Homemade without the fuss: Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake was NO Labor on This Labor Day!

Homemade without the fuss: Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake was NO Labor on This Labor Day!

Chicken / September 14, 2015

When I was a child, I used to scrunch my nose in confusion when I would hear the title of Labor Day. Most likely because one of my little sisters had just been 2 born two weeks prior, and I was within earshot of an adult warbling on about my mother being in labor. Seriously? My mom gets a holiday for having my sister? Life is weird.

Nevertheless, I am all for a woop-woop for this day. A pat on the back is fine, but a whole day off especially on a Monday is downright brilliant! First put into law by the state legislature in Oregon in 1887, it wasn’t until June of 1894 that Congress finally followed the lead of more than 2 dozen states and enacted Labor Day as a National holiday. Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was supposedly one of the first to propose we create a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

Rude or not, carving grandeur from my fridge was less dramatic. And certainly not labor intensive. You may find this dish one of the least laborious dinners you make. Hearty, rib-sticking, and crowd pleasing this main dish is made from ingredients readily available and probably already in your kitchen. It is a I-can’t-stop-eating-it kind of good.

Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake

Serves 6


8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T olive oil
1 25 ounce bottle of your favorite marinara sauce (We used Victoria’s Marinara)
½ large sweet white onion, or about 1 C, rough chopped
1 5 ounce package baby bella mushrooms sliced
3 C grated mozzarella cheese
¼ C grated Kraft parmesan cheese
3 T butter
1 T dried oregano
1 to 1 ½ C panko crumbs
2 gloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh basil for garnish if desired
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cut thigh pieces into uniform sizes. I ended up cutting each about in half, trimming away extra fat. Arrange evenly over whole bottom of a large baking dish that has been rubbed with 2 T oil, or oil as needed. Salt and pepper generously.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the butter on high heat. Add the onion and mushroom and cook until they are seared and onions are very soft. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more, just enough time to cook away the raw garlic taste but don’t burn it. Add the bottle of marinara and stir to incorporate and heat, about 1 minute or so. Now, pour the marinara and vegetable mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle the panko crumbs on top, covering evenly, then cover with the mozzarella and the parmesan, and top with the oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Cook in a 375 degree F oven for about 40 minutes, or until you see bubbling throughout. Turn the broiler on for the last minute to brown the cheese.
  • I served with couscous sautéed with red and yellow pepper and a Dijon mustard cream sauce and rustic mashed potatoes.


You can add any kind of vegetable you want. Instead of mushrooms, try zucchini, or eggplant.

Get the cookbook!

Let's think about food preparation as art, and flavors as adventurous stories. Say ‘goodbye’ to safe sequences, or copycat flavors, and use your senses to curate the perfect meal. My recipes help your kitchen come to life as I share anecdotes about food chemistry, and fun shortcuts that conquer menu-mediocrity. my cooking style is one that combines everyday ingredients into sensuous layers that wake up the bored palate as I reveal easy-to-understand tips, tricks, and hacks so everyone can prepare and serve Bling Cuisine with confidence and joy!


Follow us Ifeellikecooking