Nacho Cheese Chicken and Pasta

The flavor of nacho cheese Doritos - baked into chicken and pasta!

You know the flavor I'm talking about. The one that's so good, when the chips are gone, you tilt the bag so the Dorito dust slides into your mouth. We've all done it. Don't say you haven't.

Anyway, I didn't have any Dorito dust, so I decided to recreate the flavor and make it the base for a chicken-pasta casserole. Why? Because I wanted to, and I knew my boys would love it. And it's a much healthier option than mashing a bag of chips for the seasoning!

Guess what discovered? The nacho cheese flavor isn't hard to recreate - and you probably have all the seasonings in your pantry right now! Hopefully, you'll find this version as addictive as the real thing.

About the chicken: This dish calls for rotisserie chicken, but any leftover, cooked chicken from a previous meal will work. I used rotisserie this time because my refrigerator is broken and while I wait for the part to arrive, I've been buying groceries every day (and sometimes twice/day). Rotisserie chicken is the perfect solution for me because I'll have just what I need for the dish, with no leftovers that need refrigeration. But even if my fridge were doing what it's supposed to do, I LOVE rotisserie chicken. The meat adds great flavor from the rotisserie, and it's completely hassle free. See if your market sells cooked chicken already pulled from the bone; that's a huge time-saver. Also, your store should sell grilled chicken breasts in the deli section - those work great too.

Want to prep ahead? You can assemble the dish, cover it with plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking. Remove the plastic, cover with foil, and let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking (you don't want to start with a cold dish - straight from the fridge to the oven is never a great idea because things can cook unevenly; the middle stays cold while the outside dries out).

Nacho Cheese Chicken and Pasta

Cooking spray
12 ounces rotini pasta, or any pasta shape
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce of choice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups diced rotisserie chicken (or any leftover chicken you have from a previous meal)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking dish (about 9x13, or somewhere in that range) with cooking spray.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, olive oil, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. When the pasta is finished draining (and still hot), at it to the tomato sauce mixture and stir to coat.
Fold in the chicken.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Top with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Cover with foil (if the foil touches the cheese, spray it with cooking spray first - that way when the cheese melts in the oven, it won't stick). Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes, until the cheese melts.
Serves 4