To tide you over, I’m sharing the recipe for a salad that we have pretty much every year at Christmas. We always spend Christmas Eve at Fred’s father and stepmother’s house (we spend Christmas Eve morning with Fred’s mother and stepfather at our house for breakfast), and we usually have spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna (I grew up eating a turkey dinner type meal for Christmas, so this was kind of weird to me the first few times). We almost always have this spinach salad with that meal, and since I’m a fan of raw spinach (forget the nutritional benefits – I just LIKE it; I know, I’m weird), I finally asked for the recipe so we could occasionally have it through the year.
It’s a salad you make ahead, and it’s even fairly good (though wilted) the next day. You can’t save it for longer than that, though – it gets way too shriveled and wilted to eat, though I guess you could always pick out the mushrooms and eat those (okay, you CAN do that – I don’t know why I’m acting like I’ve never done that.)
Sliced mushrooms (you could always buy whole mushrooms and slice them, if that’s what floats your boat), spinach (I use baby spinach), red wine vinegar, minced garlic, spinach, salad oil (I use olive oil). Not pictured: salt and pepper.
First, whisk the red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, and pepper together in a plastic dish.
Add the mushrooms, toss, and let marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so.
Put your spinach in a big plastic container, toss with the olive oil.
Add the marinated mushrooms (including any marinade left in the dish) to the spinach, toss, and then chill for a couple of hours.
This stuff is so good and so easy, I hope you give it a try and like it as much as we do – I’m looking forward to having it again next week!
Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Laura’s Unbelievable Chicken and Pasta, found over at BookCooking.net. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.
This week’s recipe was my choice. I’d love to tell y’all where I found it, but once again I don’t remember. Pinterest, maybe? In any case, I’ve always got my eye out for quick and easy chicken recipes because we raise (and eat) our own chickens. The only kind of recipes that get me more excited than chicken-based recipes are egg-based recipes. I love eggs, and we eat tons of them (and my cholesterol is so good my doctor looks at me like I’m lying when I tell her how many eggs I eat on a weekly basis).
Chicken, cut into 1-inch strips. The recipe calls for 4 chicken breast halves, but I used 6 because our chickens are smaller than the factory-raised chicken you get in the store. Chicken broth (which I canned myself), cream cheese (I used neufchatel), spinach, penne pasta, and cherry (Sungold) tomatoes from our garden. Those tomato plants just kept hanging in there. I think they’re about done for (it’s starting to get down into the high 30s at night), but it still amazes me that they last so far into October.
Cook your penne pasta according to package instructions.
Do you know about putting a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to stop the water from boiling over? Someone told me about it (I don’t remember who), and it works like a charm.
Meanwhile, in a big pan over medium heat, cook your chicken in your broth for about 10 minutes, until it’s done. I’m not one for fancy-bitch cooking terms, but I believe this is called “poaching” your chicken (but I could be wrong.)
Not quite done, but it’s getting there:
Stir in your cream cheese (which you cubed, if you were following instructions. I didn’t actually do that; I just tossed the whole block in there. It’s soft; it melted quickly enough. If I’d had to cube that stuff before adding it to the pan, I would have gotten it all over the place and then the obscenities would have started and probably I would have told the cream cheese to go fuck itself.) and your spinach. Stir. Return it to a simmer and cook for about five minutes, stirring now and again.
Then stir in your cherry tomatoes and cook another three minutes. Mix it together with the pasta, then throw it in a bowl and then eat.
Offer some to Petey Pickle.
“Really? NOW you offer some to me? Where were you when I was HUNGRY for just plain old cream cheese and you were tossing it in the pan? Fuck off, lady.”
The verdict? WAY too much pasta. I like pasta as much as the next gal, but how about some freakin’ protein up in this shit? I’ll probably make it again, only I’ll double the amount of chicken and halve the amount of pasta, if not quarter it. And double the number of cherry tomatoes.
I liked the cheesiness of the sauce, though, and we ate it for dinner for two nights, and then I had it for lunch one day. Definitely needs some tweaking, though.
Truth Game: I was in no mood to cook when I made this recipe. Everyone was talking about Hurricane Sandy and I managed to let it work my last nerve. I’m from Pittsburgh and although we do not have to deal with hurricanes, it was reported that we were going to have high winds with rain and possible snow. After having experienced the power outage and storm damage from this summer, I decided that thistime I was going to be prepared.
Being prepared did not mean making a stupid penne pasta dish. I had shit to round up like candles, flashlights and battery operated radios. And I needed to make sure my iPod was filled with new podcasts! Priorities, people. Priorities. Penne pasta? Not so much on my list of things to do. And to make matters worse, I had company that was all up in my business (more on that later).
I had purchased all the ingredients ahead of time so I would be prepared to make this dish. I was annoyed when I saw cherry tomatoes as one of the ingredients because we all know how well that turned out the last time we had them. When I finally went to cook this dish I realized I was suppose to have had the spinach thawed ahead of time. Dammit!
This is me performing WWT (Warm Water Thawing). It’s a technique I perfected years ago and no housewife worth her salt should go without learning how to do this. Hee!
Diced chicken being cooked in chicken broth is kinda gross.
I threw my spinach in before the cream cheese had finished melting. I don’t know if I was supposed to do that or not, but my company was being a wee bit demanding and I couldn’t really focus on the recipe.
Thanks to my mom for cutting those damn cherry tomatoes for me! Shirley is the shits!
Make sure you have a big pasta bowl ready because the recipe calls for the entire box and GODDAMN, that’s a whole lotta pasta!
Action shot! I’m sure my company thought I was crazy when they saw me struggling to pour this mess while taking a photograph at the same time. But you know what? I’m just going to say it. I did not, nor do I ever, care about what these particular kitchen guests think of me because I am sick and tired of the way that they judge. Yeah. I said it.
Dump it. And give it a good stir to mix everything up. I think I cooked the cherry tomatoes too much because it appears they may have exploded. Oh well.
Done. The recipe was easy and very forgiving. Everybody loved it, except my company…
The ladies had just come from church and they were busy judging me harshly. From the clothes I was wearing to the food that I cooked. They actually turned up their noses and sniffed at me!
And this one, HA! The biggest hypocrite of all…thinking I wouldn’t notice that she had helped herself to extra communion wafers while no one was looking. I wonder what the church will think of her when they find out, hmmm. Me thinks that maybe Miss Judgy McJudgypants should watch her step around me or I will be glad to point the local parish to this site.
Don’t push your luck, Sister. Don’t push your luck.
Laura's Unbelievable Chicken & Pasta - Nance & Robyn make the same recipe.
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch strips
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 (8 ounce) package cold cream cheese, cubed
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (16 ounce) package dry penne pasta
Bring large pot of water to a boil, and cook penne pasta according to package instructions.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken strips in broth; simmer until done, about 10 minutes. Stir in cubed cream cheese and spinach. Return to simmer, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cherry tomatoes, and cook about 3 minutes more.
In a large bowl, mix together cooked, drained pasta and sauce. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Next time I make it, I'll double the amount of chicken and cherry tomatoes, and at least halve - if not quarter - the amount of pasta. (Robyn)