Since the New Year, I’ve been making it a point to eat healthier. I’ve been doing great… since I started back on my “life change” (I hate the word “diet”), I’m already down 6 pounds! That’s all of the “holiday weight” that I gained from Thanksgiving thru New Year’s. So that’s great! And I’m super motivated, so I have faith that I’ll lose the rest of what I gained over the fall when I fell off the wagon.
But sometimes, you just need something with carbs & cheese.
I’ve been doing so well the past 3 weeks, lots of veggies, fruit & even trying new things. But – I was craving some carbs & some cheese like WHOA. Now I’m not going to say I cut out either of those over the last 3 weeks, because I certainly had both. I even had a trip to the Olive Garden! But I certainly hadn’t made myself any pasta at home in a very long time… probably not since Christmas Eve!
Which then reminded me of my Spin Dip, which I make every Christmas Eve…. Mmmm… It’s SO good. I found this Slow Cooker recipe years ago in some sort of magazine. I follow it exactly as it’s listed…. You don’t mess with perfection.
And then I came up with the brilliant idea…. Why don’t I combine my Spin Dip, full of healthy stuff – like spinach & artichokes (plus some other not so healthy stuff), & combine it with some pasta & alfredo?! Sounds like a GREAT idea!
The result? An AMAZING dinner! What I like most about it is you can make this with regular ingredients or you can lighten it up a bit & use a healthier pasta, light ingredients, etc. I’m going to give you the recipe exactly how I made it – which is a combo of “regular” & “light” as I was using up some of what I had in the pantry already. Making this dish with the same ingredients as I had came out to be 374 calories per serving… definitely not as bad as I thought it would be. The best part of all? It satisfied my craving for cheese & carbs & I have leftovers for the week!
Without further adieu, I present you with the recipe for:
Spinach, Artichoke & Chicken Penne Alfredo Casserole.
- 1 1/2 cups of dry penne (or pasta of your choice)
- 5 oz. of cooked, shredded chicken breast
- 9 oz. of chopped frozen spinach, drained
- 1 – 13 oz can of artichoke hearts
- 1 tbs of garlic salt
- 2 tbs of mayonnaise (use light mayo to lighen this up!)
- 3/4 cup of light alfredo from a jar (you can also use “regular”)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (use skim to lighten this up!)
- 1/4 cup of Italian breadcrumbs
First start by cooking your chicken. I like to toss mine on the George Foreman grill for recipes like these. Once the chicken is started, get your water going to cook your pasta.
While the chicken & pasta are cooking, start the prep work on draining your (thawed out) frozen spinach (I like to use Green Giant because it comes in a plastic pouch inside the box, so you can let it thaw overnight in the fridge) & chopping up your artichoke hearts. You can add these to a bowl together, along with your garlic salt & mayonnaise.
When your chicken has finished cooking & cooled a little, you can start to shred it out into smaller pieces. You could also slice it up if you prefer.
Once your pasta has finished cooking & you’ve done all of the prep work, it’s time to combine all of the ingredients into a larger bowl. Start by mixing your pasta, alfredo sauce & 3/4 cup of your mozzarella into a bowl. Then add your chicken, spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic salt & mayonnaise. Mix well & transfer to a 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish, vintage Pyrex optional ;-). Top evenly with bread crumbs & remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Place covered casserole into a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes & then enjoy! Serves 4.
Did you try this recipe? If so – let me know what you thought. If you put your own twist on it, please share!