If you are a family with a busy schedule but are looking for a recipe that incorporates cheese, chicken and veggies try this fast and yummy weeknight meal.
I will often boil too much pasta and rather than using it that night, I place it in a zippered freezer bag to use in a quick weeknight casserole. That’s how this Cheesy California Chicken Pasta was born. In my freezer I had a bag of frozen diced precooked chicken breasts (saved from a previously cooked pan of baked chicken), a container of cooked spiral pasta, and a bag of California veggie mix. I thawed the pasta and chicken in the refrigerator and then quickly mixed everything together to make a delicious casserole.
Feel free to use shredded rotisserie chicken or shredded boiled chicken or leave the protein out and make this a vegetarian meal or side dish.
If your family doesn’t like cheese or is lactose intolerant leave the cheese off or use an alternative cheese. Another delicious topping would be french fried onions, which can usually be found in the same aisle as croutons and salad dressing.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl mix 3 cups of cooked spiral pasta, 2-3 cups of diced chicken breasts (about 2 chicken breasts depending on their size), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can of milk, 1 Tbsp of dried parsley flakes, and 1 small bag of frozen California veggie blend. Place this into the casserole dish and top with cheddar cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes. I don’t add salt since the canned soups are salted and my chicken was seasoned when it baked, but I do add a little black pepper to taste. Note ** If you don’t want to use canned cream of chicken soup make your own by melting 2 Tbsp. of butter, adding 2 Tbsp. of flour and cooking for about 2 minutes whisking the entire time to avoid burning. Next add half of a chicken bullion cube. Slowly add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk while whisking to prevent lumps. Season with a tsp. of dried herbs like parsley, thyme, and sage. Once thickened this is ready to use in your casserole in place of the cream of chicken soup.