Preparing dinner together used to be one of our favorite things to do in our pre-baby days. We’d pour some wine, light some candles, and spend a leisurely Friday night cooking. Since I’ve been putting Emilia to bed recently, Brian normally gets dinner going, but a few weeks ago we decided to try something new. We started dinner a little earlier so she could hang out with us in her high chair and it worked out beautifully. Not only that, we discovered a new favorite pasta dish that’s creamy, without being too heavy, spicy, and packed with veggies.
CONFETTI CHICKEN PASTA RECIPE – Adapted from Bake Cakery
Veggies & Pasta
16 oz. of Penne or Ziti cooked al dente in salt water
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in 1″ cubes
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ c. Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Bell Pepper
1 c. Broccoli florets
1 c. Asparagus, chopped in 1″ pieces
2 c. Mushrooms, sliced and patted dry
2 14-oz cans (drained) diced tomatoes with mild chilies
1. Cook your pasta and let it drain. Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook chicken until done and golden on all sides. Remove and let rest in a large bowl.
2. In the same pan that you cooked the chicken in, melt a tablespoon of butter, then brown the mushrooms. Do this is two batches if you have to. They won’t brown if you crowd the pan. Remove the mushroom and add to the same bowl with the chicken. Leave the pan juices.
3. Add the remaining olive oil and begin sauteing the onions for 2 min. Add in the garlic and bell pepper and saute another 2 mins. Then toss in any other woody veggies (broccoli, asparagus) saving the tomatoes and chilies until the very end.
4. At this point, I like to keep everything separate, while I start the sauce.
Spicy Cream Sauce
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. skim milk (or half and half)
1 c. Parmesan (or try feta)
optional: red pepper flakes
In the same pan that you cooked the chicken and mushrooms in, melt the butter over medium heat. Toss in the flour and whisk, cooking 1-2 minutes. (We are making a roux)
Slowly whisk in the milk while stirring to prevent any clumps from forming. (If using, sprinkle in the red pepper flakes now.) Allow to simmer until you see boiling action. Stir periodically.
When your sauce begins to thicken and bubble, turn off the heat and add in your cheese. (I actually omitted the cheese for Brian’s, then came back and added for myself after I’d assembled his using some of the roux from above.
To assemble everything, I like to add the pasta first so it gets nice and coated with sauce and then pour the rest of the goodies in. This makes a TON so you’ll have more than enough for lunches for a few days. My favorite kind of meal.
Here are a few other recipes we’ve tried lately:
1. Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
I struggled to get a caramelized “crust” on this but the flavor was still great.
2. Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
We ran out of BBQ sauce as we made our way through this (it made a TON) so I made a quick one myself with Dijon mustard, brown sugar and a little Worcestershire. Just throw it all in a pan on the stove and heat through for 3-4 minutes. It was amazing. I may never buy store-bought again.
3. Oktoberfest Pork Chops with Hops-Braised Cabbage & German Potato Salad
I never know what to put on pork chops, so I usually just default to my go-to beer and garlic marinade. This rub couldn’t be easier. The only special ingredient I didn’t have on hand was ground bay leaves.
4. Crispy Cod with Warm Cauliflower & Mustard Green Salad
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Who knew fish could taste so good? And I now crave this tart, brine-y cauliflower salad on a weekly basis.