April 2, 2013

Weeknight Wins: Chicken & Spinach Spiral Pasta

Weeknight Wins: Chicken & Spiral Pasta


One of the most frequent recipe requests I get from parents is for something new to please their picky eaters. The parents are usually tired of serving chicken fingers and oven pizzas and want to feed their children something wholesome, delicious, and above and beyond everyday children’s fare. My answer is usually to combine vegetables, a lean protein, and pasta and coat it all in a light palate-pleasing sauce. I created something just like this last weekend when I was experimenting with the new Sauté Express® Sauté Starter from Land O’Lakes.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be participating in the Weeknight Wins Blogger Challenge by Land O’Lakes Sauté Express® Sauté Starter. During April, four other lovely food bloggers and I will be sharing our weeknight go-to recipes with you. On busy weeknights, many families have just 30 minutes or less to get a wholesome dinner on the table. This challenge should give us all some great, delicious meal ideas to whip up in a hurry. Together, we can score little wins in the kitchen! (Follow along on the Weeknight Wins Pinterest Board.)

Sauté Express® Sauté Starter is this cool new first-of-its-kind seasoned butter and olive oil sauté starter that comes in convenient squares and can be used to cook and season any protein, such as chicken, fish, or pork in one easy step.

Land O' Lakes Saute Express

 They are perfect for cooking and flavoring meats and poultry that can then be used as the base for a light pasta sauce. I usually am happy to toss together my own seasonings from scratch but it is so nice to have these on hand in a pinch. They take the guesswork out of measuring ingredients and save a ton of time!

Land O' Lakes Saute Express

Back to the challenge! The first week’s challenge is “Please Your Picky Eater,” something that many moms and dads will identify with! For this picky eater–pleasing dish I simply sautéed some lean chicken breasts in the melted Savory Butter & Olive Oil square.

Land O' Lakes Saute Express

When the chicken was cooked I scraped all of it, including the melted butter, into a bowl with spiral pasta (my daughter’s favorite), wilted spinach, and a pinch of Parmesan and tossed the ingredients together. It was perfection!

Land O' Lakes Saute Express

Our favorite part about this meal is that it is sophisticated enough for the adults but simple enough for the kids. My daughter, not exactly a spinach enthusiast, eagerly devoured her plateful.

Land O' Lakes Saute Express

Now, it’s your turn to participate in Weeknight Wins. Each week I’ll be sharing a new recipe featuring Sauté Express® Sauté Starter and hosting an awesome sweepstakes for you!

This week’s prize pack includes:

  • Four coupons for Sauté Express® Sauté Starter
  • Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet
  • Three hand towels
  • Set of six divided dinner plates


Now, share your idea for Pleasing Picky Eaters for a chance to win the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter Picky Eater Prize Pack. Bonus: Tell me what you would make using Sauté Express® Sauté Starter to Please Your Picky Eater. Each week, Land O’Lakes will also pick a few of favorites, which will be featured on Land O’Lakes Weeknight Meals Pinterest Board. *When you enter, Land O’Lakes may select your comment to feature for promotion, social media and/or other related marketing materials.

Here’s how to enter–> Simply leave a comment below answering one of the following questions:

What is your weeknight win to please a picky eater?


What would you make with Sauté Express® Sauté Starter?

Enter The Weeknight Wins by Sauté Express® Sauté Starter Sweepstakes

Open to legal U.S. residents 18 years and older. No purchase necessary to enter or win. One entry per person (that includes email address & IP address) per day. Required information is first & last name and valid email address. Entries obtained by mechanical or spamming mechanisms will be disqualified. One winner will be chosen at random from all of the qualified entries submitted. Sweepstakes ends on Friday, April 5, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be contacted via email supplied in the entry & will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Approximate retail value of prize: $150 Sweepstakes is sponsored by Land O’Lakes. The Naptime Chef and the sponsor reserve the right to cancel the sweepstakes at any time. Contact The Naptime Chef for winner list or with any questions. By participating in this Sweepstakes, you agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the Sponsors, which shall be final. All federal, state, and local laws apply; void where prohibited.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Land O’Lakes for an exclusive endorsement of Sauté Express® Sauté Starter. This blog post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes. All opinions are my own.


