I don’t normally take requests on Smart Cookie, the main reason being that I have a never-ending list of foodspirations: the recipe ideas I create or stumble upon that I vow to make in the future. My list is always growing, leaving little time for anything else. However, I was happy to make an exception for a friend of mine who asked for easy, inexpensive recipes she can make at college. She told me she’ll most likely be responsible for the brunt of the cooking in her dorm, but what she didn’t realize is that The Smart Cookie Cook will be there to help.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Smart Cookie College Cuisine: a new series that will feature easy and inexpensive recipes that can be made in your dorm’s kitchen, no sweat. Being in college is hard; the last thing you need to worry about is dinner. This series will take the stress out of collegiate cooking. However, these recipes aren’t just great for undergrads; they’re perfect for easy weeknight meals to feed your family.
lf you’re looking for simple, inexpensive, and downright delectable, Smart Cookie College Cuisine has got you covered.
Since Smart Cookie already provides a plethora of of easy, convenient recipes, I was ready for this challenge. I put my smart cookie brain to work and created this creamy, cheesy Easy Blush Chicken Bake: tender pasta and juicy chicken coated in a rich & creamy parmesan blush sauce, then baked underneath a blanket of melty mozzarella cheese. Sounds fancy, right? Well, don’t be fooled.
Here’s what makes this meal easy, inexpensive, and college cooking appropriate:
- Store-bought rotisserie chicken saves time and hassle. You don’t have to cook it or fuss with it; it’s ready to eat! Don’t worry; it’s cheap too.
- The sauce starts with Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Parmesan Basil, a new product from the soup company. You save time, avoid extra ingredients, and you get a smooth, flavorful sauce out of it.
- It takes little time to throw together.
- You can assemble it ahead of time, head off to class, then come back and bake when you’re ready to eat.
- It’s hearty & filling.
With this recipe, you’ll save time and money. Any level of cook can handle making it, but the results are so impressive that you’ll fool your roommates into thinking you’ve graduated from culinary school. It’s a comforting and hearty baked casserole that will fill you up after a long day of classes.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Got a vegetarian roommate? Leave out the chicken or keep it on the side.
- It doesn’t matter if you’re in college or not; this meal is great for any family. It’s hearty, nutritious, and will feed many mouths.
- Leave the mozzarella off the top to save calories.
- Cut in half if you’re only making this for two. Or make the whole recipe and freeze half.
- Serve with garlic bread. Yum!
- Buy two chickens when you go grocery shopping and save the extra one for making sandwiches the next day.
- You can skip the baking and serve straight from the pot if you’re short on time.
- Find Progresso Recipe Starters with the soup.
- Multigrain pasta is a bit more expensive, but also more nutritious and hearty. Personally, I think it’s worth it.
Easy Blush Chicken Bake
By The Smart Cookie Cook
Easily serves 4-6
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 cans Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Parmesan Basil
- 2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (omit if you don’t like heat)
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the water and add pasta. Cook until al dente, meaning that the pasta is tender but still has a little bite. Drain.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-in. baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute for two minutes. Pour in the Recipe Starters, marinara, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Let cook for 5 minutes then add the parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
- Remove from heat. Stir in pasta and chicken until thoroughly-coated. Pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.
*Yes, your vegetarian cook made a meal with meat. No, I did not eat the finished product. I did, however, save the chicken until the very end so I could try the pasta & sauce. Plus, my meat-eating parents loved it!