Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas


On Sunday mornings, after reading a bit of the New York Times, I start to think about the week ahead, how busy it might be, and what we will have for dinner. Lately we’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to think about food, nor do I want to.

I don’t day-dream about food, I just like eating it.

Coming up with recipes is challenging sometimes, I get in ruts, and making sure we’re eating a diverse menu is important. Eating the same old stuff is boring, and we like to try new things all the time.

For meal inspiration this week, I found some old Cooking Light Magazines in my pantry and pulled all of the March issues I could find. March 2014 had some pretty yummy stuff, including this recipe, Chicken Breast + Pancetta [PAN-CHETTA] Cream with Peas.

Everything is nut-free, you don’t have to worry about name brands with this dish. I’ll include links in case you’re curious as to what we used.


Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas



  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. It does not have to be non-stick.
  2. Add oil, swirl to coat your pan.
  3. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes or until fragrant. DO NOT BURN. If you do, start over.
  4. Remove garlic with slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Increase the heat to med-hi and add the bacon / pancetta.
  6. saute for 4 minutes or until crisp.
  7. Remove and set aside.
  8. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on each side and saute for 4 minutes on each side.
    1. I sauteed longer to get a little more flavor and crunchy bits on the bottom of my pan.
  9. Remove chicken and set aside.
  10. Add wine to pan and bring to a boil, scraping the bits off the bottom of pan (de-glazing). Cook until almost all liquid is evaporated
    1. Also, make sure you’re drinking some Kim, too :).
  11. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook the chicken for about 6 minutes or until chicken is all the way done.
  12. Remove the chicken from the pan (is the chicken playing the hokey-pokey? This recipe sure does take stuff in and out of the pan a lot!)
  13. Add the mascarpone cheese stirring with a whisk until smooth
    1. Mascarpone is lower in fat than making a traditional cream sauce, like butter, but still gives it the rich, creamy texture we all love.
  14. Combine water and flour, stirring with a whisk.
  15. Add flour + water mix to the hot pan, bring to a boil and cook two minutes, stir in pancetta / bacon, garlic and peas.
  16. Cook this all for about 1 minutes and serve over the chicken.


If your kids are in the kitchen, have them make some appetizer art, you’ll probably have a TON of peas left since you’ll only be using about 1 cup for the recipe, so let the kids have the rest. And tell them you “peed” on their plate. ROFL.

If you want to cut this recipe time in half, do this…..

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken.
  2. Make the sauce as directed above, omitting the meat instructions.
  3. Serve this over your rotisserie chicken or mix in your shredded rotisserie chicken into the pan and warm through. It would look more like a casserole then.

We also made some pasta to serve this over, it just needed a little something on the side.

Yield on this is 4. No leftovers. Everyone loved it. Flavor was good!

Weeknight Dinners

Build Your Own Tostada

Tostada night is a common one around here. We enjoy it because:

  1. It’s Mexican food, and Mexican tends to be easy for nut-allergies
  2. You get to make your own
  3. Beer pairs well
  4. Easy + fast

Tostadas are just like tacos, except they are giant, round, crunchy, corn tortillas that you eat like New York style pizza. Messy yet delicious.


I like to have plenty of options, so for last night, we went with:

  • McCormick taco seasoned chicken
  • Spiced black beans
  • Shredded cabbage from the garden
  • Lime wedges
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes from garden
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • LaBanderita Tostadas

If you’re purchasing these tostadas, they can be found just about anywhere, even Target. To note, they come in a giant sleeve; I haven’t been able to find a smaller size. So, either plan on having tostadas a few times in a short period of time, have friends over, or find a good way to store these. I haven’t found a super good way to store em, so we had tostadas like 3 times in 2 weeks. The kids don’t mind and they also taste great with ground beef, beans or firm, pan fried tofu.

And since I’m a marketing-minded person, PRESENTATION!!! It’s half the battle to getting kids to eat. So make it look good, you’ll feel good about it too!  I like using these Sur la Table prep bowls an extra dish or two to rinse out isn’t that big of a deal when it comes to making your serving station look pretty.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend – we will be enjoying one more time at the pool. Cheers and stay tuned for next weeks abbreviated menu board!


Weeknight Dinners

Quick Green Chicken Chili


One of the best parts of traveling is trying new food. And then taking that idea home with you and recreating it in your kitchen. I haven’t always been adventurous with creating delicious food. And I’m probably even more cautious now with a nut-allergic child. However, I still try to sample things I normally would not.

Like Green Chicken Chili.

