About Me

I love to keep things fresh. Boredom makes me cringe. I believe in perseverance. Anything new and different inspires me. Photos and stories contained on this blog are my own. I create the majority of my recipes featured as well. If I adapt a recipe or find a great one to share from another source, I will give credit where it is due and a link to the original if at all possible. Please ask prior to using photos, writings and recipes and if using, please link to to the original source. Peace and Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's For Dinner Wednesday? Chicken Spaghetti and Green Salad

I'm a little premature in posting this, but hey, it's almost Wednesday!  Another week just flying by!  Five days of "go-go-go!" and then two days of trying to catch up, then what do you know?  Seven more days gone.  While it is so easy to want to go and pick up something that doesn't require cooking for dinner every day of the week, this practice  really takes the fun out of going out to eat eventually.  Don't get me wrong, going out and getting served at a restaurant is a culinary treat that inspires me every time.  But believe it or not, it can get quite boring if you do it too much.  That's my take on it anyway.  I've tried it and after awhile you just want something that is homemade.  Whether or not you do the cooking yourself is not important.  It's the being home-cooked part that is.  So if you don't feel like cooking, or just despise cooking in general, pass this recipe on to someone who does like to cook.  Then it will be a win-win.  And win-wins are good for everyone.  So treat yourself to some down time, whether alone or with someone, during the week.  Relax and throw together a home cooked meal.  You'll be glad you did.

This is about as basic as it gets.  Chicken Spaghetti and Green Salad.  Nothing more, nothing less.

If you know me, even a little, you will not be surprised that this recipe is very flavorful and lean.  Lean is like a curse word to some, but I promise you will not feel this way once you make this.  I choose my battles wisely when it comes to food and drink. 

Promise you, I am no saint when it comes to nutrition, but I do believe in using non-processed foods and whole ingredients as often as possible.  Not necessarily because I am in picture perfect health, but because if this is the least that I do, hopefully it will erase a few years of party-hardy mentality and counteract some of the effects that stress may have on this body of mine.  Another good thing in the short term is that I know that I feel better immediately after as opposed to eating in most restaurants.  Notice that I say most.  There are some restaurants that use wholesome ingredients and go light on the butter factor.  Maybe I'll recommend a few of those in another post.  And FYI, if the food is healthy but tastes like cardboard, it immediately gets a "Thumbs Down". 

Taking it back to the balancing act of life, I LOVE to indulge in delicious food without regard to the caloric/fat content every once in awhile.  I believe in splurging sometimes.  Too much of anything is not good for the body and soul.

Now let's get onto the Chicken Spaghetti recipe.

Recipe Part 1:  Chicken Spaghetti 
Serves:  5 regular portions


Cooking Time:  1 hour (less is fine, but the longer you cook, the better the sauce)


Hardware: 2 (2-3 Quart) Large Pots, One for Sauce and One for Pasta


Make Ahead:  This sauce can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated.  It can also be frozen for a couple of months and thawed out when ready to use.


Ingredients:
2 Tblsp Olive Oil, plus a little for the pasta water
1 1/2 Tblsp Sugar
1 Onion, chopped finely (it blends into the sauce quicker if it is not in big chunks)
3 Cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/4 Cup Red Wine (or White wine or Chicken Broth) to deglaze pan
One 28oz. Can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 cup Chicken Broth (you can add more if you want to cook the sauce for over 45 minutes. The longer it cooks the better!) 
One pack of 4 Split Chicken Breasts, Uncooked and Cut into bite sized pieces
1 Bayleaf
1 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil, if you have the fresh stuff, go for it!
2 tsp Dried Oregano, again, if you have the fresh stuff, go for it!
1 1/4 Tsp Salt
2 Tblsp Tomato Paste
1 Box of Pasta ( I used Whole Grain Spaghetti Noodles, though regular pasta is fine)
Grated Parmesan Cheese ( I consider this mandatory, not optional, but suit yourself)


Method:
1)  Add Olive Oil and heat over medium heat until warm.  Add the Sugar and watch for it to carmelize.  Once golden, add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions turn clear and soften a bit.




