Friday, February 5, 2016

Spicy Chicken & Pasta and My Week

I had a great week. How about you?

I don't take great weeks for granted as much any more. There are too many variables.

That being said-it was a good week. This was week 20 of school. Which means that we are past the halfway point, and almost to 2/3 of the way done. Which is pretty exciting, I think. We are wrapping up our studies of ancient-Ancient Greece, and we'll be focusing on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age from here on out.

Freckle's 12th birthday is tomorrow. I can't believe that he is already so old. I still remember quite clearly the day he was born. He is rather earnest. He wants to be a Great Courses history professor when he grows up. 

I finally made a phone call that I'd been putting off for a while. I've been experiencing some issues (emotional and physical) since at leas the fall. Some of it was simply that I've put on weight and gotten a bit barrel-y looking, even though I eat fairly healthy and I exercise. Also, I've felt like I've been plodding in my training. It's just been hard. I chalked it up to getting older-and it is. But, just because it is that, and because it is something that women face, doesn't mean that it has to be that way. That I have to settle for that. There are some solutions, and for that I am grateful. It has improved my all around outlook this week. I have no illusions of being suddenly trim, but at least my other efforts won't be in vain either. 

Speaking of plodding...I'm still working my way through the Iliad. It's interesting. But, it's also rather graphic. Seriously....the blood and guts and even eyeballs rolling on the ground. I'm not even kidding. I've been going back and forth between the Iliad and two of Kate Morton's novels. I had never even heard of Kate Morton until all of a sudden several bloggers were writing about her newest book, The Lake House. I ordered it at my library, and devoured it within a couple of days of getting it. It was really good. I'm now reading the Secret Keeper. I love the suspenseful way that she interweaves her characters pasts and presents. If you are at all into mysteries, you should check them out. Despite the story flow, both books have happy endings, which is a really important thing to me.

We're getting ready for our cruise. Only two weeks until we leave. New clothes have been bought. Excursions have been reserved (Mayan ruins in Belize. Snorkeling in Roatan Bay). Taxes are all set for the tax appointment. Info has been compiled for my WC audit. All around, things are clicking into place. I'm really excited. I'm excited about the heat. And my brother's wedding. And the time away with my #1 Squeeze. 

This week, Anne Bogel wrote about the things that are "saving" her right now. I've been thinking about that a bit this week. Looking forward to the cruise, reading good books, finding answers to some questions have all played a big part in my "salvation" this week. 

So too have the fresh flowers Mr. Hippie has been having delivered every couple of weeks. 

And my new monthly cleaning service. Such an awesome thing! They do an amazing job. Everything looks and smells wonderful! There are unforeseen bonus perks too. Besides the fact that I don't have to clean my house the week they come, I also only have to lightly clean the following week, because it still looks great.

I also can't say how relieved I've been to have stopped attending BSF. Admittedly, I miss it. Why wouldn't I miss it? I've been together with BSF longer than I've been together with Mr. Hippie. But, it has been so wonderful to have Monday evenings free. We've been playing games as a family, which the kids have really been looking forward to, and we've all been really enjoying. Also, not having a lesson to do has freed up time in my days. Particularly on Monday and Wednesday mornings. I'm not trying to get the extra reading done and questions answered while also correcting schoolwork and teaching new concepts. I feel released from a joint burden of guilt and busy.


All this free time has given me the opportunity to try a bunch of new recipes. Four in the past two weeks alone! I'm finding new recipes on Pinterest and in other places. It's been great. Nary a flop yet. Though there are two recipes that I'm going to tweak a bit, to make them just a little bit better. The one I'm tweaking for aesthetic value, the other for technique.

The recipe I have for you today is a pasta filled with color and swamped in a spicy cream sauce. 

Golden brown chicken. Green spinach. Red tomatoes. Pink bacon. Yellowish penne. White parmesan 

So pretty, and quite healthy.

I like the bite of spicy from the crushed red pepper. You can adjust according to preference. 

Spicy Chicken & Pasta
Prep/cook time: 35 minutes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 tomatoes
3 cups fresh spinach
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed red pepper (less or more according to taste)
6 bacon strips
1-1/3 cup half & half
1-1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
16 ounces penne pasta
additional parmesan cheese

-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp over medium high heat. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Drain grease, reserving 2 Tbsp.
-Slice chicken into "chicken tender" size strips.
-In a large skillet, heat bacon grease over high heat until hot. Add the chicken strips and cook on one side for 1 minute. While they are cooking, sprinkle the uncooked side with the paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over and cook for 1 minute on the other side. Reduce heat to medium, flip chicken again, and cook covered until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.
-Mince garlic, chop tomatoes into big cubes.
-Remove chicken from skillet, slice into bite sized pieces and keep warm.
-To the same skillet, add the tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, and half the bacon, crumbled. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach wilts.
-Add the half & half, bring to a boil. Add the parmesan cheese, and stir until the sauce is creamy. Remove from heat. Season with salt as needed.
-Toss the cooked pasta with sauce, chicken and remaining bacon. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Have a great weekend!