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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lightened-Up Grilled Chicken Cajun Penne

I had a big 'ol cheesy grin on my face when I took my first bit of this dish.  When you try to copy-cat a favorite recipe from a restaurant, it many times can turn into a big flop, leaving you wishing you just went to the darn restaurant in the first place, ordered your favorite dish and saved yourself the hassle.

When we lived in the big city {and by big city I'm saying a town of a few hundred thousand - not big by many of my readers standards}I really enjoyed eating at The Cheesecake Factory every now and then.  Yeah, yeah it's a chain restaurant and pretty standard, but I never had a bad experience and the food was always great!

And I love that one of my favorite comedies, The Big Bang Theory, references it A LOT.  Love that show.  Well, who I really love is Sheldon.  His annoying tendencies are hilarious.

So what I'm getting at is....I recreated of one of my favorite dishes there.....their Louisiana Chicken Pasta.  It's filled with more calories than probably a human should have in their daily allotment, but it's heavenly.

I've made this dish as a full-fat version before, but this time I vowed to make it a tad bit healthier.  And let me tell you, by doing that it did not sacrifice any flavor.

A tad bit spicy, a little creamy, yet light and not heavy.  You need to make this.  Okay?

Lightened-Up Grilled Chicken Cajun Penne
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced
1 1/2 c. penne pasta
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. butter
1 c. milk
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. mined onion

Do ahead: Make the cajun sauce by sauteing the bell pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes in butter until tender.  Add in milk, chicken stock, minced onion, salt and pepper and bring to a quick boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by about one-quarter.  Add in Parmesan cheese and simmer.  Take off the heat and let cool.  Can set aside while chicken cooks or prepare this well ahead and keep covered in the fridge.

On a hot grill pan or skillet, cook salt and pepper seasoned chicken over medium high heat.  While chicken is cooking, cook pasta according to directions.  When both chicken and pasta are done, drain and combine both and combine with the reserved cajun sauce  Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

This amount will serve 4, or if you're really, really hungry, just 2.  So plan accordingly!  As most know with my husband eating it served both of us with a teeny bit of leftovers.  Which he promptly ate the next day before I even had a chance to open the fridge.

Leftovers, especially GOOD leftovers don't stand a chance in our house.  I'm always amazed when I open other people's fridges {I'm not weird, I don't do that often, but you know when you are visiting places....}anyway, it always amazes me when there are containers and containers of random leftovers, most of which have been there awhile.

This rarely happens to us.

Okay, I've got to check out.  The more I look at this dish, the more I want to make it again.

Would you like to comment?

  1. That looks delicious Ally! It also reminds me of the cajun pasta my step-son used to get all the time at Friday's. My husband? Doesn't ever eat leftovers. Except for an occasional meatloaf sandwich, he won't touch one!