Chicken & Spinach Spiral Pasta



¾ pound rotini pasta
1 square Savory Butter & Olive Oil Sauté Express® Sauté Starter

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese


Cook the pasta according to directions and drain well. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large non-stick skillet melt the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter over medium-low. Then, add the chicken strips and cook them on both sides until just cooked through and lightly browned on the outside, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the pasta and spinach in a large bowl and pour in the chicken and melted butter from the pan. Then, add the Parmesan cheese and pour in a very small amount of pasta water. Then use a wooden spoon to toss everything together. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Serve!


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47 Responses to “Weeknight Wins: Chicken & Spinach Spiral Pasta”

  1. Mel Free says:

    I often make macaroni & cheese for my picky eaters..homemade, of course, but I could see me sauteing almost any kind of meat & making a one dish meal, with macaroni, or some kind of pasta, with this new Saute Starter & any kind of fresh veggies, etc. ..it sounds really good..and, I would sure like to win that frying pan! 😉

  2. Jennifer Arnold says:

    Anything with chicken breasts and pasta is definitely a winner!

  3. Kris says:

    We let our kids pick their own fillings for quesadillas or pizzadillas. Simple, quick, and no complaints.

  4. christopher sorel says:

    saute chicken in garlicbutter and rice pilaf makes my daughter picky habit stop with a side of brocolli

  5. Amanda Bruner says:

    Orzo, cheese, veggies

  6. sammi says:

    this looks really good! I’d love to try this recipe with saute express starters! We love chicken, pasta and spinach!

  7. latanya t says:

    I would cook the saute starter with shrimp

  8. Spaghetti and meatballs

  9. Meghan Howie says:

    My weeknight win is stir fry – frozen shrimp and lots of veggies!

  10. Courtney says:

    Chicken pesto with brown rice pasta. I would try the starter with seafood like shrimp or swai

  11. S W says:

    Chicken drummettes baked with teriyaki sauce. The starter would be great for broccoli and shrimp.

  12. uTry.it says:

    This is such a quick, easy and delicious recipe. For my family, anything with pasta and garlic saute mushrooms will please the picky eater. I can’t wait to try the Garlic & Herb Saute’ Starter with my mushrooms, shrimps and spinach penne! The Garlic & Herb Saute’ Starter will make my life much easier! Save me time from chopping the garlic and herbs. Yay!

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  13. Erin says:

    please the picky eaters with grilled cheese + tomato soup. yum!

  14. camille terry says:

    I love how easy this recipe is. I am going to it with shrimp.

  15. Alisha says:

    my weeknight win is pork chops, brushed with olive oil and spices and grilled, broccoli, and potatoes. my little two year old chows down on that any night.

  16. To please my picky daughter I let her go grocery shopping with me and pick out some things she likes and fruits and veggies she may would like to try! We have so much fun! We also prepare some of her food together creating fun shapes like cutting her sandwiches with cookie cutters. She loves it! This also allows us to spend a fun time together!

  17. memoma says:

    my picky eater loves chicken and vegetables – super boring! i would love to try your recipe!

  18. D Schmidt says:

    My weeknight winning meal is leftover turkey casserole!

  19. Erin says:

    The go-to picky eater recipe in our house is mac n’ cheese from scratch with the addition of some pureed sweet potato!

  20. Ina says:

    I want to enter this give away, & I love trying new recipes…

  21. Julie says:

    mine is tacos thanks aunteegem@yahoo.com

  22. Francis says:

    Noodles with butter- the starter would be perfect for this dish!!

  23. Khanh says:

    My 17 month old picky eater does not like meat, so I hide it as best I can amongst lots and lots of veggies (which he loves, so I guess I could have worse problems). My go to meal is usually pasta sauce with a garden full of vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, corn kernels, zucchini, eggplant…) and minced meat that I sneak in there as well. I think the garlic and herbs saute starter would be wonderful for this dish!

