Baked Chicken Penne {Freezer Meal!}

We get a lot of emails requesting ideas for freezer meals.  This is another great one to make for a Valentines Day dinner.  I make a pasta dish quite often that is almost identical to this, only I use my Guiltless Alfredo sauce.  It’s actually become a Valentines Day tradition for my husband and I.  This version is a bit naughtier, and richer and completely delicious.  And the bonus is that it makes enough for 2 pans, one to eat and one to freeze.  It takes more time to make than my quick guiltless version so I like that when I put in the time to make it I get two meals out of it!  It’s a creamy cheesy sauce with penne pasta, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms.  I don’t even like mushrooms and they’re fantastic here.

To begin, boil penne pasta in some salted water.  You’ll want to cook it just a couple minutes short of al dente.  Check the back of the box and it will tell you how long to cook until the al dente stage and just knock a couple of minutes off of that.

While the pasta is boiling heat up a skillet with a little oil in it.  Season your chicken with salt and pepper and then pop it in the skillet to sizzle up.  It will be done in about the same amount of time as the pasta.  After it cools for a minute, slice it up.

Since your skillet is already hot and oiled, toss the mushrooms in there to saute for a few minutes

Now you’ll start making the sauce.  It begins with a roux.  That may sound like a scary word, but it’s not, I promise.  In a large pot you’ll melt some butter and then add some flour (to thicken) and some minced garlic (because everything is better with garlic)

As you whisk that together to cook you’ll add in milk and bring it to a simmer to form the sauce.  Then you’ll throw in the mushrooms as some sundried tomatoes.

I seriously LOVE sundried tomatoes.  Just had to get that out.  Then off the heat you add in a mixture of parmesan and provolone cheeses, some salt and pepper, and  your chicken.    It’s that easy!

Pop it into 2 dishes.  One to eat and one to freeze, or two to freeze, or two to eat.  You’re the boss, you pick.

If your going to eat one now, then sprinkle more cheese on top.  If you’re going to freeze it, then put it in a baggie.

To eat immediately, just bake it for about 25 minutes so all of the flavors melt together and the cheese gets all bubbly


 

We hope you all have a wonderful Valentine”s day!  Make sure to tell all of your loved ones that you love them! (Oh, and eat lots of chocolate 🙂

81 comments

  1. Looks divine! And thanks for the tip on finding your freezer meals all in one spot. I made a froze chili-lime steak and it was delish!

  2. This looks and sounds wonderful! I have only purchased sun-dried tomatoes once in my life but love them in meals I've had elsewhere. I noticed at the store that they come packed in a couple different ways. Is there any type that is better to purchase than another? Is there any form that is easier to work with?

  3. We are having this for dinner! One question though… could you substitute roasted red peppers for the sundried tomatoes? My husband is not a fan of tomatoes and I was wondering if you thought that might be a suitable sub? Otherwise, he may just have to deal with it 🙂

  4. Oh, and thanks for pointing out the magical magnifying glass! Now, that you mention it, that icon makes total sense for a search engine, one that I have wished you had many times! Now I know it was always there!

  5. The first thing that caught my attention was the word FREEZER. Then I noticed the MUSHROOMS, and finally SUN DRIED TOMATOES – I am definitely going to give this one a try!

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

    🙂
    ButterYum

  6. I didn't know what that magnifying glass was for! I'm so glad you have that—but I have become very familiar with the index. love it all!

  7. oh this looks soooo yummy!! i can't wait to try it!! 🙂

    sara
    also thank you for pointing out the search engine! it's so obvious everyone missed it! lol

  8. This looks DEE lish! Can't wait to make it. Thanks for sharing! I do have one question… Would I be able to substitute sliced provolone for the shredded? I can't seem to find shredded or even a block that I could shred myself.

  9. Margot- check out this link about sundried tomatoes:

    http://www.ourbestbites.com/2008/04/sun-dried-tomatoes.html

    CrazyJay- yes, you could totally substitute roasted red peppers, that would be yummy!

    JKbandy- you're right, provolone can be hard to find. I normally don't encourage the use of pre-shredded bagged cheeses, but in this recipe I've used a *good* quality one, like Sargento, and it's turned out great. Actually in this batch I used Sargento's Provolone/Mozzarella mix. It's often mixed with other white cheeses and that's totally fine. The other option is to go to the deli department where you can buy sliced cheese. Just ask for a big chunk and you can grate it yourself.

  10. Thanks for the response Sara. I just realized that you already wrote about the cheese and I probably should have read the rest of the recipe! 🙂

  11. OMG! That sounds so-o good. I'm going to have to try it! I didn't know about the magnifying glass. Thanks for sharing that!

