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Feeding Hungry Athletes …and Families!

Feeding Hungry Athletes …and Families!

January 23, 2012
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All three of my kids have been in sports and most recently my daughter was one of the swim team captains. Over the years, I have worked on multiple "carbo-load dinners."

I understand from my dietician friends that "carbo-loading" (eating lots of carbohydrates like pasta) really only applies to endurance athletes. That doesn’t matter to the kids - these dinners are fun! The kids eat, the parents marvel at the volume consumed, and usually the host parents are thrilled at the wonderful manners the kids show as they thank their hosts for the bounty. At our local high school, even the speech team has had carbo- load dinners. There’s nothing like sharing a meal together to build strong bonds on a team or in a family.

The team dinners I’ve worked on are usually put on by a group of parents and served either at someone’s home or in a meeting spot at the school where practices are held. I’ve seen anywhere from 30-100 hungry athletes being fed at these meals. Providing hearty, easy to transport, and easy to serve food is essential. With that in mind I was inspired to try Creamy Alfredo Chicken Casserole. I am happy to report that this recipe was quick, tasty, and a hit with my family!

To begin, preheat the oven. Put the pot of water on to boil the pasta, and assemble the ingredients- bowtie pasta, half & half, Alfredo sauce, roasted red peppers, pesto, chicken, Italian seasoning, breadcrumbs and butter.

The recipe was easy to prepare especially since it called for a purchased rotisserie chicken from the deli of my local grocery store. My son helped me cut the meat off the bones while I worked on other tasks.

We got almost 4 cups of meat from one chicken. I saved the extra meat to make soup with canned chicken stock another night. If you don’t have time to buy a cooked chicken, use some leftover grilled chicken, or sauté chicken breasts. (See the recipe tip for instructions.)

Then I chopped up the roasted red peppers. You buy these in a jar at the store. I found them in the Italian foods section, but sometimes you will find them in the condiments section. The peppers give great color to this casserole. These peppers are perfect to have on hand for sandwiches, too.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until tender.

Drain the pasta and set it aside. Combine the Alfredo sauce, half and half, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add the peppers…

cooked chicken, and pasta.

Gently stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a greased casserole. I used a 2-quart square dish, but you could use a round dish or whatever size 2-quart pan you have. A 13x9 pan works great also, just decrease the baking time. Since the ingredients are all cooked, you are just getting the ingredients hot. Cover and bake for about 15 minutes.

While the dish is baking, I melted the butter in a small dish in the microwave. Be sure to cover the dish in case of spattering. Then I mixed the melted butter with the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning.

Sprinkle this topping over the casserole

and continue baking, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes until the casserole is bubbly.

This dish is quick to put together and makes a great meal with a salad, some crunchy bread, and a vegetable.

I refrigerated the leftovers and found the casserole reheated wonderfully in the microwave for my lunch the next day. Another plus!

I will definitely be using this recipe for my next carbo-load dinner and have added it to my family favorite recipe list. For a team dinner, I will double the amount I make because I know how much kids can eat. We’ll serve this dish along with a couple of other main dishes, lots of salad, fruit, and fresh veggies. Good food plus laughter always equals fun in my book!

I hope you will enjoy Creamy Alfredo Chicken Casserole with your family too. Make sure to come back and rate and review the recipe once you’ve tried it.

Come back in a few days when Amanda will share a tasty potato side dish recipe.

Vicky is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.

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Hi it sounds delicious!!! What kind of Alfredo sauce do you use??

Posted May 22, 2012 by Tina
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Vicky
Thanks for your question! I use a 10 ounce container of refrigerated sauce I found by the refrigerated pastas in the dairy area of the store. Any brand works. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am thinking you could measure about 1 ¼ cup of sauce from a jar of alfredo sauce if you can’t find the refrigerated sauce.
Posted May 25, 2012

I'm a picky eater who usually likes each food separate on my plate, but I like Italian food so I think I might like this dish. Do you think it would be good with sundried tomatoes added?

Posted January 23, 2012 by
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Vicky
We haven’t tested this recipe with sun dried tomatoes, but your idea sounds great! I would add a ½ to 1 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (drained) in place of the red pepper. If you try it, let me know how it works.
Posted January 26, 2012

Looks great - a must make when we have a group of youth at our home!

Posted January 23, 2012 by Dianne
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Vicky
Dianne, Let me know if it’s as big a hit at your house as it has been at mine!
Posted January 26, 2012