I love a good mash-up recipe first thing in the morning, don’t you? It’s a great way to get us through the work week, and have us looking forward to the weekend. This mash-up in particular is here to prompt us to start discussing game-day appetizers and snacks. It’s never too early to start planning our menu. Take it from me, the earlier you start the better. Also, it’s never about the sports themselves, it’s more about what you’re serving. Dips are the perfect game day appetizer because they feed a crowd, they’re easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and almost always involve loads of melted cheese. That’s never a bad thing in my book. I’m taking the classic chicken parmesan and turning it into a delicious, and I’m warning you now, incredibly addictive dip. You’re going to want to eat it by the boatload. I recommend making it a few times before the big day, you know so that way you can really perfect it before you serve it to your guests, and of course eating it a few times is the main objective.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a skillet with a bit of olive oil until softened. Season with crushed red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.
Add the cubed or shredded chicken and cook until warmed through.
**Tip: This is a great way to use leftover chicken you have from the night before. Or you can also use rotisserie chicken from the store! Just remove the skin, and then shred or dice. If you have neither, you can poach chicken breasts in water or chicken stock. Let cool and then shred or dice!**
Add the marinara sauce and cook until warmed through. The chicken and marinara are already cooked, so we’re just looking to warm both through. The marinara will mimic that sauce that’s spooned over chicken parmesan and then sprinkled with cheese. Eh? Eh? See what I’m doing?
**Tip: Just use store-bought marinara for this because you don’t have time to be making homemade sauce for this dip. It’s okay. We’re doing fine.**
In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, mayo, mozzarella, and parmesan until well incorporated, or as best you can.
Add the somewhat cooled chicken mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. The warmth from the chicken will help smooth out the cream cheese and allow everything to come together.
Pour it all out into a greased 9-inch square or rectangle baking dish, smoothing out into an even layer.
**Tip: You can easily divide this into two dishes, bake one off, and save the other for later. Or eat one and give one away. It’s all up to you.**
Because I want this to be like chicken parmesan, we’re going to drizzle the top with more marinara, then sprinkle with more mozzarella, parmesan, Panko (cause I like that crunch) and plain breadcrumbs. That’ll create a crunchy crust like chicken parmesan has. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.
While the dip bakes, you can make some crostini to serve with it. Just slice a baguette and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bake until golden brown.
Once the dip has baked, remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving. Then top with fresh basil, and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan.
Serve the dip with the crostini, or just some fresh sliced baguette, or even crackers would be great. I’ve seen herbed focaccia crackers at the store now, and those would be awesome! If you’re feeling healthy, I guess you can serve it with crudité as well.
You can easily make this dip ahead of time top with with the toppings, and then cover with plastic wrap. Keep it in the fridge up to 1 day before and then just bake until right before serving.
**Note: Just keep in mind that if you go from the fridge to the oven, it’ll take a bit longer to bake. About 5 to 8 minutes longer.**
If you’re looking to expand your appetizer/snack game a bit more, then you must keep this recipe in mind. It’s great for the big game as well, but then again, when it’s a hot bubbly melty cheese dip in question….that’s always a great idea.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small brown onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 poached chicken breasts, cooled, diced or shredded (or 2 baked chicken breasts from the store)
- 1½ cups store-bought marinara sauce
- 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into pieces
- Crostini or crackers for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Set a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with crushed pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Add the chicken and 1 cup marinara and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, mayo, 1 cup mozzarella, ¼ cup parmesan, the cooled chicken and onion mixture, salt, and pepper until well combined. The warmth from the chicken will help melt the cream cheese slightly. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch square or rectangular baking dish, smoothing out as best you can. Drizzle with the remaining marinara and then top with remaining mozzarella, parmesan, Panko, breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with crostini, crackers or crudité. Enjoy!