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Forget Soups; Turn To a Summer Dip To Make a Fall Meal

by Kara Kimbrough


Just as my excitement over cooler weather as well as the possibility of making lots of soups, stews and chilis rose – you do remember cold weather food, right? – the temperature shot to near-80 degrees. Sadly, I put the stockpots and Crockpots back into the pantry and began searching for something that, like our clothing these days, would do the job without appearing too summer-like.

Luckily, I’d splurged on a gigantic container of spinach artichoke dip at Sam’s; an impulse purchase that, in hindsight, was looking less and less like a good idea. I was in the mood for chicken, pasta and a recipe that’d allow me to put the ingredients in a casserole dish, place it in the oven and turn on the air conditioning while it cooked.

After a little experimentation, I’m happy to announce that store-bought dip translates nicely into a main dish recipe. Using it instead of having to shop for artichokes, cheese and hard-to-manage frozen spinach turned out to be a good idea that I’ll undoubtedly utilize in the future. And yes, enough dip was left in the massive dip to serve with crackers the next time company dropped in.

Spinach Artichoke Chicken and Pasta

Ingredients:

- 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

- 1 tablespoon butter

- 1/2 cup onions, finely diced

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- Salt & pepper

- 1-2 cups spinach artichoke dip (add more or less according to taste)

- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

- 1 pound of pasta, cooked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut chicken breasts in half then season both sides with salt and pepper. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray; place seasoned chicken breasts in the bottom.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat then add onions. Season with salt and pepper then sauté until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic then sauté for 30 more seconds. Remove skillet from heat then fold in spinach dip and half the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Using a spatula, spoon mixture over chicken; then smooth and cover with a piece of foil. Bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and top with remaining cheeses. Bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving over pasta.

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