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.)