Today is the last day of March. Besides the fact that we’re about to be 1/4 of the way through 2014 and it feels as if it just began yesterday, we got SNOW yesterday. SNOW. Like the cold, white stuff that falls from the sky in the WINTER. Last time I checked, we were well into Spring. I know, you have such little sympathy for me :P
On another note, I bought a Kindle. Yup, I did it. It just seemed like the best investment. I went back and forth with the whole Nook, iPad mini, and Kindle dealio but I only wanted a device strictly for reading and no interruptions so iPad mini was definitely out of the picture so then Nook vs. Kindle. Well, I already am a devoted Amazon Prime member and B&N doesn’t seem like they’re doing too well sooo Kindle it was! Plus, 85% of you vouched for a Kindle Paperwhite. Oh, the best part was that it was on sale for $20 off at Best Buy so win-win all-around! And with that new purchase, I finished the Divergent series with Allegiant and basically bawled my eyes out in my office. I don’t understand why everyone thought that was a bad book or that it had a bad ending. I thought it was wonderful!
Do you get super attached to characters in books that you read (especially trilogies for me) that after you finish the series, you feel kinda empty inside? I wasn’t exactly bawling because of the ending or the events, but moreso for the fact that an amazing series has ended and now I have to find something else to replace it and I don’t want to because I loved the characters so much. Yeah, I’m totally crazy, aren’t I? I told myself I can’t read another dystopian trilogy for a while. I need time to mourn the end of the Divergent series (see? I’m totally crazy). I tried to find a happy/chick-lit book but all the ones I want to read, I’m saving for the plane ride, so I think I’m going to go all dark and suspenseful and read Gone Girl. I bought it last year and never started it because of SO many people saying how horribly it ended. I hate bad endings and I hate when there’s no closure so it kind of shyed me away from reading it. I heard that the author (Gillian Flynn) is re-writing the ending for the movie that’s coming out later this year because of how controversial it was. So anyway, I’ve started it and so far, it’s pretty engrossing. Like, I can’t put it down. I foresee myself finishing it this week, for sure. Have you read it? Thoughts?
Alright so, despite weather woes, it’s asparagus season! What better than to roast them and throw them into a creamy penne casserole bake? This could totally be a vegetarian dish but I figured Jason would appreciate a bit of protein so I threw in some cubed chicken breasts but you can certainly omit it. I really like panko and Parmesan so I generously covered the top of the casserole with way too much but it was nice to have it dispersed throughout each bite of this dish. Haha, it did make it annoying, though, to scoop out the pasta. The panko went everywhere since it was such a heaping amount! Just don’t go as crazy as I did ;)
Anyway, grab the recipe below for this very Spring-y dish! Easy to put together and it makes a lot so you’ll have some delicious leftovers to look forward to!
Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Penne Bake
- 2 large bunches of asparagus, tough ends chopped off
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 2 cups penne pasta
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, or whatever % milk you like to use
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the topping
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On a large baking sheet (you'll likely need two) lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, place asparagus into a single layer and drizzle olive oil over the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I would say about 1/2 tsp. of each on each sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut asparagus into equal thirds.
- Turn down oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- While asparagus is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. You want to slightly undercook the pasta because you'll finish cooking it in the oven.
- In a large pot, brown the cubes of chicken with 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat, but don't cook them all the way through. Remove from pot then add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium then add in the milk and whisk in the flour. Let mixture thicken, about 3 minutes, then add the chicken back in along with the pasta and roasted asparagus. Toss the mixture together to coat all the ingredients with the creamy sauce, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and pour into a large 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, toss panko and parmesan cheese with melted butter. Sprinkle generously on top of the casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until pasta and chicken has been thoroughly cooked through and mixture is bubbling.
- Serve immediately.
- Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.