As the school year starts, I’m trying to get back into the swing of cooking on a regular basis (Thank you, summer and pregnancy, for all the eating out experiences). I’ve particularly been on the lookout for new, tasty recipes to add into my rotation.
Last week while shopping in Publix, I tried a sample of their Aprons Simple Meals chicken cheddar shells and thought it was worthy (aka kid friendly) enough to pick up a recipe card and try it at home myself. The biggest plus was that it was a one-dish meal.
Cost: Because I already had at least half of the ingredients stocked in my fridge or pantry, my shopping trip cost less than $15.
Time: This recipe card boasts a 35-minute total preparation time, but I found that ambitious. Granted, I took some extra steps like cooking raw bacon and as well as mixing my own Alfredo instead of using a jarred sauce. My total prep time was 35 minutes with a bake time of 15, putting this meal on the table in 50 minutes.
2 cups fresh broccoli florets (I used fresh ready-steam out of a bag in the produce section)
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese (blocks are sold in 8 oz., so I used the whole thing and didn’t find it too cheesy)
1 Deli rotisserie chicken (I used only the breast meat which gave me about 2 cups and then I had leftover meat for another meal)
6 slices precooked bacon (I cooked my own bacon and used only 4 slices)
8 oz. medium shells pasta
30 round buttery crackers, crushed (I used one sleeve of Ritz)
1 cup Alfredo sauce (I bought a Knorr packet and made my own)
½ cup ranch dressing (I used the fresh stuff- Marzetti’s Simply Fresh)
¼ teaspoon pepper
- Boil water
- While water is boiling, shred cheese and chicken as well as prep bacon (crumble it when done)
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Cook pasta and dump in the chicken and broccoli the last minute of cook time
- Place crackers in a Ziploc bag and crush
- Line bottom of casserole dish with crackers
- Drain pasta mixture and return to pot
- Stir in all remaining ingredients and mix well
- Spoon mixture on top of crackers
- Cover casserole dish with foil
- Bake in oven for 15 minutes
I coupled our dinner with a tomato, cucumber, fresh mozzarella, balsamic glaze salad, and voila!
Taste test: If you’re someone whose taste buds need a flavor explosion, this recipe might not be for you (although there’s quite a few ways you could spice it up). It certainly wasn’t bland, but I’d definitely label it a “family-friendly recipe.”
Would I make it again? Both my husband and daughter liked it, and I’ve been given permission to add it into the monthly rotation.
Would I change anything next time? I’d probably add more than just 2 cups of Alfredo sauce. Also, if you’re in a hurry at night, the mixture could be prepped at an earlier time and refrigerated. You would just cook it longer to make sure it is thoroughly heated.
Reheat: The next day I heated leftovers up in the microwave, and they were just as tasty (if not more so) than the night before.
Not bad, Publix, not bad.