Friday, October 16, 2015

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Well, one week ago today (last Thursday...I almost always write these Friday posts on Thursday), I was sitting in O'hare waiting-waiting for my delayed plane to load. Our flight was delayed because someone broke the latch of an overhead compartment with their carryon. Trying to shove it into the bin that it didn't quite fit in. Because the compartment also housed the emergency kit, they wouldn't take off until the latch was fixed. Which required, first a wait for the mechanic. Then a wait for the replacement door. Then a wait for replacement bolts to attach the door to the plane. 


I was thankful that this was my connection, so I wasn't going to miss another flight because of the delay. I was also thankful that it was only me waiting, and not myself and four kids-that I had to keep occupied. I was also thankful that I had a nice thick book to read. The bonus 2 hours was fine by me.

I had a wonderful time in Texas. It is always a chore to get out the door. (why do I feel it is necessary to wash the towels before I go and to do haircuts? They've waited this long-they could wait longer.) And the home coming can be overwhelming. (the bedding, the clothes sorting, the applesauce, the cupboard cleaning) But, it was so good to be there-with my family.

My sister, and her four beautiful children, picked me up from the airport. We lunched, and drove, and talked non-stop. It was great. No one knows you like your family. I think it is the shared roots thing.

On Friday, my brother-in-law had the day off work, so he watched their kids, and my sister and I had girl time. We shopped, ate, and got pedicures. Then we met up with my other two sisters for dinner, painting, and pie. I surprised myself with how well my painting turned out. I can't claim much credit. I followed a picture, and then the instructors also drew on the outline of my idea, which I then painted in. How hard is that? 

We finished Friday evening at a pie place. I got an amazing slice of pie. It was a ganache like chocolate filling in a pretzel crust. I am inspired to copy it. The filling was not as thick as ganache-more whipped-but it wasn't pudding like either. It's going to be a challenge, but a challenge I am willing to accept.

My parents picked me up bright and early on Saturday morning, and we headed to downtown Dallas for the State Fair. It was like your normal county 4H fair, but on steroids. More rides. More animals. More cars. More fried food. And way more people! There was a Longhorn/OU football game on Saturday. Which means absolutely nothing to me. But I guess it is a pretty big deal for them. The Cotton Bowl is on the fairgrounds, which didn't pose much of a problem until the game let out. Then it was wall to wall people. A good portion of which were rather shnockered. I am glad my kids were not with me. If you got separated from your kids, it would be hard to find them again. Kind of scary.

The three of us went out to dinner with my brother and his fiancee. Whom I hadn't met yet. It was great to finally meet her. She is gorgeous and tall and smart and seems very nice.

It was a late to bed night, and an up early morning, to get to the airport in time to wing my way home. A whirlwind trip, but such a blessing to go. I am hoping to make it an annual thing. Because sisters need time together.

I moved busily through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-cleaning house, cooking, and doing projects. And today (like I said-it's Thursday) is my birthday. My family showered me with gifts. The new Cinderella movie. Scented, blue nail polish. (I don't know why, but the girls always buy me blue nail polish. They say it's because blue is my favorite color. It's not my favorite polish color.)  Mr. Hippie bought me a Le Creuset frying pan. Both for cooking and photography purposes. The bff bought me a bunch of white plates and bowls-also for photography purposes. Which should improve all my food pics.=) 

Birthdays aren't as spectacular occasions as we age, but they are still great markers, and I've had a good day.

I have a marvelous recipe for you today! It is so pretty! Plus so full of flavor that it makes your taste buds holler!

There are golden toasted pine nuts. Toasting nuts enhances their nutty flavor.

There are the red sun-dried tomatoes, which add their intense burst of tomatoey flavor.

There are the black olive disks.

There are the pieces of sautéed chicken nestled in the pasta.

There are the green and healthy leaves of spinach.

And a delicious but light wine sauce is poured over all.

You need to run to the store for these ingredients.

I will say that this is a more fussy recipe than most I share here. But, it is so worth the effort. Really. I may make this for our employee Christmas party this year. It is that good.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta
Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 30 minutes, Total time: 45 minutes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Greek or Italian seasoning
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 large cloves garlic
2 shallot
6 Tbsp jarred sun dried tomatoes, plus additional for garnish
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp corn starch
4 oz (1 cup) Feta cheese
6 Tbsp butter
2 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
16 ounces Penne pasta
kosher salt, black pepper
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
sliced black olives

-Cook the pasta according to package directions.
-Toast pine nuts by roasting on a pan in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and toasty smelling.
-Peel and chop the garlic and the shallots.
-In a sauce pan, cook 2 Tbsp olive oil, half the garlic and half the shallots. Sauté until golden brown and then add the white wine. Bring to a boil, and reduce by half, stirring frequently.
-In a measuring cup or bowl, mix the chicken broth and cornstarch. Add to the reduce wine sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Season with the salt and pepper.
-Strain the sauce and discard the garlic and shallots.
-Cut each breast into 2-3 pieces and season with the Greek or Italian seasoning.
-In a large skillet over medium high, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter.
-Sauté the chicken until it is well browned on both sides.
-Add in the other half of the chopped garlic and shallots. Add in the sun dried tomatoes and half the garlic wine sauce. Add in the remaining butter and half the feta cheese. Stir in the chopped spinach and drained noodles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
-To finish, add the remaining garlic wine sauce, garnish with the remaining feta, toasted pine nuts and sliced olives.
-Serve with baguette and salad, if desired.

Have a great weekend!