There are two ways to Heaven: living a morally righteous life and praying to a Higher Power of your choosing OR cooking and eating Cheesy Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake. For right around $20, and less than thirty minutes, you too can enjoy this flavorful dish. The rich flavors blend nicely, yet stay distinguishable. This is a great dish for any season of the year. It’s light enough for summer, but hearty enough for winter. For serving as a main dish, I recommend a spring salad, and Garlic Monkey Bread, or grilled asparagus on the side. It also works as a great side dish, which is what I plan on serving it as for Thanksgiving. Be careful, it does have a tendency of stealing the show at any family dinner!
First, you will need the following:
- 20 oz. canned chicken
- 1 jar Alfredo sauce
- ½ bushel diced green onions
- 5 oz. canned mushroom pieces and stems
- 1 lbs. Rotini Noodles
- 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 14 oz. Parmesan Cheese, shavings
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 3 oz. real bacon bits
The measurements for these ingredients are pertaining to the amount in the containers they come in. I buy one of everything, and two 10 oz. cans of chicken. I prefer Sun-dried Tomato and Herb chicken because it takes care of the seasoning part for me. I also use a premium brand of Alfredo sauce for a better flavor. When available, I like to get black label peppered bacon bits, again, for seasoning purposes. Otherwise, I stick to the original flavor but ALWAYS real bacon bits.
Next, you need to gather these materials:
- 9×13 casserole dish
- Large pot
- Medium pan
- Large mixing bowl
- A fork
Now comes the cooking.
I always start to boil a large pot of water on high first (half full) because it usually takes a while to heat up. To speed up the wait, I add a dash of table salt. Then, I preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once I have that going, I start the chicken on medium-high after draining the juices out. I use a medium-sized pan for this and give it a couple spritzes of Pam olive oil spray to avoid sticking. I do it as a precaution, but it’s not essential. The canned chicken is in chunks, so as soon as you start cooking, start to shred it. A fork works well for this, just mash it against the bottom of the pan until all the big chunks are gone. Another tool to use for this step is this thing:
My family has had it forever, and although I could not find this exact utensil online, Chef’s Planet sells a similar masher if you are interested in buying one yourself.
My family and I also use garlic salt on practically everything, so I also use it to season the chicken a bit. About three shakes works well for my family, but you can definitely adjust it to your preferences. To cut back on sodium, you can use garlic powder instead, or garlic pepper. I sprinkle it directly on the chicken while it is in the pan.
While the chicken is cooking, I stir it frequently but also start to make the sauce in a large bowl. First I pour in the Alfredo sauce and cream of chicken soup. Usually this is a good time to switch back to working on the chicken for a moment. By this time, the chicken should be close to being done. I drain the liquid from the mushrooms and mix them in. After letting this cook for about 45 seconds to a minute, I stir in the diced green onions. To dice them, I actually just cut them with scissors into 1/2 centimeter ringlets, this saves on time and dishes.
I let the chicken cook a little while longer with the green onions and mushrooms added to allow it to absorb some of the flavor. To pass the time, I switch back over to working on the sauce. Next, I add in the bacon bits and Mozzarella cheese. By this point, the chicken should be completely done. I immediately add it to the sauce and stir it with the same fork I used to cook the chicken. The heat from the chicken will melt the cheeses just enough to create a smooth texture.
By this time, or potentially a little sooner, the water should be boiling. Cook the full bag of Rotini noodles for seven minutes (or however long the bag says). I prefer to use a tricolor-ed variety to create a colorful dish, but the plain (boring) white noodles work just fine too.
At this point, (while the noodles cook and the sauce is done) I wash the pan I cooked the chicken in. I highly suggest this step unless you have a designated dish-washer in your household there is less clean up in the end.
After the pasta is finished, and you drain the water, pour it into the 9×13 in. casserole pan. If you layer it pasta-sauce-pasta-sauce then it makes it easier to mix it all together, or you can just pour it in one at a time. Once both the sauce and the pasta are in the pan, mix it with the fork until all the noodles are evenly coated.
Now it is ready for the Parmesan cheese. I prefer the shavings, but shredded works well too, practically anything except the powdered cheese that goes on pizza. Evenly spread the cheese across the surface of the pasta.
The last step is to bake it in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until the cheese on top starts to turn a golden brown. I tend to wash the remaining of my prepping dishes at this point and set the table for dinner.
It serves anywhere between 8-12 people. If you have leftovers (unlikely) it warms up great for lunch the next day.