Before and After





2)  Add the 1/2 Cup of Wine or Chicken Broth to DeGlaze the pot (loosen up all the good stuff that's stuck).  Allow to simmer until most of the liquid evaporates.

3)  Next, Season it with the Basil, Oregano and Bayleaf. 

4)  Pour in the Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Breast Meat, and Chicken Broth and Salt.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Stir ocassionally and beware of red hot splatters!  If you happen to have a Splatter Screen, now IS the time to whip it out.  It'll come in handy, for your eyeballs and your stovetop. 

The Simmer Phase

Honorable Mention:  The splatter screen doing what it does best:


5)  Mix in the tomato paste as a thickening agent.  Keep Simmering and Stirring to keep from sticking to the bottom.  Do this until the sauce reduces and thickens to desired consistency. 

6) And while "Yo Sauce Is Thicknen" (sorry, couldn't help myself), cook the Pasta.  Bring the second pot of water to a boil.  Salt it up with 2 tsps of salt.  Add a splash of olive oil.  Then cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box.  Usually 8 mins or so from when the water starts boiling again after adding the pasta.

Curious to see what Pasta I used?  Here it is.  Some members of my family do not like tan colored pasta (ah-hmm... Susie and Allan).  I do.  Cook whatever you like.


7)  Now give that Sauce one good stir to check to see if it's as thick as you like it.  As if I need to say this part, but just in case, I will.  Pile you plate with pasta, topped with sauce and the mandatory grated parmesan cheese



Recipe Part 2:  Green Salad
Important Notice:  The Vinagrette comes from a previous recipe, because it just goes really well with this dish. I like to use the dried mint because it has a slight cooling effect when pairing with the acidity of the tomato sauce.  My Grandma Linda taught me that it's not necessary to buy pre-made salad dressings.  They are just too easy to make.

Hardware:  A Salad Spinner.  Optional, but not really.  A kitchen essential for any salad.
Ingredients:
2 Heads of Romaine Lettuce- I like the organic packs of three. Bottom sliced off, sliced in half lengthwise, and again across to make nice bite sized pieces.  Rinse well in cold water and use that Salad Spinner to get the water out.  You can't beat salad spinners! You'll never have another watered down salad again.  It's a worthwhile investment.

Vinagrette - in case you don't remember, it's from the Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad recipe.  Very Versatile Vinagrette.  Hey, I like the sound of that. Here's the link to that recipe:  http://bestfrommynest.blogspot.com/2010/04/whats-for-dinner-wednesday-grilled.html

Ingredients:
3 1/2 Tblsp. White Balsamic Vinegar (I used Bella Famiglia that I found at Target)
1/2 Tsp dried mint (if you don't have this, try dried basil or even dried oregano, or no herbs if you prefer)
1/4 tsp of salt
Juice of one lemon
Black pepper to taste
Dash of Red Pepper (Cayenne) if you wish
1/2 tsp of Honey
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

Method:

1) Whisk together the 3 1/2 tblsp White Balsamic Vinegar, 1/2 tsp dried mint (or basil or oregano), 1/4 tsp salt, Juice of one lemon, Black pepper, Dash Cayenne Pepper (optional), 1/2 tsp honey.

2) Emulsify by whisking in the olive oil (it will come together and thicken a bit)
3)  Toss to combine the Romaine Lettuce and Vinagrette.





That's another "What's for Dinner Wednesday" ya'll.  Good for the Heart and Soul.




4 comments:

joseph said...

Hello!

My name is Joseph Stephan, and I work in the domain of online food recipes. I discovered your blog and I really liked it.

I would like to contact you and discuss some issues about your blog, but unfortunately I could not find you email address.

If you don’t mind, could you please send your email address to joseph@shahiya.com.

Thanks :)

Azmina said...

Delicious and simple! What more can you ask for after a busy week! Thanks for sharing this recipe :)

Allan said...

I can say first hand that the Chicken Sgetti is delicious; I like it with angel hair pasta. The site looks great!

Simply Life said...

that looks like the perfect meal!

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