Melissa's Table

Experiments with Pinterest recipes!

Chicken And Asparagus Penne September 8, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I let my husband, Matt, choose this one. He’s been hassling me to cook something “with noodles” ever since I let him choose last time. Plus, I think he wanted to redeem himself after that disaster. His second choice surprised me. I was expecting him to choose one of the Asian dishes I’d pinned. Honestly, I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while. I think I pinned it because the picture looked so wonderful. I was less impressed with the actual recipe and would probably have never tried this one. Of course, I found out later that my husband chose because of the picture too. Let’s cook!

The Pin: Chicken And Asparagus Penne by GoodnessGracious.com

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Hard)

The ingredients.

FOOD!

A few things here:

  1. I used chicken thighs instead of the recommended chicken breasts. When I went to the store to pick up the chicken, the breasts were close to double the price of the thighs. Ridiculous! In general, I prefer thighs anyway, so there you go.
  2. I halved everything in this recipe except the chicken. When I cook, it’s typically for my husband and me. We’re terrible about eating leftovers for more than a day, so I try not to cook too much at a time unless I’m going to freeze some. That and I only had 8 oz. of asparagus instead of one pound the full recipe requires.
  3. The recipe itself does not tell you how to season the chicken. The blogger chose to use Lawry’s. I’ve never tried Lawry’s, didn’t have it in the house, so I sort of made up my own seasoning. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and parsley. Like the blogger I sauteed the chicken on the stovetop.

So basically, you cook the chicken, boil the pasta and nuke the asparagus, throw it all into a baking dish with some oil, top with cheese and broil for 5ish minutes. The recipe didn’t tell me to do this, but when I put oil in the baking dish, I used the oil from the pan that I sauteed the chicken in. I thought it might give the pasta more flavor. I also added a few pinches of salt to the mix before broiling. It looks a bit like this.

Cheesy!

You know when you let your husband choose a dish and he only looks at the picture and doesn’t bother reading the recipe and then is disappointed when you serve him dinner? Yeah, that sort of happened.

For me it was better than I was expecting. For Matt is was a complete disappointment. Based on the picture, he was expecting there to be a white or cream sauce. Still, it was good. Not great but good, though we both agree it felt like three separate components mixed together. The dish didn’t mesh. There was nothing binding the three main ingredients together. It would have been just as good separated: a piece of chicken with a side of asparagus and cheesy pasta. The sauce that Matt was anticipating probably would have done this. Then there’s the cheese. The recipe urges you to broil until the cheese is “nice and crunchy.” Mine may have been more on the crunchy side than necessary, but we both would have preferred it just melty, no crunch.

So like I said. A solid good. Something to try if you’re looking for something easy and different.

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

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Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup August 21, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

If you frequent my home page, you’ll know that I had an ear issue this past week. Let’s just say I haven’t had my ears professionally cleaned in 32 years. Happily, this is mostly resolved because earaches are not good times! But, just as my ears were clearing, my husband came down with a tummy bug. He’s better now, and so far my son and I haven’t caught it. (Fingers crossed!) While he was sick, the only thing he wanted to eat was soup, so, being the kind and loving wife I am, I went out twice the first day and bought him Chicken Noodle Soup. On my second outting, I realized we were wasting money. I could make soup just as tasty and healthier to boot. And so I did.

The Pin: Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup by The Quilt Ladies (via Creatively Domestic)

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Really Hard)

There are actually two versions of the recipe on this page. I went with the crockpot version because it seemed easier, and I’m all for simplicity when I cook.

Yup, looks like soup to me!

This recipe calls for “one 15 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained.” While I tend to stay true to the recipes I use for this blog, I deviated a bit when it came to the corn. My husband and I love fresh corn on the cob, but neither he nor I particularly enjoy corn when it’s cooked into things. So I left it out. Feel free to put corn in your soup. I’ll allow it.

I gathered the ingredients together and prepped my veggies the night before.

I don’t normally take many pictures during prep, but this looked kind of pretty.

I eyeballed the measurements when chopping, so this is probably slightly more than half a cup of each. The plan was to throw everything into the crockpot when my son got me up at the butt-crack of dawn the following morning. And he did. He woke me up around 6 a.m., so I started crocking around 6:30. The instructions are short and sweet, “Add everything but the noodles and cooked chicken to the crock pot on Low for 5-6 hours, the last hour turn on High, and add noodles and chicken.” Simple right? Perhaps too simple for me. The only seasonings are salt and pepper. I really had to restrain myself from putting in garlic or onion powder or basil or… I think you get the point.