  12. This looks similar to my favorite pasta at Macaroni Grill! Great idea to make two and freeze one!

  13. just had this for dinner and it was SO yummy! everyone loved it. i'm making it this week for a lady from church who needs some meals. thanks again for another good one!

  14. How funny I just made a very similar dish for dinner tonight – the only difference is that I used tomatoe and basil sauce and mixed goat cheese and mozarella cheese with it..it turned out incredible!

  15. I love freezer meals. For some reason, I always seem to freeze soups, but very few other dishes. Thanks for the reminder that other stuff can be frozen, too. Love this recipe!

  16. This is fabulous! My entire family devoured it, including my almost 2-year old son who currently eats only applesauce, yogurt, oatmeal, and bananas. I can't wait to cook the one sitting in my freezer. 🙂

  17. This sounds like a great recipe, and I can't wait to try it. However, I question placing a casserole dish from the freezer into a pre-heated oven. This is precisely how the dish known as "Exploding Chicken" was created at my best friend's house. I've had casserole dishes and Pyrex shatter on me in the oven, and it's not fun to clean up the mess. I would place the frozen dish in a cold oven and then turn on the heat, letting the temperature rise gradually, rather than shove a frozen dish into a hot oven.

  18. knitwych- If you read the instructions, it tells you to use a disposable foil pan for the dish going in the freezer. Don't worry, they don't explode 🙂

  19. So good. I tried it last night because I needed something new for dinner. So, so delicious. Husband ate nearly all of it! Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Sara @ Our Best Bites said…

    knitwych- If you read the instructions, it tells you to use a disposable foil pan for the dish going in the freezer. Don't worry, they don't explode 🙂


    Ah – I missed that line when I was reading the recipe. Must've been when the cat was doing her "I want mah dinner" march back and forth across my computer. Sorry.

  21. This sounds amazing minus the mushrooms which I am allergic too. I'm adding to the the new recipes to try list.

  22. this was such a hit w/adults and kids alike. this will definitely become part of our regular meals…I compare it to a baked ziti, except w/a white sauce (instead of red) and chicken (instead of sausage). yum! thanks! any tips of finding cheaper sun-dried tomatoes? I could only find them for $5/6 oz…so I left those out.
    oh, and I made the paninis today too…such a hit w/everyone!
    (jodihlee@gmail.com)

  23. I made this last night and it was RIDONKULOUSLY delicious! Oh my, will make this one again and again

  24. Glenda, I've never tried it with lowfat milk, but I bet it would work just fine. If you try it, let us know!

  25. Do you bake this dish frozen? 1 1/2 hours at 400 seems like a long time. what baking time do you suggest for thawed out dish in individual servings?

    Thanks so much
    Karen

  26. DinnerCravings- yup, it's correct as written. When frozen solid it takes quite a while to thaw out! If you're baking it thawed, just use the non-frozen directions. Increase time if the dish is chilled, and decrease if it's in individual servings. Keep in mind you're not cooking anything here, you're just heating it through, so you can eyeball it.

  27. Thanks Sara. In general do you find you have better results baking dishes frozen or thawing in the fridge overnight first? As you can tell I'm freezer frightened. I usually do fresh service but some clients request frozen so I'm trying to learn all I can.

  28. Most things work great from frozen, and it's super convenient. Trust us- we wouldn't write it out in the directions if it didn't work well!

  29. That looks fantastic. Super easy. I tried the drop down list for "Freezer Meals" and it says there are no posts with that tag. Just an FYI

  30. I was so happy to run across your website a couple days ago! I made this last night and used pimientos del piquillo (roasted red peppers) instead of sun dried tomatoes and the roasted red peppers tasted great too! I am living in Spain and I have two Italian roommates and one Spanish roommate. They are always interested to see what the American is cooking:) Last night I asked if they wanted to eat what I was making and they said sure…they loved it! 🙂 I loved it too…and I have my extra pan in the freezer for when I want to break that out.

  31. This dish is so easy and FAST to make. My husband LOVED it. I opted to leave out the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes (because my family hates these two vegies) and it was still delicious. Thanks for the great recipe.

  32. A friend of mine recently referred me to your website and I LOVE it. I tried this recipe yesterday and modified it just a bit – I made it with half white sauce and half red sauce (just split your white sauce recipe in half) and it was delicious! thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  33. I made this today with artichoke hearts instead of sun dried tomatoes, and it was amazing! Thanks!

  34. Made it last night and entire fam loved it – including husband who doesn’t like mushrooms. I made 2 healthy changes and it was still fabulous: used whole wheat pasta, and I used skim milk instead of whole. It was great!

  35. Just made this tonight and everyone loved it! My 2 year old exclaimed “yummy!” “I lub it!” and “more, more” throughout dinner. 🙂

  36. Another successful meal. My entire family gobbled it up. You ladies are awesome…keep the recipes coming!!!

  37. Just want to confirm that you only need one box of pasta for two dishes (one to eat now and one to freeze later)? Please confirm…thanks!

