Baked Three Cheese Chicken Pasta – a Make Ahead Meal

The chicken was on its last leg.

Well actually, the chicken no longer had legs, as it had already fulfilled its glorious life purpose and had been cooked and made into a rich broth and good healthy meat for my family.

Regardless, legless though he was, the last little bit of cooked chicken in my fridge was indeed on its last leg.  It needed to be eaten. It could no longer be left alone…neglected, unused, and unwanted.

(It would appear that, apparently, I felt the need to create some chicken drama when all I really needed to say was:  ”I had leftover chicken- so I used it.”  I can’t just be normal.  What fun would that be?)

So the chicken - it was begging to be used.  I needed a quick lunch for the family.  But I needed to make the meal in the morning and have the capability to reheat it quickly at lunch time.  Therefore, I decided to play with my Three Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta recipe and make it into a “Make Ahead Meal“.  The chicken and I are happy to report that my idea worked, and the meal was delicious.

Actually, the chicken has nothing at all to report because not only is he not on his last leg anymore, he is officially gone.

Why?  Why do I say these things? I’m going to just give you the recipe already before I say anything else ridiculous about the chicken.

Baked Three Cheese Chicken Pasta

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (add more if you like)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large cooking pot, combine cooked chicken, uncooked pasta, milk, garlic powder, and sea salt.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until pasta is tender and the starch from the pasta has thickened the milk, creating a creamy sauce.  Remove cooking pot from the heat.  Stir in parmesan cheese and cream cheese until it is mixed throughout.

Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish.  (A 9×13 inch pan works well, or any variety similar in size.)  Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

If you make this ahead of time, you may need to adjust the baking time so that the casserole will be heated through and through.  Also, you can freeze this dish!  Simply thaw and bake in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes.

All this talk about chickens and legs kind of has me hungry for fried chicken legs, which pretty much makes no sense - unless you are in my brain and then it does make sense.  Oh people.  Be glad you are not in my brain.  It is not pretty.

So tell me, what do you do when your chicken is on its last leg? (Yes, I think I am actually talking about leftovers here.)

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Comments

  1. Lora says

    OH.MY.GOODNESS Laura, you are soooo funny :-) I am literally laughing out loud!! :-)This looks delish and now you have me salivating at 12:45am… Sheesh! Glad I have chicken in the freezer. I will be trying this!

    [Reply]

  2. Amy says

    Sounds good! I’m putting this on my recipes-to-try list!

    To answer your question, tonight I just turned a cup of leftover cooked chicken into Avgolemono Soup (Greek lemon egg chicken soup) – yum! Other standby favorites are Chinese chicken salad and anything Mexican (quesadillas, tacos, nachos, etc.).

    [Reply]

    Melisa Reply:

    please share this recipe! I LOVE lemon!

    [Reply]

    Allison Morrill Reply:

    That soup is our make in a pinch meal. We mix egg, yogurt and
    fresh lemon juice together and set aside (proportions really do
    not matter).

    We boil meatballs made with fresh parsley, garlic and a little
    rice in chicken stock. When the rice is cooked so are the meatballs.
    Take off heat and temper the yogurt mixture by putting a little hot
    broth into it, then pour the yogurt mixture into you broth. The broth will
    cook the egg.

    We also have made it vegetarian with just carrots and potatoes or
    the really easy (lazy) method is just add some small pasta.
    All are good and if you have broth/stock in the house
    the meal will be done in less than 15 minutes. We live in
    Albania and have to cook from scratch so 15 minute meals are a
    lifesaver.

    Our friend tops the soup with a drizzle of melted,
    slightly browned butter. Yum! (I usually skip this step)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Melissa,
    Here’s the recipe I use for Avgolemono Soup (I’m one of those people who MUST follow a recipe for anything I cook):

    RECIPE: Avgolemono Soup

    SOURCE: The Everything Soup, Stew, and Chili Cookbook
    MAKES: 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    6 cups chicken broth
    1/2 cup white rice
    6 eggs
    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
    pinch dried oregano
    2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
    Salt and pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    1. In a soup pot, bring broth to a boil over high heat; stir in rice. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

    2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until well beaten. Ladle some of hot broth into eggs, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture into soup; whisk quickly. Remove soup from heat.

    3. Add chicken, oregano, and parsley to soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in shallow bowls.

    [Reply]

  3. Misty says

    Last night we had chicken divan. It was super yummy and easy, and it used the last of the roasted chicken I made on Sunday. It is 2 garlic cloves and 2 tbsp minced garlic sauted for 5 mins, then add 1/4 cup flour until incorporated well. add 1/2 cup milk 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and boil. When it comes to a boil, add 3 oz shredded swiss cheese, and remove from heat. when the cheese is melted, the sauce is done. You take 2 cups blanched brocoli and put it on the bottom of a casserole dish, then half the sauce, then the chicken, I used about 1 cup, then the rest of the sauce. Top with 3 oz of shredded swiss, 3 oz shredded parmesan and 1/4 cup bread crumbs, bake 350 for 30 minutes. Super yummy, easy, and healthy, all in one.

    [Reply]

    Meghan V. Reply:

    Yum this sounds good! Now if only I had some swiss cheese on hand or left over chicken for that matter! :D

    [Reply]

  4. says

    (It would appear that, apparently, I felt the need to create some chicken drama when all I really needed to say was: ”I had leftover chicken- so I used it.” I can’t just be normal. What fun would that be?)

