Chicken Cheese Tortellini Casserole (Freezer Friendly)

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You know That Feeling that strikes you on Those Days? Sometimes That Feeling is good, and sometimes it’s not so good, but recently in Godmotherland, That Feeling has been beautiful, and in turn, humbling. Remember last month when I shared my goals for 2014? I wanted to simplify so I could better appreciate the wonderful moments in life. I think it’s happened. I’m typing this post while baby girl is napping on my chest (I can spoil her a bit, it’s okay, she’s only little once), Dolce is curled up on another couch relaxing while The Great Mouse Detective plays, the Godfather will be home in the next hour or so so I can head to flamenco class, I have e-mails and messages with bookings in my inboxes, and I’m here writing this, for you. That’s simply beautiful. Look around and I bet you’ll see beautiful things too… simple, beautiful moments happening all together to make a perfect life cupcake. Mmmm… cupcakes.IMG_4731

We are not talking about cupcakes right now though, we are talking about casserole, which is funny, because I don’t consider myself a “casserole” person. My mom never made casseroles growing up and because most call for “cream of something or other” processed something, I never really experimented with recipes. But, you know, we’re up for new things, and anything that is baked in a casserole dish counts as a casserole, right?IMG_4732

While I was on maternity leave, a very sweet soul dropped off dinner for us one night, a tortellini casserole that was freezer friendly. We didn’t freeze it, but we loved it and decided we needed to recreate for freezing because 1. it was delicious, and 2. after the Valentine’s Day rush, we realized it might be practical to have a bit more food in the freezer reserves just in case so I don’t have to stop work to cook, clean up, then go back to work.

My kitchen assistant for last night's dinner

My kitchen assistant for last night’s dinner seemed a little uninterested in helping

On a total side note, did you know that in the 72 hours before and including Valentine’s Day (pickups Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), over 500 items (sugar cookies, French macarons, breads, brownies and cake pops) were baked and sent out of the Godmother kitchen? What a way to come off maternity leave (haha)! Thank you… IMG_4734

A small note about this dish, in the casserole I used freshly shredded Romano cheese because that’s what I had on hand. In the future, I would replace it with mozzarella or one of the Italian shredded cheese blends just because it would melt better. The Romano added great flavor, but as a hard cheese, it doesn’t give that satisfying ooey-gooey mouth-feel of the softer melting cheeses. I’d keep it for the topping and blend it with the shaved Parmesan instead. The chicken is also completely optional. I used it because I had some on hand, the original dish we tried didn’t have it and we didn’t miss it.

We paired the dish with an Arizona wine Leo picked out on our wedding anniversary trip last May.

We paired the dish with an Arizona wine Leo picked out on our wedding anniversary trip last May.

Chicken Cheese Tortellini Casserole 

  • 48 oz refrigerated tortellini
  • 3 1/2 cups tomato-based pasta sauce
  • 10 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian-blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese or mix of fresh Parmesan and Romano cheese, shaved or shredded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Cut the chicken into 1″ cubes. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until the garlic starts to soften and is fragrant. Add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water, only cooking for the shortest amount of recommended time. If you are planning to freeze, remove the pasta 2 minutes before the lowest recommended cooking time. Put the pasta in a large mixing bowl, add the sauce and mozzarella cheese. Mix to combine. Stir in the chicken.
  3. Divide the pasta between two 8×8″ baking dishes and either wrap for freezing, or cover with foil to bake.
  4. To bake the pasta from fresh: Preheat the oven to 375 F, bake the casserole covered in foil for 15 minutes until the Parmesan cheese on top is melted and slightly brown. To bake the pasta from frozen: Preheat the oven to 375 F, bake the casserole covered for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15.

 

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