Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spinach, Artichoke and Chicken Pasta

When I was a little kid growing up in Southern California my whole family would eat artichokes for dinner.  Mom would boil them on the stove and we would sit around the table for what felt like hours peeling back each leaf and dipping them in butter and scraping the soft goodness on our bottom teeth.  Who wouldn't love an artichoke?  I guess my husband doesn't.  I assumed all families steamed artichokes for dinner in the spring, but I guess that wasn't a big tradition here in West Michigan.  When we were first married I made James one for dinner and he said, "What is that?!"  Ha ha ha.  When I make this meal for him I cut the canned artichoke hearts up into small pieces and I tell him it's Spinach and Chicken pasta.  He eats it all up and never complains.  =)


3 C cooked chicken-chopped      3.84
1 lb penne pasta                            1.00
1 med onion--chopped                  .40
1 clove garlic--minced                    .05
1 box chopped frozen spinach     1.42
      (thawed and drained)
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts        2.42
         (make sure not to get the marinated ones)
3 Tbsp margarine
3 Tbsp flour
2 C skim milk                                 .30
1 1/2 C chicken broth                   .50
4 oz provolone                              1.18
   (shredded is best, all I can find is sliced--which I chop into small pieces)
3 oz shredded Parmesan             .98
S&P and a pinch of nutmeg to taste


Heat water in a large pot and cook the penne once the water comes to a boil.  My box recommended 11-13 minutes, so I cooked it to the lowest recommended time.   Meanwhile in another large saucepan heat the margarine, onions and minced garlic over med-low heat.  When onions are soft add the flour and stir well.  Gradually stir in milk and chicken broth to form a slightly thick sauce.  (it should be thinner than gravy)  Add salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.  Slowly stir in Parmesan and chopped up provolone.  The provolone makes the sauce a little sticky and stringy.  If you like smoother less gooey sauce, then just add more Parmesan and skip the provolone.  I like the provolone because it has a great tang.  Turn the heat to low and stir in drained thawed spinach and the chicken.  To disguise the artichokes, I chop off the end and quarter the remaining layers.

  Stir the sauce really well to incorporate the spinach, artichokes and chicken in the ooey gooey sauce.

Yum!  Doesn't that look like spinach and artichoke dip?  Mmmm  mmmh!  Turn the heat off.  Drain the pasta, and mix the pasta into the sauce untill well incorporated.
See?  You can hardly tell there is artichokes in there!  But this pasta tastes sooooo good.  It's like penne Alfredo and spinach & artichoke dip all mixed together.  I made three pans for $4.03.  One I put in oven to bake for dinner.  The other two went into the freezer for a later date.

Thaw for 1-2 days in the fridge.  Then bake covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. 

Christie aka Keeza

Shepherd's Pie

I know, I know.  Not everyone is a casserole fan.  So if you don't like all your food touching please skip this entry and tune in later.  This week I will also be posting a fabulous penne pasta with chicken, artichokes and spinach.  Yum!  Then this weekend, I'm going to be baking Grandma Betty's Bran Muffins and they freeze beautifully! 


3lbs red skinned potatoes          2.10
1 clove garlic--minced                   .05
1/4 cup skim milk                          
2lbs lean ground beef                  6.36
1 tbsp steak seasoning
one medium onion--chopped       .40
3Tbsp margarine
3Tbsp flour
5 C beef broth                               1.00
1 bag mixed frozen vegetables     .98


Rinse and chop the potatoes into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Add the garlic and cover with water in a large pot.  Boil until fork tender.  I like to leave the skins on, but you can substitute white potatoes and peel them.

In another large sauce pan brown the ground beef with the steak seasoning.  Remove and drain.  Add margarine and onion into pan and saute 3 minutes until soft.  Add the four and stir well to form a roux.  Gradually add in beef broth and cook until slightly thick.  Add in the vegetables and beef and heat through.  Pour into three 8x8 pans. 

At this point I like to put the pans in a flat spot in the freezer to let the beef mixture set up.  It makes it easier to top the beef mixture with the potatoes so the potatoes don't sink in.  Meanwhile drain the potatoes and mash them in a big bowl with the milk and some salt and pepper to taste.   I like to use a hand mixer. 

Once the beef mixture has been in the freezer for about an hour and the mashed potatoes have cooled.  Put the potatoes on top of the beef mixture in large spoonfuls. 

Top with foil and freeze.  When ready to cook, let thaw in fridge (2 days would be best) then bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour.   This makes great leftovers for lunches.  Yummy!  I was able to make 3 dinners for $3.63 each.

Enjoy!  Christie aka Keeza