I am over my temper tantrum from last week.
I spent most of this weekend thinking about life, my friends and family. One year ago my mother-in-law died at 96 years-old after an amazing life. She loved her seven children, 25 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren (and still counting) and all their spouses and significant others. Born in 1917 she lived through the Depression, World Wars, changes in society and technology. Her life was a testament to her faith. We celebrated her all weekend with stories and toasts to a life well lived.
Then Saturday night I heard of a friend from college that died suddenly far too young. He had a wife and two small children. Mommies and Daddies aren’t supposed to die. This isn’t the first classmate I have lost but it is the first from this group of college friends. We learned together that family doesn’t mean the people who you are born to group you are born into. Family is the people who deserve our love and we choose when the ones who are supposed to love you unconditionally can’t or just don’t. We celebrated holidays and birthdays together. We always made sure that everyone was taken care of. We have all drifted apart over the years, some staying in closer contact than others, but I still think of them as my family.
So, I have spent most of this weekend thinking of love, loss and family. Where does this take me and what am I to do with it? I am not entirely sure but there are changes ahead. First of all to reconnect with the people in my chosen family. Then take things from there.
But, life goes on…. My family wants to eat, clean clothes and a driver to their next lesson. Life will go on but I will never be the same for having these two wonderful people in my life.
So, onto life and having to make dinner for my family. We had a fairly relaxing weekend so I wanted to keep dinner light and easy. We are coming to the end of the month (pay-day!) so I was searching my pantry for ingredients for dinner. I have tons of frozen chicken because boneless, skinless breasts were $1.49 a while back and I bought 30-40 pounds of them and frozen them in different cuts for times like these. I found a bottle of Creamy Cesar Dressing and a box of pasta. Eureka!
Chicken Caesar Casserole.
This was delicious. Everyone was eating it right from the bowl before I even got it in the pan. It was good cold and heated up. So, if you don’t want to heat your kitchen up too much don’t bake it. Serve it as a cold dish or a warm dish. There was enough for two lunch servings the next day.
- 1 lb. chicken breasts
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 box (12 oz.) pasta
- 2 cups good creamy Caesar dressing or creamy Parmesan peppercorn dressing, you may also make your own
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 cup crushed garlic/Parmesan croutons
- Salt and pepper, as needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Boil chicken with garlic powder in large saucepan over medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate to cool. Dice chicken when cool.
- While chicken is cooling prepare pasta to al dente according to package directions.
- Drain pasta when cooked. Pour into a large bowl.
- To the pasta add diced chicken, Caesar dressing, diced pepper, mozzarella cheese and sharp cheddar cheese to the bowl. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. The mixture can be served at room temperature at this point with Parmesan Cheese and croutons sprinkle over the top. To bake continue.
- Pour pasta mixture into the casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the top with the crushed croutons and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes until croutons and top of casserole begin to lightly brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.