Bruschetta Chicken and Pasta, a.k.a. garlicky goodness!

During the week I love a quick and easy meal. I figure I have a 30-45 minute window to get a meal on the table before my husband and son proclaim they are starving and start snacking. This bruschetta chicken and pasta recipe can be made within that window. There are several moving parts to this meal, but if you can multitask, then you’re in great shape. If not, it will just take you a little longer to wrap it all up.

This recipe was inspired by T.G.I. Friday’s  Bruschetta Chicken Pasta. It’s one of my favorites and since it wasn’t likely we were heading across town mid-week for supper, I came come up with my own version. That’s the fun part of being in the kitchen. . .You can be creative and duplicate many restaurant meals without leaving your home. You save money and feel accomplished all in one! T.G.I. Friday’s uses angel hair pasta and a thin marinara sauce, but I opted for linguini with garlic and olive oil. It was very flavorful and good enough that we ate the leftovers the next night.

I’d love to hear your “copycat” recipes. Feel free to leave them in the comments section.

 

Bruschetta Chicken & Pasta 

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons seasoning (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces linguini
  • 1-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil

There are lots of moving parts to this recipe, but all parts can be done simultaneously.

Chicken

In a Ziploc bag pound out three chicken breasts until evenly thin. Pour in cup olive oil, seal the bag and coat the chicken. In the meantime, warm the oven to 375 degrees. Now that the chicken is coated, generously pour over seasoning.

Seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flake
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

Lay the seasoned chicken on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. You can grill the chicken if weather permits. Once cooked, slice each breast on a diagonal bias. Set aside until ready to assemble.

Pasta

While the chicken is cooking put on a pot of water to cook the linguini. Once the water is boiling, add salt and linguini. Cook 10 minutes or so until cooked through. On another burner, add 1 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic to a small skillet over medium-low heat. We want the garlic not to burn, but soften and flavor the oil. Once the linguini is cooked, drain and pour in the olive oil mixture to coat the noodles.

Balsamic Glaze

On a third burner, add the cup of balsamic vinegar and sugar to another small skillet. Cook over medium heat, let this reduce until thick. This should take not more than 5-10 minutes. It will be bubbly, so just stir as needed.

Tomato Mixture

Take 1 medium tomato and chopped it into small pieces, leaving the juice. Add one tablespoon basil and stir.

Now, all of the cooking parts are complete. Let’s put it all together. First lay a heap of garlic-flavored linguini on your plate. Top with sliced chicken and drizzle balsamic glaze over top of pasta and noodles. To complete the dish, top with a tablespoon of the tomato mixture.  Enjoy with a nice crusty French bread!

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Weekend breakfast: Homemade biscuits and jam

It’s that time again–the weekend, when breakfast foods are hearty and plentiful in my house. So, imagine my surprise when nobody was hungry but me! Living with one full grown man and a pint-sized guy with a decent appetites usually spells out bacon, eggs, toast, etc. But not this Saturday morning. You would’ve thought they were on a diet by their lack of interest.

So, I decided to enjoy some simple treats: homemade biscuits topped with homemade blackberry jam. You heard that right, homemade on both counts. Yuuuummmm!

The first time I ever tried to make homemade biscuits was when I was about 16. I thought I’d show off to my family and whip up my mom’s biscuits and sausage gravy. Um, yeah. That didn’t turn out well. I ended up with a thick paste in the skillet and flat lumps of dough. Now, 17 years and lots of practice later (along with a tutorial from Mom), I can make a pretty tasty batch of biscuits. So if you’re still working on your biscuit making, don’t worry this is an easy recipe that will have you feeling like you have mad kitchen skills.

Oh, and the jam is not too tough either. Just takes a little time and babysitting. I make a large batch and can it all so I can have fresh jam any time I want.

Homemade Biscuits

  • 1 & 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk

Mix the first three ingredients together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and work in into the dry mix with a fork or if you’re using the food processor mix on low. When crumbly, add the milk and mix into a dough.