    Oh lordy. You crack me up. Chicken drama? CHICKEN DRAMA?!

    You mean I’m not the only one in this universe who tends to be melodramatic? I no longer have to plod through my days, head hung low, wailing and moaning, searching for another twisted soul of drama? I have found her.

    I am complete….

    [Reply]

  5. says

    Oh I needed this giggle this morning! I read it to my husband and he just gave me that “look”, the one that says “you’re nuts”. I was just thinking about the left over chicken in my fridge and I am going to make this tonight. I get the greatest inspiration from your recipes, thanks so much!

    [Reply]

  6. says

    Who would want to be “normal”? Things would be so boring if everyone was normal.

    This looks delicious.

    I have never cooked a whole chicken so I don’t know what I would do with leftovers. I still am buying the frozen chicken pieces from the grocery store and I usually make a crockpot dish or chicken noodle soup with them.

    [Reply]

  7. Marissa says

    I love ya, Laura. And not in a creepy stalker way, in more of like an “I love ya because you are a funny awesome Christ follower who makes me laugh literally every morning right when I need it” way.

    [Reply]

  8. Kati Stephens says

    Has anyone ever tried this method of cooking pasta with rice or corn pasta? I would like to try it, but thought I’d ask first if anyone knows if it works on gf pasta.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes! I’ve actually tried it with Tinkyada brown rice pasta and it worked great.

    [Reply]

    Kati Stephens Reply:

    Awesome! Thanks. We’re having this for supper tonight!

    [Reply]

    Esther Reply:

    Do you know if you can freeze brown rice pasta in a recipe like this? I love freezer cooking and adding pasta would be great! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure as I’ve never tried freezing it with the rice pasta before, but I think it should work.

  9. Sheri Beeker says

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I had leftover chicken and didn’t know what to make…it is made and ready to go in the oven for dinner tonight!!! Thanks!

    [Reply]

  10. Anitra says

    I make chicken pot pie if I’m in the mood for something creamy (it requires quite a bit of prep if you do it from scratch) or white chili in the crockpot. Actually just used up some leftover turkey in a pot pie last night!

    [Reply]

  11. Charlotte Moore says

    I have made chicken and barley soup or chicken and noodle soup and chicken salad many times with left over chicken. I even cook a whole chicken just to do that at times. I also have made a Weight Watchers, chicken and dressing.

    [Reply]

  12. Sarah Michelle says

    I’m always amazed that people can roast one chicken and have leftovers. We pick it dry around here and that’s 2 normal weight adults and one 3 year old. I always get a bit envious when people talk about how they use leftover chicken :-) Maybe I always end up buying the runts and need to look into buying meater chickens?

    I will cook up a bunch of boneless chicken breasts in the slow cooker sometimes and stretch that out into meals for a week. Some of our favorites are white chicken chili, lime chicken tacos, buffalo chicken dip (disgusting in my opinion, but the hubbie loves it), and of course Santa Fe chicken…put shredded chicken in slow cooker with black beans, corn and salsa and cook on low 4-5 hours and then stir in cheese until melted.

    [Reply]

  13. marcie says

    I took leftover turkey, the gravy, and mashed potatos, added sauteed vegetables, layered with the mashed potatos and baked it- a version of sheperd’s pie- delish!

    [Reply]

  14. says

    This recipe is really yummy! I didn’t end up baking it but just making it on the stove came out delicious. I’m going to be adding it to our favorites list! :) Thank You Laura.

    [Reply]

  15. Marie says

    Ok, so I’m gonna follow your blog like the bible! LOL! I am a full time manager at a retail store, mom with 3 children (ages 4, 3, and 4 months old) and my husband is super busy with his own business. I need some order in my life and feel that cooking meals and packing my oldest her lunch for school is very important. I can throw meals together when need be, but it’s too overwhelming and exhausting to try to think at the end of a work day. I like the idea of make ahead meals such as this one. But my silly question is do you completely cook this meal or do you skip the oven step until after its frozen and you’re ready to have it as a meal?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You skip the oven step until you’re ready to have it as a meal. :)

    [Reply]

  16. Sarah F says

    My kids are intolerant to all soy including the oil and even being processed on the same equipment. Soy isn’t allowed in the house. I’ve used the recipe for cream of chicken soup found at joyinmykitchen.com and it has served well for those recipies that must use cream of ——. Usually I don’t bother. It ends up using one more pan and I’m such a lazy cook.

    [Reply]

  17. Ann Marie says

    So glad I stumbled upon this! With the start of new school year and the desire to avoid the “We’re too busy, I’m too tired to cook so let’s eat out” trap I am trying to plan menus several weeks in advance and do some bulk cooking/freezer cooking. This will be a great recipe for the last day I needed to fill! Can’t wait to try it.

    [Reply]

  18. says

    I just have to let you know that I love your style of cooking! Every recipe we’ve tried so far has been a hit, and I’m all for simple and easy. Thank you so much!

    [Reply]

  19. Bev says

    Made this tonight for the first time and the whole family is going on about it and how good it is! Thank you, this is the 2nd recipe of yours we have tried and they are both keepers! :-)

    [Reply]

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