March 25, 2012

Cooking Again + Strong Lemons

Since getting our new place I've had free reign of the kitchen once again. In our previous place, I didn't always make dinner. I LOVE that I have a husband who doesn't expect me to cook him a fancy dinner every night...or ever. He could eat macaroni or frozen chicken pot pies every day and be completely fine. Our favorite meal is actually Digiorno's (specifically, deep dish crust with meat and breadsticks on the side!). But since my cooking hiatus I've been excited to jump back in. And in the meantime, I've had more problems with my digestive system (due to stress...ugh) and learned more about eating healthy, so I have more motivation to try to cook our food so that we are eating natural, nutritious meals.

I've only tried two things so far but we have loved both of them! I realized like a day after going to the grocery store that the three meals I picked out were all pasta-based, but hey none of them required too many ingredients, and you should know how much I love pasta. 

Every time I post a recipe I feel like I have to say that I'm not trying to be a food blog, but I actually found something that is worthy of sharing! I also like sharing recipes that I've made that really need some alterations or more detailed instructions; since I am not a gourmet cook, I assume you aren't either. The simpler the better. The recipe I'm sharing today made me SO happy because it felt like a Noodles & Co. dish!! This family loves Noods and I hope to find more Noodle-esque dishes to make in the future. We particularly liked this dish because it had so much flavor*, and neither of us had ever had such a lemony flavored dinner before, but it tasted delicious.

Without further ado, Creamy Grilled Chicken Piccata
If you are like me and save recipes without reading them first, let me stop you real quick and just note that you have to marinate the chicken OVERNIGHT before serving. So prepare it in advance! Okay, skip away.
By the way, does anyone else's husband think they're strange for taking pictures of meals before serving them? I also don't like it because you have to rush and take a quick picture before the food gets cold...

Juice of 1 lemon (3Tbsp)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil or oregano
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups dried penne pasta
2 Tbsp butter
Juice of 2 lemons (6 Tbsp) about 1 1/2 (or less...or more...)*
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine first 6 ingredients and mix well.  Place chicken in a ziplock bag and pour marinade over chicken.  Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  When ready, grill until done.  Allow chicken to rest for a few minutes and then slice into strips to serve over pasta.

While chicken is grilling.  Cook pasta according to directions (10-12 minutes).  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain.  In same sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in garlic and lemon juice.  Pour in half and half and whisk until hot.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.  Add the parmesan cheese and basil and heat until cheese is melted.  Check the consistency of the sauce and add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary.  Toss in pasta.

Serve in pasta bowls with grilled chicken on top.  Sprinkle with more parmesan if desired (we desired).

*Whit found 3 gigantic lemons, which were all pretty strong, so our dish turned out overly lemon. It tasted good but next time I will definitely use less lemon juice. I suggest you do the same.

I would like to take this bottom-of-the-page time to say that when I turned on the garbage disposal tonight it churned greatly, so greatly that Whit described it as sounding like it was churning cannonballs. I was actually psyched about having a disposal because it's kind of a lame feature, but one we were lacking in Blacksburg, and then it sounds like all kinds of metal inside so I thought we ruined it. Whit saved the day....guess what he pulled out of the disposal? A big ol' rock. It must have fallen in when we were preparing Fishman's home. Whoops.

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