Saturday, May 14, 2011

Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo Penne

This was really, really good, and not too hard to make!  I assembled this in the early afternoon and my husband put it in the oven while I was at the gym.  Dinner was ready when I got home!  :)  We had this salad on the side.  Instead of green onions, I used a lot of fresh chives from my plant.  The kids were a little wary of it at first, because of the chives, I think, but after the initial bite, they couldn't stop eating it.  This was a big hit with everyone.  For the sauce base, you use an easy, lower-fat homemade Alfredo, which would be great on its own over any kind of pasta.  Thanks to Our Best Bites for another great recipe!!  This will be a repeat for us.
Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo Penne

8 oz. penne or bowtie pasta (I used mezze penne, which is smaller)
1 recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce (recipe below)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (about 2 cups chopped chicken, give or take a bit)
5-6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 14-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions or fresh chives
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2.  While pasta is cooking, prepare Guiltless Alfredo sauce in a large, non-stick skillet. When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Toss with chopped chicken, bacon, artichoke hearts, green onions, and 1/2 c. mozzarella. Season to taste.

3.  Transfer mixture to an 8×8″ or 9x9" baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

*This can be made ahead and either refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to serve it. If you don’t plan on baking it immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil (if not freezing it, you don't need the plastic wrap). If you cook it from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 400 and bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly and the pasta is heated through (covered with foil). If you’re cooking it from the freezer, bake at 400 for about 90 minutes (remove plastic wrap but leave foil on).  You may need to remove the foil the last few minutes of baking to help it cook through and brown the cheese on top, if desired.

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce Recipe
from Our Best Bites

2 cups low-fat milk (I used 1% with great results)
1/3 cup (3 oz) low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I used only 1/2 tsp- add more to taste.  Remember Parm is salty)
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Toss the milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender.  Process until smooth and set aside. 

2.  In a non-stick sauce pan, melt butter on med-high heat and add garlic.  Let the garlic saute for about 30 seconds; you don’t want to burn it.  Then, add milk and cream cheese mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for about 3 or 4 minutes or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more- do not let it boil. It should be much thicker now. 

3.  When it's nice and thick, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and then cover the pan.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before using (unless you are using it as another part of a recipe).  It will continue to thicken upon standing. 

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chicklegirl said...

Both my kids are very picky eaters, but we made this for dinner tonight, and Jimmy loved it (Audrey, she's a hard sell on anything but chicken nuggets!) Thanks for a great recipe; we'll be making this again. Oh, and the guilt-free alfredo sauce is REALLY good!

What A Dish! said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I want to try that sauce just plain on pasta sometime (maybe w/some grilled chicken too). It's so easy!