Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Dip Casserole- the Ultimate Comfort Food

Today I bought Bologna.

OK, so it was Boar's Head Bologna.  But it was still Bologna.  And yes, I'm singing B-O-L-O-G-N-A as I write it, because how else would you know how to spell it? 

And today I understood (even more) my Santa Barbara coworkers who announced "I'm hitting the gym" at lunch, but instead hid away under shade trees in empty parking lots eating Big Macs and fries in their cars.  Or the time a good friend of mine asked me to smuggle in a few fried chicken legs and a biscuit when I met her at her work (a high-end golf community in Asheville) for lunch.  Yes, I actually hid them in my purse.

Crazy? Maybe. I blame the comfort food.

So, what soothes your soul?  Pasta?  Chocolate?  Bready stuff... what's your go-to comfort food?

Well, besides bologna, mine is cheese. And yes, I love that I'm part French, so I don't need an excuse.
And I love Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  Ooey, gooey cheese, with two of my favorites- artichokes and spinach, but fresher than the typical bar fare.  Kicked up a notch on flavor and heat... and lower carb with chicken (you won't miss the chips or pita for a minute with this one).  Serve this with a nice salad, or some roasted veggies, and this twist on an old favorite will help curb your comfort food cravings.

Cheesy Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Dip Casserole

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c. Romano cheese, grated
8-oz cream cheese, softened
Mozzarella cheese slices (6-8 depending on cheese.  I use the ball)
Fresh baby spinach leaves- I used about a cup total for layering
1 14oz can quartered artichoke hearts (in water- no seasonings) chopped
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning (I love McCormick's)
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg (grated on a micro plane)
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Place the uncooked chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan or equivalent.  Top with fresh, uncooked spinach.  Then, in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, Parmesan, Romano, cream cheese, artichoke hearts, Greek seasoning, nutmeg, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Pour over the spinach covering all (the spinach will wilt nicely while cooking).  Then on top of the cheese mixture add another light layer of spinach leaves and cover with slices of mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over any spinach that is not covered with the cheese, and add fresh ground pepper. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

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