You can use anything from the site as long as you provide a link back to this website. Thanks! :)

Translate This Page

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake

I am currently changing my eating habits to live a healthier lifestyle. I still love to eat good food and I view food as more than simply fuel for the body. I follow an 80/20 plan. 80 percent of the time I eat as healthy as possible. 20 percent of the time I allow myself to enjoy food without regard to the calorical implications! :)

To wean myself off from eating extremely unhealthy fast food, I am starting to cook on my so called cheat days. The first recipe was Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom Pasta Bake. I had seen variations of this recipe and decided to modify to my own tastes. I added sour cream to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish and I also decided to mix the pasta in the pot to incorporate everything together before baking. There were some other changes I made to the order of cooking and things of that nature. But this is basically my own take on the basic recipe that you might have seen out there.
Here is my slightly creolized version of: 
 Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake

4-5 boneless chicken breasts(cut into bite size chunks)
12 oz angel hair pasta
1 small carton portobello mushrooms(roughly chopped but not too small)
1 10 oz box frozen spinach(thawed & drained)
12 oz half and half cream
Sour cream(small container or about 8 ounces. To Taste)
8 oz. of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 12 oz bag white Italian cheese blend (shredded) (To Taste)
1 stick of butter
Olive oil(about 3 tablespoons)
Salt, pepper,  garlic powder,  seasoned salt (To taste)
9 X 13  inch baking pan(sprayed with nonstick spray or greased)

Do the following 2 things ahead a time. Shortly before you decide to start cooking. It took me about an hour and a half to complete the dish but I was able to concentrate solely on cooking this dish. It's simple but the amount of love you put in it ultimately determines how good it will taste! ;)

1. Cook pasta according to package, drain & set aside.

2. Marinate chicken breasts in salt, pepper, garlic powder & seasoned salt covered in the refrigerator for  few hours.  Don't overly season chicken breasts.

Cooking Directions
Please make sure to stir the food throughout the cooking process to ensure it doesn't burn or scorch. It it an easy dish but that doesn't mean that you can really forget about it. You have to watch it to make sure you are stirring and make sure the cream and cheeses don't burn. ;)
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
-In a large saucepan or pot, saute the chicken in olive oil on medium heat until done.  
(About 15 minutes) Set the cooked chicken aside but keep all the chicken drippings in the pan. .
-Add the stick of butter to the chicken drippings.
-Saute the mushrooms in the butter & the chicken drippings until they start to get tender. 
(About 5 minutes)
-Add in the spinach and cook for about 5 more minutes. 

-Stir frequently and be prepared to turn the heat down if necessary, throughout the whole process to avoid sticking. 
 -Add the half & half, stir, cover and turn down heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes watching to make sure the cream doesn't burn.
-Add sour cream and blend in well.  Cover and continue to cook on low for about 5 minutes.
-Add chicken back into pan, stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
-Stir in the shredded Parmesan cheese.
-Make sure mixture is seasoned to your taste. Remove from heat.
-Stir in the pasta and mix in well but sure not to break up the pasta too much.
-Pour pasta and creamy chicken and spinach mixture into your already sprayed or greases pan.
-Top with the shredded Italian cheese blend and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 
Check intermittently, maybe every 10 minutes or so, and adjust the baking time to fit your oven and your own tastes. Everything is basically done and you really just want to keep it in the oven enough to bring all of the flavors together and melt the cheese to your own liking.  I wanted the cheese to just start browning around the edges and that took me 25 -30 minutes. 

Let cool for 15-20 minutes.
Serve & enjoy! 
 It always helps me to visualize the cooking process when I try new recipes, so here is a basic framework for this recipe in pictures to help you visualize the process.

Brown chicken and set aside

 Melt butter in chicken drippings and saute mushrooms in the mixture.

Add the spinach and cook together with mushrooms

Add the half & half

 Add the sour cream & shredded Parmesan

Add the chicken back to the pan
Stir in the pasta

Pour mixture into pan

Top with shredded Italian white cheese blend & bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

It can be modified to be healthier by using low fat or fat free cheeses, cream and butter. A good substitute for cream in recipes like this is evaporated milk. Takes the fat down to nil and you really can't tell the difference. You could also substitute a healthier type of pasta. I like to use a double fiber brand that has white and wheat varieties. Of course the wheat is healthier, and when mixed together in a dish  like this, you really can't tell. 

I am eating this as my cheat meal this weekend. So I used full fat versions of everything!