This is a recipe I've been asked for many times, so I figured it was time to "officially" write it out. It was inspired by a dinner that our family got once from one of the assemble-your-own-freezer-meal places (I can't remember what it was called), and I messed around with the ingredients until I got the flavor I wanted.
This is a great option to make in a large quantity and freeze in portions that will work for your family size. For our family of 6 big eaters, this makes 3 freezer meals. (Yay for freezer meals!) It is also very easy to make for a crowd, so I am sharing a crowd-sized recipe.
16-18 pieces frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or approx. 6 lbs., depending on the size of the pieces)
52-60 oz. marinara sauce (meat-free)
5-8 oz. cooked bacon crumbles (or substitute with 1 uncooked piece of bacon per piece of chicken)
1/3-1/2 c. prepared pesto sauce
Herbed Cream Cheese (recipe below)
Looking to make this in a smaller quantity? For 6 pieces of chicken you will need approximately 20 oz. of marinara sauce, 1-2 oz. cooked bacon crumbles, 2 tbsp. pesto, and 6 tbsp. herbed cream cheese.
To make the Herbed Cream Cheese:
8 oz. tub of whipped cream cheese (or substitute with 8 oz. softened cream cheese)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried dill
For the full recipe: set out four 9x12 casserole dishes.
Tip: If you are using uncooked bacon and want to broil it to get it crispy, make sure you are using metal casserole dishes. I have some from this line. This one might be a good pan option, too.
Pour marinara sauce into the bottom of each of the dishes, making sure the bottom is covered with about 1/4" of sauce.
Lay frozen chicken breasts into the casserole dishes.
Place approximately 1 tsp. of pesto on top of each chicken breast.
Place approximately 1 tbsp. of herbed cream cheese on top of each chicken breast. (If I have some left over, I like to dot it over the marinara sauce in the dish.)
Sprinkle bacon crumbles over the top (or if you are using uncooked bacon, place one strip of bacon on each piece of chicken).
If you are preparing this as a freezer meal, cover your casserole dishes and place them in the freezer.
Tip: If you are using a metal pan, do not cover directly with foil. Use plastic wrap to create a barrier between the metal pan and the foil, otherwise your foil will create a battery and "melt" into your meal. Yikes!
When you are ready to cook your meal, place into an oven that has been pre-heated to 375 degrees.Bake (uncovered) for approximately 45 minutes or until the chicken (and any uncooked bacon) are cooked through. If you started with uncooked bacon, you can use your oven's broiler to crisp up your bacon (just be sure your pan is broiler safe!).
We love to serve this with rice, making sure to scoop out some extra sauce onto our rice.It's also great with mashed potatoes.
And don't forget to make some delicious rolls to go with it, too.