I had a spicy version of this when we were in Chicago a few weeks ago. Technically, I consider myself a chili connoisseur. If a restaurant has chili, I try it. It’s a quest to find the BEST CHILI EVER!

After we got back from vacation, I was flipping through this months Cooking Light Magazine for meal inspiration that would work well for our family. The recipe below comes pretty darn close to what I had in Chicago. And after talking to the chef, it’s also 100% nut-free!

This recipe makes 6 servings. It’s good for dinner + easy lunches. It’s super fast because it uses tasty rotisserie chicken (I swear, my little guy could eat an entire rotisserie chicken all by himself!) Hy-Vee and Metcalfes are my favorite in Madison.


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided (I like Rachael Ray, her salt level is perfection)
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (4-oz.) cans mild chopped green chiles, drained (or if you have them in your garden, fresh is OK, too. Just seed them first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup brown rice


  1. You’ll need to get out your dutch oven, or large kettle, and a small sauce pan for your rice.
  2. First, make your rice in your small sauce pan. I like jasmine rice or brown rice. They are made the same way – just follow your package instructions. 2.5 cups of water + 2 tbsp evoo and a pinch of salt over high heat. Add the rice, bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-4 minutes until the water line is just below the rice. Cover the pot and don’t touch it for 15 minutes.
  3. Next heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over pan; cook 1 minute. Stir in cumin and chiles; cook 1 minute. Add beans and chicken stock, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and salt; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes. Stir in juice.
  5. Remove your rice from the heat and fluff – using an ice cream scooper, plop the rice into your bowls.
  6. Divide chili among 4 bowls; top with radishes, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Red Pepper Couscous

Have you ever had your credit card number compromised? I’m too familiar with this process. By now, I’m mostly annoyed.

Last year our credit card number was stolen 4 times. This year, our bank has changed our number once already (last month) out of “an abundance of caution.”

I’m super annoyed.

Naturally, I make lists. However, I haven’t made a list, YET, for all of the vendors linked to automatic bill pay with this specific card.

Now I am.

The time it takes to re-enter all of my billing information for all of these companies blows my mind. Some websites are easier than others. But some are difficult to navigate and even after I make the changes online, I still get a nasty-gram in the mail stating my bill is overdue and my credit card is invalid. Ahhhem, DirecTV, I’m pointing my finger at you, and arching my right eye-brow. That’s a warning.

This website takes data and puts it in the garbage. Nowhere to be found. Everytime I enter it. Seriously? This is my 5th time in two years, I’m considered expert. Maybe you should talk with the amazing people at Nordstrom and find out how their website works perfectly every. single. time.

For a Monday though, I’ve been productive. Even picked up a few new items from Evereve and got some serious chores done around here. Also started my annual solicitation for items for this year’s Rhapsody in Bloom Gala at Olbrich Gardens. A great summer event. And tickets are on sale NOW, you should come. Seriously, It’s fun and gorgeous and this year’s theme is New York New York.

But back to Evereve, I like the store because I don’t feel like I need to say out loud, “Is this appropriate for my age?” because 9/10 times it is A-OK for a mid-30 or 40 something. Or maybe not. These graphic shirts…I’m not so sure about? Too edgy? I don’t know. When in doubt, ask the Nanny from the University.

My contacts are sticking to my eye like glue, so I’m going to make this part quick.


The kids picked out the entire menu board this week. If you follow me on Insta you’ll see their fun-loving little May the 4th (STAR WARS DAY) items planned out – super fun and easy stuff. Tonight they wanted Angus Beef Organic Hot Dogs. Not sure how that is even a name, or physically possible, but whatever.

For the side, we made this new recipe tonight from Cooking Light Magazine (circa 2014). Yep, I save food magazines in my closet like old recipe books because I don’t have old recipe books.

Red Pepper Couscous


  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (or one bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (or 1/2 red onion)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 + 1/4 cups water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and chopped


  1. Saute bell pepper and onion in oil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add couscous
  3. Add water, salt and black pepper
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Reduce heat to low and cover for 8-10 minutes
  6. Stir in lime juice, cilantro and jalapeno
  7. Enjoy, Yield 5-6

Kids Loved it. Lots of flavor, lime juice made it. The avocado shown in the photo above was just sliced and served on the side.


For substitute, try these combos + add after preparing the couscous according to package.

  1. Parsley, 1/2 cup pecorino-romano cheese, 1 tsp grated lemon zest, salt and pepper
  2. 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup red onion, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper and crumbled feta cheese
  3. 3 tbsp fresh basil, 2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 medium nectarine


Recipe and photo credit: June 2014 issue of Cooking Light Magazine