    Thank you for the opportunity!!!

  24. Elena says:

    I like to make baked mac and cheese. Everyone in my family loves it
    elena150980 at yahoo dot com

  25. Deanna says:

    Pizza! Quick and you can make the kind you like

  26. rachel says:

    I’d make a yummy stir-fry!

  27. Amy P says:

    My weeknight win is mini calzones that I add chopped veggies to. To make it easy, I usually go to the local pizza place and buy their dough. Then my son and I cut out shapes (usually a heart) and start to assemble by putting sauce, cheese and then chopped spinach, cover with another heart and press edges with a fork. Then I bake them and he loves them! And since we can’t have them every night, I just tell him that he has to eat at least one of the things I put on his plate. I always make sure there is something he likes so if he doesn’t want to eat his chicken, he will always eat his veggie (usually roasted Kale or roasted broccoli!)

  28. Rust says:

    I would use the savory butter and olive oil with chicken and broccoli over penne – with parmesan.

  29. Penelope says:

    Our go to meal is spaghetti with or without sauce… We always find something he will eat with noodles.

  30. Chika Griswold says:

    My weeknight win is Cajun tilapia tacos with broccoli slaw– so quick and easy, but so yummy (and my kiddos devour them!).

  31. Pat says:

    My go to is grilled chicken and cous cous with a salad – my family will eat it and its quick

  32. Maria F says:

    I actually bought the savory butter and olive oil flavor last week and used it to make a delicious meal with leftover Easter ham. I used the butter to make a roux, added dijon mustard and milk, then added shredded cheese to the béchamel. Tossed pasta in the mustardy cheese sauce with ham and broccoli and baked – delicious!

  33. Christine Mayfield says:

    I make spaghetti to please all the eaters in my family including my picky 4 year old.

  34. Amy Wels says:

    I have my 5-yr-old go with me to the farmer’s market and help pick out the produce…..she’s been much more excited about trying stuff if she has a hand in the selection. Found out that she actually likes Swiss chard and kale that way.

  35. Kim McCallie says:

    I would use the savory butter and olive oil to make a nice shrimp scampi!

  36. Christina C says:

    I make the Weelicious baked ziti recipe!!

  37. heidi says:

    I make things like veggies in lightly creamy sauces for my picky eater.

  38. Alice Mizer says:

    I simply steam some carrots for my “picky eater” she gobbles down probably two full carrots with each meal that I serve them at! We never have anything leftover since she will skip dessert and eat carrots instead! 🙂

  39. Amy C says:

    I make a quick mac-n-cheese to please my picky eaters 🙂

  40. April Ibanez says:

    fish sticks with mac and cheese is a win which ties with homemade sushi and pot stickers. Pot stickers would be the first thing I sauted in that great pan.

  41. Karen Lynch says:

    Daughter has been on a pasta kick lately, she is a swimmer and runner for her Highschool, so that is probably why. She loves Alfredo, but also likes broccoli, or asparagus mixed in with butter and seasonings.

  42. Andrea Thompson says:

    I would probably saute some steamed broccoli and chicken together to get some veggies and protein into my picky eater.

  43. AnnaZed says:

    I would use this butter and olive oil combination (in that beautiful pan!) to saute some chicken

    margueritecore [at] gmail [dot] com

  44. […] of The Weeknight Wins Blogger Challenge by Sauté Express® Sauté Starters! In case you missed my post last week, here’s a quick recap. During April, along with four other food bloggers, I will be sharing my […]

  45. Blessie Nelson says:

    I would use the saute express to roast some shrimp and garlic and toss in angel pasta to it and my kids love it anytime – pleases the picky eaters at home!

  46. martinezam3 says:

    For my picky eaters, I love to saute chicken while boiling pasta. Then I blend fresh veggies together, such as, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and jalapenos. After draining the pasta, I add it ti the pan with the sauteed chicken and add the begging and toss it all with olive oil, then season to taste. Family loves it!