Chicken penne bake makes a tubular dinner

I have been completely, head-over-heels in love with the warm weather.

If I wouldn?t melt down into asthmatic wheezing due to the remnant cough from a cold I had last week, I would be spending half my time whirling around, Julie Andrews style, in a field somewhere.

With that said, I?ve had little interest in being stuck in the kitchen with all the beautiful weather to enjoy, and I doubt I?m alone. Plus, who has time to cook with all the crazy activity of spring starting up? At the high school, we?re dealing with everything from spring sports practice to prom planning.

In the spirit of spending more times outdoors and less time making dinner, I?m sharing a nice, quick recipe for chicken penne with you this week. This can be done even quicker if you make a little extra chicken with another dish or purchase a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and shred some of it.

The original recipe comes from a blog called ?Sugarcrafter.? You can find the original post at http://sugarcrafter.net/2010/05/25/chicken-penne-bake/.

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Chicken Penne Bake

Ingredients

16 ounces penne pasta (I used wheat)

2 cooked chicken breasts

6 ounces fresh spinach leaves

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

24 ounces tomato sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Cook the pasta according to package directions (use a large pot that you can use for the rest of the steps so you only dirty one while making this recipe).

Place the spinach leaves in a colander and drain the pasta over top of it to wilt it.

Pour the sauce and spices into a large pot and simmer until heated through. Add in the chicken, pasta and spinach and stir to combine.

Add in half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, stir, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until it?s heated through.

We enjoyed this meal, and it?s an easy way to sneak a veggie into your meal for your picky eaters.

Plus, it gives you more time to spend outside, enjoying the fact that spring has sprung, or at the very least, it gets you out of the kitchen and on your way to the next activity.

When not helping husband Joey with newspaper work, Lindsey teaches speech, debate and forensics at Haven High School. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.