For the chicken, the recipe calls for “2 cups cooked chicken chopped or 2 cans canned cooked chicken.” I try to avoid canned food in general, plus canned chicken is kind of gross. I could have bought a rotisserie chicken, but I opted to cook my own. Since there are no chicken cooking instructions, I made up my own. I baked six boneless skinless thighs for about 45ish minutes on 300. I wanted them almost done, so they wouldn’t overcook in the crockpot.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and basil.

Around 11:00 I added the cooked, diced chicken and the egg noodles into the crock pot and turned it up to high. At this point I also added an extra cup of chicken broth (I used six cups total instead of the recommended five) because I was worried the noodles would soak up all the the liquid. This happened to me on my last crock pot soup adventure. That batch of lentil soup came out more like soggy mush than soup. Anyhoo, an hour later, I had soup!

Left: Mine – Right: The Quilted Ladies

It was really good though I suppose it would be difficult to make bad chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what my husband’s crampy upset stomach needed. I’m glad now that I restrained myself and didn’t add any extra seasoning because the flavor of the broth was perfect. The green onions and the white onions along with a bit of salt and pepper gave it the perfect flavor. The vegetables were soft, but not mushy. Next time I cook this I would add more carrots and celery. We like a lot of veggies in our soup. My husband felt the chicken was a little bland. Either I didn’t season it well enough when I baked it, or the seasoning came off in the broth. Either way, this is probably my fault, not the recipes. Still, this wasn’t overly noticeable since the broth was so flavorful. The only real issue was that the egg noodles were slightly mushy. I don’t think they needed the full hour on high in the crock pot. I would say put the chicken in for the last hour and the noodles in for maybe the last 30 minutes.

Overall this was a really good chicken noodle soup recipe. I’d make this one again.

Mmmmmmm.

Final Rating: 7 (1 = Bad, 10 = Delicious!)

 

Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack And Spinach August 1, 2012

(View this post at it’s new home here.)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good chicken dinner? “Good,” of course, being the qualifying word. Chicken is great! It’s cheap and easy to cook. The problem is, at least for me, it gets boring fast. I grew up eating a lot of chicken. I mean, a lot of chicken. It was, and probably still is, one of my mother’s favorite things to cook. That being said, I went though a period of time where I was sick of chicken.

I’m no longer sick of chicken, but I still look for ways to keep it new and interesting. Stuffed chicken breasts are a great way to do that. Sure you can buy them pre-made in the freezer section, but they’re expensive and loaded with… well, all that bad stuff that goes into frozen food. Thus, I decided to try out this pinned recipe:

The PinCajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach by Cooking Creation.

Difficulty Rating: 5  (1 = Opening a Twinkie, 10 = Rack of Lamb)

I gathered my ingredients. One of the items on the list is “lots of toothpicks.” “Lots of toothpicks” is not pictured below because I neglected to pick up toothpicks and had to run back out shortly after snapping this picture.

That red powder in the tupperware is my Cajun seasoning.

Basically, you shred the cheese, mix it with the spinach, beat some chicken flat (I’m resisting the urge to make a “beat your meat” joke. Oops, too late!), roll it up and season. Oh, and don’t forget to use your “lots of toothpicks” to keep it all together. For the Cajun seasoning, I used Cooking Creation’s own recipe here. Instead of Italian breadcrumbs, I used panko partly because I like the texture better and partly because it’s what I had in the house.

Here’s what it looks like pre-oven:

Mmmm, raw chicken breast.

Forty-ish minutes later, I had the final product:

Left: Mine – Right: Cooking Creation’s

Left: Mine – Right: Cooking Creation’s

Maybe mine didn’t look as pretty, but it was tasty! I’m always worried about drying out chicken breasts, but these were tender and moist. The Cajun seasoning gave it a nice kick. Just the right amount of heat and flavor, though I’d probably add more salt next time. Unfortunetely, the filling was a bit of a mess. The recipe tells you to cook the breasts seam down, but even though I toothpicked the crap out of that chicken, most of the cheese leaked out. You can see in the picture above that about 90% of my cheese wound up on the pan. You still get the overall flavor of the pepper jack and there are remnants in the spinach which gives it a nice creamy consistency, but I was really looking for an explosion of molten cheesy awesomeness. Next time, I might try cooking it seam up. Here was our dinner…

See that biscuit? That’s my next blog, so stay tuned!

Final Rating: 7.5  (1 = Never Again! – 10 = Yummm!)

I’d make this recipe again. My husband and I both enjoyed it.