Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feast Week

Oh My Gosh, I have to say this has been one of my favorite weeks of eating in a long time (sorry sweetie, maybe I should say this has been my favorite week of eating MY cooking in a long time)! Not only are we harvesting our vegetable garden (last night we had a salad with two kinds of lettuce, sugar snap peas and broccoli all from our garden) but everything else has been really yummy too, including my LUNCH! Let me explain…

It is my week to cook. For those who don’t know how we do things in our household, we alternate weeks of cooking dinner and grocery shopping. So this week is my week. I mapped out the week factoring in plans, working late, etc and try to arrange our cooking to best work with our week. So this week we are both home all week long. Oh boy. AND it’s my week to cook- that can make for a tough week. But we are trying to empty out our freezer (not sure why, it’s not THAT full) so on Sunday I cooked some marinated beef shoulders. We bought them at BJs (new members) on a whim. The pack included two shoulders so I used a second for leftovers on Monday. Sunday I cooked the beef on the grill (along with the chicken for me soon-to-be-praised lunch). I served the beef with a Parmesan risotto and grilled zucchini. Then on Monday I took that second beef shoulder, cut it into bite-sized pieces, placed it on soft Portuguese rolls and covered with provolone cheese and broiled them just until the cheese melted. They were delicious. Served with our harvested salad and strawberries (from the store) it made for a really yummy meal.

Tonight I have chicken pesto Panini planned (with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes). Tomorrow I have margarita marinated shrimp tacos with a black bean, tomato avocado and corn salad –from the pork tacos recipe in our cookbook, in case you were wondering(and enough for left overs). Then I also have Summer Burgers planned for the final days. Thursday is our month-aversary so we might go out on Thursday or we might instead go out Saturday. Ok ok, so back to my AMAZING lunch. This tastes like one of those creamy pasta side dishes that comes in a package, just add milk and butter. You know those probably aren’t very good for you but the taste so unbelievable you eat them anyway. This is a solution to that. Let me just start by saying the recipe below is SO easy. The store bought pesto makes this so delicious and there is MINIMAL chopping here. Heck you can probably leave out the garlic if you really didn’t want to chop. But I wouldn’t omit the tomatoes. They add a nice sweetness to the dish. ENJOY!

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
Cooking Light

This dish comes together quickly if one person grills chicken while another cooks the pasta and sauce. Garnish with basil sprigs, if desired. If you serve wine, a chardonnay complements the creamy sauce. Yield 10 servings (serving size: 2 cups pasta and about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese)

1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
20 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (3.5-ounce) jar commercial pesto (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups halved grape tomatoes (about 2 pints)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until done, turning after 6 minutes. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces; keep warm.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Place pasta in large bowl.
4. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in pesto. Gradually add remaining 1 cup milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 cup cheese; stir until cheese melts.
5. Add chicken and sauce to pasta, tossing well to coat. Add tomatoes and basil; toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

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