Happy Fall! xoxo Katie

Monday

Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie – this was my daughter’s dinner choice since it was her Saint’s Day, St. Therese the Little Flower. I am linking my Root Vegetable version (usually post my Easy Shepherd’s Pie) for a little change.

Tuesday 

Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

Wednesday

Eggplant Parm

Thursday 

Instapot Beef Stew 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 

Going North & Eating Out – Time to look at all the peak foliage in the White Mountains.

Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken

September 24, 2018

Well, it’s official.

The babies like mushrooms. And a garlic cream sauce on their food.

My husband doesn’t love mushrooms but I do, and it’s always interesting to see if any of the kids share his aversion. So far its mushroom lovers 6: haters 2.

I actually forget to make dinner with mushrooms because he doesn’t like them (and rely on Trader Joe’s Mushroom Medley in my freezer for goat cheese and mushroom omelets).

But when someone had shared this dinner on Facebook it was all I could think about all day.
So I made sure to get some mushrooms when I ran to the store that day, and fired up this dinner. I should add that I made a second pan without mushrooms for the mushroom haters.
Everyone loved the creamy garlic sauce, and my kids had it over pasta, while we had it over spaghetti squash. It was such a great comfort food dinner. My five year old actually declared, “Mom, I like chicken now!” so that says something.
I used whole chicken breasts in this recipe, even though the original recipe calls for thinly slicing them. Next time I will do this step, or use chicken tenders. In order to cook the chicken through the drippings in the pan got a bit dark, making the sauce dark. So, if you want a light colored sauce and shorter cooking time, skip the whole chicken breasts. But it still tasted delicious. And if you were really in a hurry you could easily shred a rotisserie chicken into the sauce.

This is definitely going to be in our dinner rotation this winter. Hope it makes it to yours too!
Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken (printer version here):
INGREDIENTS (serves 4, I doubled everything and added the extra mushrooms to just one pan)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt Pepper
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In large skillet add olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and cooked until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until tender. Remove and set aside.
  2. To make the sauce add the butter and melt. Add garlic and cook until tender. Whisk in the flour until it thickens. Whisk in chicken broth, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, pepper and salt. Add the spinach and let simmer until it starts to thicken and spinach wilts. Add the chicken and ,mushrooms back to the sauce and serve over pasta is desired.

Recipe from The Recipe Critic and can be found on the web here.

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Avocado Salsa

July 18, 2018

I can’t believe I have been Food Blogging for almost 7 years and I haven’t ever posted one of our favorite dinners.

This Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breast with Avocado Salsa is one of those dishes that might seem boring because of the simplicity of it, then surprises and delights with its bold spicy heat from the Cayenne rub (just 3 ingredients!), the cool creaminess from the avocado, then the crunch from the onion, all tied together with lime juice and salt. It’s our perennial answer to what to do with the frozen chicken breasts in the freezer that actually gets us excited for dinner. And it is beyond easy to make.

I love that it’s low carb, that it is SO satisfying from the good fats in the avocado, and we usually have the ingredients on hand, if we have timed the avocado ripeness just right. My kids love avocados and any meal where they get to count it as their vegetable.

And while the little kids don’t love the spice, you can coat their chicken breasts in a ranch seasoning packed instead of the spice rub or just cook it with salt and pepper and then dip theirs in ranch. (I usually serve some pasta or rice on the side too.)

(This is such a workhorse meal for us that I didn’t even have time to get great pics of it, but couldn’t keep that from sharing with you all.)

You might even find yourself making the salsa on its own to have deconstructed guacamole whenever the feeling hits you.

And it would also make a great appetizer if you skewered chicken thighs, put the rub on and grilled them, and then dipped them into a smoother guacamole or this chunky version here.

Hope this makes it on to your weekly rotation! If my husband had his way, this would be dinner 3 nights a week.

Now I’m off to take a gaggle of kids to the pool, which is on repeat these lovely warm days.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Avocado Salsa (printer version here.)

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

Directions

  • 1. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.
  • 2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  • 3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

 

Recipe is from MarthaStewart.com