Main Dish Recipes

Cream Cheese and Chicken Orzo with Tomatoes and Basil


I’m trying to watch the most recent episode of Once Upon a Time, which means I have more important things to do than tell you how great this meal is and how it’s my go-to when dinnertime is staring down at me and I just want something everyone will eat with minimal complaining (enormous lie – I haven’t made a dinner in MONTHS that Ella hasn’t complained about, even if she eventually decides she loves it), and also when I serve this for company, it always gets rave reviews.

Take my word for it, so I can get back to watching Regina make snarky comments.

(I just wrote all of this during a commercial break. You think I could look away when Hook is on screen? You’re wrong).

Use the time you saved on dinner to watch some Once Upon a Time. Thank me later.

Cream Cheese and Chicken Orzo with Tomatoes and Basil
(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Serves 3-4

3/4 pound orzo pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken breast, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tomatoes, diced
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup reserved pasta water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and let it cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (reserve 3/4 cup of water from the pasta).

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then add the chicken chunks and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, then flip and cook on the other side. Add the mushrooms (the chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through) and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the basil, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook about 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are not juicy anymore. Add the cream cheese and stir to coat the vegetables.

Stir in the reserved pasta water, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes until thickened, then stir in orzo, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste, top with fresh basil (if desired), and serve hot.

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  • Reply Rachel Parker April 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

    You're not alone in the complaint department. My toddler regularly throws dinner on the ground in some sort of strike against my cooking. PS: this looks yuuuumy.

  • Reply Mia April 29, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I originally read "cream cheese and chicken oreo". I was very confused for a moment.

  • Reply Sherry April 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I didn't read anything beyond the fact that Ella always complains about dinner. Ike too. In fact we had something last night that we had a few nights ago. When we had it a few nights ago he complained about it at first but then decided that he liked it. The exact smae thing happened last night. What can we do to get them to remember from meal to meal that they always end up liking the food?????

  • Reply Paige Flamm April 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Haha I loved Once a Upon a Time but stopped watching after the first season! I should pick it up again, after making this for dinner of course 😉

  • Reply Heather April 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    This looks like a dinner right up my alley – thanks! Who cares if the kids like it. They're used to not liking the new meals I attempt. I love Once Upon a Time. Any other show recommendations? We finished White Collar and need something new.

  • Reply Jennifer Lee April 29, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    This is going on my list of things to make as soon as all the boxes are unpacked. Yum! Also, I pray that a day will come when my family sits down to dinner and no one complains about the food. Seriously. I don't think I've served a single breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the last year that everyone was happy to eat. It is one of my greatest frustrations as a mother.

  • Reply Meg April 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Hahahaha, this was the best intro ever! I can't look away when Hook is on either. He's pretty much the reason why I watch it. I have also made this recipe from Mel and it is so yummy! It's been awhile. I definitely need to make it again real soon.

  • Reply S April 30, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Ummm… YES about Hook! He's my favorite and I'm glad Neal died so Hook and Emma can get together. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe, but it's not real life so I think I'm ok. I seriously might stop watching if they find a way to bring Neal back.

  • Reply konasdiary April 30, 2014 at 6:27 am

    ooo loved your recipe!!!!!i will definitely do this today!!

  • Reply Camille Millecam Whiting April 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    YUM! Thanks for helping my meal plan for next week!

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