Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas

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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.

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Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas

Ingredients

Directions

  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.

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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

Potato Bacon Soup

When it’s 7 degrees and dark outside, its hard to de-quilt and get the day going. Add two additional humans on to the morning routine, and it’s no wonder I need a cup of jet fuel to begin my winter mornings.

Jet-fuel consumed, today we were all craving creamy, comfort food. We’ve had a Swanson’s (Campbell Soup Company) Potato Soup Mix in our pantry and thought it would work perfect on this uber cold day!

Going into it, expectations were very low. Premixed soup bases can be overly salty, high in calories, or lack overall flavor.

This mix NAILED IT. Fair sodium, no msg, low 90 calories and hearty. Taste was SPOT ON!

Have you ever had creamy potato soup at a restaurant and thought, “If I could make this at home….mmmmmm.” This mix is THAT soup. Amazing.

Prep time was about 8 minutes including pulling out the dutch oven (or 10 cup large kettle), cubing the potatoes and rendering the fat off the bacon. Easy and fast. Then the soup just simmers for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. You can use whatever potato you have, I used russet baking potatoes since I have a whole big bag of them right now.

Ingredients:

We would make this again. It fed the 4 of us tonight, plus we have about 3, one cup servings left. Each serving is 90 calories. If you want to lighten it up, use milk instead of cream, although your consistency will not be as thick. You could also omit the milk and cream altogether. I sampled it before I added the cream, and it was delicious without it.

Enjoy! Clean bowl club tonight!
 

Snacking, Weeknight Dinners

English Muffin Pizza

Winter break is approaching. Kids are going to be wild. They’re going to be “bored” and they’re probably going to get on your nerves a bit, especially if you’re home with them the entire time – or if one gets sick, and the other doesn’t and you’re trapped. We can create all sorts of scenarios, but basically, I like to have some activities in mind so we can make simple stuff fun, just in case we get stuck inside.

Today Carter and I made English Muffin Pizza Faces. I know, totally just making “what school sent home as an activity to work on” – but I’m feeling like Mom of the year for actually unpacking his backpack, and taking out all these papers, and then doing the “homework” together.

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It’s my fault. This is 4K, 4K wasn’t a thing when I was a kid, so to me, this is all just “extra” and IF we have time for it, GREAT. If not, no big deal. Life is busy. Especially right now. But I’m A+ing all day today over here. Just dont look at my kitchen floor because we could honestly feed a 3rd world country with how dirty it is. That’s another blog post.

For safe and nut-free ingredients, we used Thomas’ English Muffins, Chef Boyardee pizza sauce and some veggies we had chopped up in the fridge for the toppings. If you don’t have pizza sauce / canned tomato, you can easily whip up a bechamel / white sauce.

Bechamel:::[Besh\ah\mel]

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, heated
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
  5. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com.

Hope you have a great week – things are nuts busy, try to savor the moments when you can. They are fleeting.