Hands down the worst thing about cooking when you live alone is the portion sizes. I didn’t cook a lot before I got married, partly due to laziness and lack of interest, but mostly because of the fact that a full-size recipe would make six (or more!) meals for me. Now, this is great if you’re frugal and efficient and don’t experience “food fatigue,” but for me it’s like a jail sentence of boringness and lameness and nothing to look forward to. Needless to say, I never really cooked much until I had someone else to help me eat.
Amazingly enough, not everyone is like me in this regard. One of my old roommates was masterful at this make-one-meal-and-eat-it-for-days technique. She would make something yummy and interesting and healthy on a Sunday afternoon and then eat it alllllll week. Lunch AND dinner. I envied her, because she spent way less money and time on food than I did, but I just couldn’t force myself to follow her lead. To be honest, I’m not even wild about eating leftovers two nights in a row, let alone every meal for a full week. I have no doubt that this woman will one day turn out to be a millionaire or a Nobel Prize winner or something else equally awesome as a result of her superior use of time and money, but I’ve never been able to change my ways. Le sigh.
The following recipe was a staple in my old roommate’s diet. And if you are going to eat the same meal five days in a row, this isn’t a bad choice – it’s got some veggies, some carbs, some lean protein, and some delicious Monterey Jack cheese. It’s interesting and fairly healthy and well-balanced. I went ahead and made an entire batch of this for just the husband and I, but instead of declaring that we would eat it until it was gone, I threw the rest of it in the freezer for a rainy busy day. Personal growth! Here’s the recipe:
CHICKEN FLORENTINE ARTICHOKE BAKE (adapted from my old roommate’s recipe)
8 oz farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (I poached them for 15-20 minutes, then chopped them into bite-sized pieces)
1 8-oz package shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, chopped small
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, with water squeezed out
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain (cook only to al dente, since it’ll cook more in the oven). Heat 1 tbsp butter in small skillet over medium heat; add onion and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt and pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir in chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, artichokes, spinach, sundried tomatoes, cooked pasta, onion, and half of the Parmesan. Transfer to 9×13 pan.
- Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for approximately 20 minutes. Combine remaining Parmesan, bread crumbs, paprika, and 1 tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
I love this recipe for how it sneaks three different vegetables in while still tasting like a cheesy, gooey, baked-pasta casserole. The sundried tomatoes are a really nice touch. If you were going to eat one meal every day for a whole week, this wouldn’t be a bad choice.