Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I know I have had a lot of sponsored posts as of late, and not as many recipes, but things have been a little crazy around here.  My 5 year old has been sick for over 2 weeks now, and I just haven’t had the time to do  the blog planning, menu planning, or cooking that I had been doing before.  My little one had been dealing with allergies, and was getting along pretty well, but then got a virus that went straight to his chest and caused  the worst asthma flare-up he has ever had.  We ended up in the ER for the first time ever.  Can I just say…NOT. FUN. As he was trying to get over all that, he has gotten a sinus infection on top of it. AND ‘pink eye’…in both eyes. He is really having a hard time, and his poor little immune system can’t take much more! So, say a little prayer for his health, and my sanity. He was up and down all night last night due to the fever and discomfort. Needless to say, mama is tired!  It’s days like this when I love the ease (and comfort!) of a casserole.

I have seen a version of this recipe from numerous sources on Pinterest, and the first time I made it, I followed the directions and used raw chicken in the casserole…letting it all cook at one time.  The flavor was really good, but the casserole had a lot of “liquid” in it.  All I could think of is…’ewwww, chicken juice!’  The idea of my casserole floating in chicken fat just kind of grossed me out. However, I love Chicken Parmesan and decided to give the casserole another shot, but pre-cooking my chicken.
This is definitely my preferred method. Yes, it is an extra step, but it eliminates all the extra liquid.  I actually cooked my chicken in the crock pot, so all I had to do was shred the chicken when I was ready to prepare my casserole. However, I think I would prefer chunks of chicken in this, so next time I will just boil it. (I know, I’m picky right?!)
Chicken Parmesan Casserole

adapted from: Emily Bites

2 lbs cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (shredded or cubed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cups favorite pasta sauce 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 oz Parmesan cheese, divided (I didn’t actually measure this, I just sprinkled some on!)
3.5-5 oz bag of croutons, roughly crushed (I used a garlic and cheese flavor)


*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
*Spread the cubed chicken across the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) in a single layer. 
*Sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil evenly over the chicken. 
*Top chicken with the pasta sauce in an even layer.
*Sprinkle 1 cup of the Mozzarella and one ounce of the Parmesan evenly across the top. 
*Add the crushed croutons, then remaining cheese.
*Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 mins or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.


I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly’s Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!, Huckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxBlessed with GraceLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew Life (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My TimeCherished Handmade Treasures  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home (Saturday) Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ Stuff (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet Confessions 

Yay! This recipe has been featured at Nap Time Creations and the Weekend Potluck!

nap-time creations

Panzanella Salad

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of salads, but I am all about some bread.  So, give me a bread salad and I’m pretty happy.  Of course, ‘bread salad’ sounds boring, so we’ll call it by it’s Italian name….Panzanella Salad.  That makes it sound all fancy….except I white-trashed it up by adding bacon bits. (so now it’s sorta a BLT-nella salad, but let’s not get technical.)

As you can see, I went a little heavy on the bread! I also added spinach and arugula. (ok, AND bacon)  What can I say? I’m not Italian.

Panzanella Salad (or BLT salad)

loosely adapted from A Foodie Affair
  • 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes*
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced  I used cherry tomatoes and cut them in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar I omitted b/c I forgot to pick some up at the store
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers I used green pepper since that is what I had on hand
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted  I omitted b/c I hate olives
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  I used Asiago since that is what I had
  • Peppered bacon bits (optional)
  • Spinach & Arugula (optional)
*I bought my bread from the clearance bakery items at Wal-Mart & I think my cubes were closer to 1″ than 1/2!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Make dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. I used an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing based on A Foodie Affair‘s recommendation.
  3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green peppers, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
  4. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle with Asiago cheese and bacon if using! Add salad dressing and serve on a bed of spinach and arugula if desired.

The salad was delish, whatever name you want to give my version!

And let’s not forget…today is SEPTEMBER 11th.  I don’t care how long it has been…the very thought of what happened on 9/11 sends chills down my arms, gives me a heavy heart, and makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time.  I did not know anyone who lost their life during the attacks of 9/11, but I mourn for them. I remember them. And I cherish their memories and give thanks to all the heroes of that day.
I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!
 

I’m linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy’s Recipe Box, It’s a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace