June 22, 2010

Happy anniversary my love

I wanted to do something special for our anniversary, despite our financial difficulties. If you know anything about my husband, you know why I decided the most special-est thing I could do for him was make some homemade bread.

Ready for the oven

I used the Basic White Bread recipe from the KitchenAid cookbook. This is my third attempt at this project and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it! I will prevail over my fear of baking. Oh yes... I will prevail...

Using the baker's rack as intended, for once.

To go with that, I whipped up a kind of bastardized chicken cacciatore-type dish for supper. Here's the lowdown.

Skillet Chicken Pasta

What I used:
  • About 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Half a Spanish onion, minced
  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • About a third pound of pasta shells
  • Oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley and cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
Here's where I'll throw in the at-home Chopped challenge disclaimer. If I was making this "for real," I'd much prefer to use tri-color rotini. It's no different taste-wise but it just looks prettier. I'd also probably add more vegetables, like bell peppers, carrots, and such.

On to the instructions. Set a skillet on a medium burner and let it get hot. Meanwhile put a pot of water on medium, with a little salt.

Put the olive oil in your hot skillet. Keep an eye on it until you just start to see smoke. (Careful with this step, olive oil scorches very easily.) Toss in the onion and garlic and sautee them until they're transparent and just starting to brown.

Dump in the chicken cubes and keep stirring until they're no longer pink on the outside. Then, using a paring knife and your fingers, you basically want to shred the whole tomatoes into the skillet. Stir that around a bit, then pour in the juice from the tomato can.

At this point, reduce the heat to medium-low, and season with any or all those herbs and spices. It should be strongly seasoned, almost overpowering. The flavor will even out once you've added the pasta.

(NOTE: There's a secret ingredient I used here, which I learned from Gina back in college. If you want to know, you'll have to ask her. She's a Chicago Italian, and I like my kneecaps.)

Once your water starts to boil, dump in the pasta. Cook it about 3/4 of the recommended time. I know it's ready by fishing out a piece and biting into it. It should be not-quite-tender in the middle. At that point it goes into the skillet. Let it all simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.

This took less than 30 minutes, chopping time included.

So we had pasta for dinner, with salad greens and the Italian dressing I made yesterday. (Which, can I just say? Got a lot more delicious overnight.) We topped it off with a little Parmesan and mozzarella. It's not the anniversary dinner I might have imagined, but Doug's grunts of satisfaction told me it was good enough.

"Mmf, ungh," Damn baby!

We cut into the bread while it was totally still warm. Doug just had his with butter, but I made mine into dessert with a bit of peach preserves I bought from the farmer's market.

Doug: "Takes me back to childhood." Awww...

Happy anniversary my love. One of these years we'll do it up right. In the meantime, I'm sure glad you like my cooking.

Oh, and one last thing. My bread is turning out a little denser than I really like. Anybody out there a baking genius with tips for a better rise?


  1. How sweet of you Misty! Happy Anniversary! The entire meal looks delish. Doug is one lucky guy.

  2. If I could manage to only put that much pasta on my plate it would be a miracle.

  3. Thanks G. We're both really lucky.

    Haha, Casey. It helps if you dish out the salad first. :)


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