Flour the countertop and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough until and inch thick. Use biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass (dipped in flour) to cut out biscuits. Don’t worry, this will make a mess (see my counter below).

Butter the tops of the biscuits with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Place them on a greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes. They will fluff up in the oven (see below).

Now when they are ready to eat, top with jam of your choice. I prefer the blackberry jam I canned over the summer. If you’d like to make your own, try this recipe from Sure Jell.

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Artichoke Penne Alfredo

I used to think I didn’t like artichokes. That was before I actually tasted them and discovered how good they really are. I enjoy them in spinach-artichoke dip or just marinated, but I really love them in a dish a friend introduced me to–Shrimp Abaco. She found it on the Food Network and served it at a dinner party over the holidays. It was so good that I had a second helping and insisted on the recipe before I left her house, two things I never do.

This week I was craving her dish, but I didn’t have mushrooms or shrimp. So I got creative. I must say, my version is quite tasty and highlights the garlic and artichoke flavors that marry well. I hope you enjoy this and find yourself being creative in your pantry as well.

Artichoke Penne Alfredo

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, diced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 artichoke hearts, choppped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup parmigiano-regiano cheese, grated
  • 3 cups penne, cooked

In a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil. Once melted and warm, add the onion. Over medium-low, cook until translucent. Add the garlic, then heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, but not to a rolling boil. Add the artichokes, nutmeg, pepper, salt and wine. Cook for 15 minutes and then add the cheese. Stir all ensuring the cheese melts and thickens the sauce. Pour over pasta and garnish with parsley or more shredded cheese. Serve with garlic bread or salad.

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Make your own Girl Scout cookies!

Who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies? I for one, love them and look forward to them every year. I know to get Peanut Butter Patties for my son, a couple boxes for my husband and then I always choose the Caramel deLites. By no means are they light, but definitely a splurge calorie-wise. A splurge I never regret.

Usually I am asked by a couple of little girls to buy a box or two, but this year that didn’t happen. So while I wait for the booths to pop up at the grocery stores, I chose to make my own.

Earlier this week I shared my version of these delectable caramel-topped cookies with Columbia Daily Tribune readers via the Community Kitchen blog. I couldn’t resist sharing it with you as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and don’t eat all of them in one sitting. Oh well, if you do, I won’t tell anybody. Just be sure to have a tall glass of milk to wash them down. Here’s the recipe link to my Community Kitchen post.

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Stretch your dollar with flavorful rice and beans

Every Sunday I cook up a few dishes for lunch throughout the week. It takes a few hours and a little planning, but saves my sanity and figure by providing nutritious dishes during my busy workday. This week I was inspired by dry beans in my pantry. A quick peek in the vegetable drawer of the fridge and there you go, this dish was born.

Simple, yet delicious.

To me, simplicity is the best part of comfort food. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be flavorful. This recipe serves four and can be made for less than $10. If this were mid-summer, it would be much cheaper given that I have raised garden beds in my back yard. Tomatoes, peppers and veggies are plentiful during the summer and always taste better than anything in the grocery store. If you don’t grow a garden, you can always pick up fresh veggies from roadside stands or farmers’ markets. Odds are the produce will have just come from the fields just hours before you paid for it.

In addition to veggies, beans are inexpensive, go a long way and can be added to lots of dishes–soups, quesadillas, salads, etc. With the leftover beans from this Sunday, I added them to a Southwest salad of greens, onions, grilled chicken and corn with crispy tortilla strips. I urge you to try this recipe and be creative with the extra beans in some new dishes of your own! I’d love to hear what you whip up.

Melissa’s Rice and Beans

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 package salt pork (near the pork in the meat aisle)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock

Add the beans, water, salt pork and seasonings to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until beans are soft. In the meantime, add the rice and chicken stock to another pot and simmer for 45 minutes or so until all the stock is absorbed. In a serving dish, layer the rice, beans and vegetables.

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