  38. This looks absolutely delicious! I bet some wilted baby spinach would be divine in this as well (maybe thrown in after the mushrooms?).

    You have my lifelong adoration for your chicken taquito recipe with creamy lime-cilantro dressing for the dip. To. Die. For.

  39. I’m re-naming this “If Loving You is Wrong I Don’t Want to Be Right Pasta.” SO good! And, an added bonus, all my kids loved it – even my picky 2 year-old!

  40. I made this tonight and everyone loved it. I used 1% milk and it was fabulous. Plenty rich and creamy. Nice bonus to have an extra batch in the freezer, too.

  41. I second the question about using sun-dried tomatoes that aren’t packed in oil. The oil-packed ones are pretty expensive, so I’m wondering if there’s a way to make it more economical.

  42. Hi Ladies! Found your blogsite off a sister in the ward’s FB page and have to say I LOVE it. Love that the food is diverse and that the recipes are well written and simple to follow for the average cook (moi!). I’m planning on taking this pasta dish to a ward potluck because can freeze ahead. Wish me luck.
    P.S. I even like your craft ideas. There is hope for me yet. 🙂

  43. I made this, it was seriously gross. I’ve made alredo pastas before, and making it with flour? It was gross. And now I have some in my freezer that I have no idea what to do with. Would NOT recommend this to anyone!

    1. Brianne, most white sauces are made with flour, it’s a basic (and very common) cooking process known as a roux. The taste of the flour isn’t even noticeable if the roux is cooked properly, so I suspect you perhaps made an error in the recipe. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this dish, so I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it!

  44. Follow up on the question re substitution for oil-packed tomatoes: I got some dry sun-dried tomatoes, poured boiling water over them, and then tossed them with a little olive oil and let them sit for about an hour. They worked great! I LOVE this recipe, and so do my husband and my 2 year-old son! He always asks for seconds…thirds… :o)

  45. Please help me I’m not sure what I am doing wrong! I’ve made this dish 2 times now because we LOVE the flavor. The only thing is I can never get my sauce to thicken? The first time I did it I thought I must have done something wrong so I tired it again because we thought it tasted so good. But the second time the same thing happened? When I pour it into the dish to bake, it is soup… nothing is sticking to the pasta! I cook my roux for about a min until it clumps all together then add my milk??? I hope you can help me because I really want to make this dish right. Thanks!

    1. Raquel, if your roux is lumpy it might be holding up the flour you need for thickening. Try adding the milk just a little bit at a time, while whisking vigorously. If it’s still lumpy you may want to pop the sauce in a blender. Once it’s smooth, bring it up to a simmer and let it thicken. You might not be cooking it long enough- hope that helps!

  46. We made BATCHES and BATCHES of this for my brothers rehearsal dinner last summer. IT was the hit of the dinner!
    Somehow, I didn’t put it in my dinner rotation and now that we are expecting baby #3 this summer, I remembered it! Making one for dinner tonight and one for the freezer for ease when the baby comes! It is delicious!

  47. I made this today. My family loved it! I subbed roasted peppers for the tomatoes because I didn’t want to spend $6.57 for a jar! Instead of putting the other one in he freezer I gave it to a friend who just had an emergency c-section. I loved being able to make two dinners at the same time without too much headache.

  48. Made it tonight, yummy!! I did have to add a lot of pepper and salt though, because it tasted a little too floury, but it was a hit! I loved being able to make 2 dishes in one, one for us and one for a friend. I will make it again for sure!! thanks.

  49. for those having trouble with the sauce being too thin, or tasting floury – it might be b/c you are not cooking the butter/flour long enough. I sometimes even cook it for 2 minutes, just to be safe. Just stir like crazy during this process, and when adding milk – very, very slowly.
    I will be trying this recipe soon – looks great.

  50. I just came across this recipe and it looks so yummy. I can’t wait to try it! It would be a perfect meal to make for yourself and to have on hand for when a friend in need may need a break from cooking. Thank you!

  51. If you’re making this with the guiltless Alfredo sauce do you need to double the guiltless recipe or will it make enough to cover the 1 lb of pasta and bake correctly? Thanks!

  52. Thank you for sharing this recipe it was a hit with my very picky husband which is truly a compliment! I’ll be making it in the future for sure. I just tweaked it a bit and quartered fresh cherry tomatoes in place of the sundried tomatoes. Also, I chopped up some fresh oregano and mixed these two ingredients into the pasta mix just before baking.

  53. I just made this to freeze, but I was wondering how long it would keep if I stuck one of the dishes in the fridge?

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