Garlic and Herb Pasta with Chicken, Shallots, Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

Last weekend I stumbled upon a cute little farmers market in my area.  One of the vendors was called Pappardelle, who specializes in homemade pasta.  They sell pasta in all different flavors; ranging from chive and lemon to sun-dried tomato.  We picked up a simple ‘garlic and herb’ linguine, and have been anxious to try it out ever since.

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Aren’t the hooks so cute!?

It was hard for me to find a true “recipe” to use this pasta in because the pasta already has so many flavors- garlic, thyme, rosemary- in it.  So, I actually did something I rarely do and made my own concoction.  I am obsessed with onions and cherry tomatoes, and the Liberty on Less blog inspired me to add feta cheese.  Really, how can you ever go wrong by adding cheese?

I heated minced shallot and ginormous, plump cherry tomatoes in a little EVOO on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes were just about to burst.

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Thank you Fresh Market for these beauties.

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As that was heating, I boiled the pasta and grilled some chicken breasts seasoned with rosemary and crushed black pepper.  I then topped the pasta with the warm tomato mixture, grilled chicken, and sprinkled in some a ton of feta cheese.  I actually meant to drizzle some more olive oil on the finished product but forgot to.

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The verdict?

Eh.

I was very pleased with the flavor combination of chicken/tomatoes/feta/shallots, and my improvisation of ingredients.  Yay me.

However, I was very unimpressed with the pasta.  I’m sorry but $5-$6 for 8.oz of pasta is insane as it is, but this “flavored” pasta was BLAND!  I was so really hoping that this pasta would be a farmers market “gem” of mine, but it definitely was not.  I certainly would not recommend this pasta, or at least this flavor, to anybody.  Bummer.

2 morals to this story:

1. Save your bucks for uber fresh produce at Farmers Markets and stick to good ol’ supermarket pasta.

2.  Feta and tomatoes are amazing together,and make any meal better.

Disclaimer: I booked two (yes two!) vacations last night, both in the month of May.  Translation: time to get in shape!  So, don’t be surprised if the food featured on here gets kicked up a notch on the health scale.  (Even though I try to be healthy anyways)

I hope everyone is having a great week and your meals are turning out a bit more satisfying than mine.

xx

White Bean Chicken Chili

Sometimes, trying new recipes can be exhausting.  Sometimes, after a tedious, never-ending day of work and chores, you just want to come home and cook something reliable. Something that you know will turn out delicious and requires minimal work.

Those are totally the kind of days weeks I’ve been having.  This white bean chicken chili is one of our all time favorite recipes for a few years now.  It is filling, healthy, oh-so-tasty, makes enough for about 6-7 meals, inexpensive, and not terribly time consuming.  This chili is essentially the ‘total package’ of dinners.

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I found it a few years ago on AllRecipes, and have adapted it over time based on personal tastes and reviewers suggestions.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Adapted from this AllRecipes recipe (I promise my changes are better- they have been years and 30 batches in the making)

You Will Need:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 large can salsa verde
  • 2 (16 oz) cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted or basil flavors are great)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken meat (rotisserie saves time, not money)
  • 1/2 large bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • crunchy bread to serve along side is “optional”

Directions

  1. Heat oil on medium-high heat, and cook onion and garlic until soft
  2. Stir in broth, salsa verde, diced tomatoes, and spices.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 10 minutes
  4. Add corn, chicken, and beans, and simmer for as long as possible to allow flavors to come together (20 minutes or more ideal)

This chili is SO good and very filling as well.  Despite how filling it is, I always go back for seconds.  And you will too.  Trust me.

So much has happened this week, I cannot wait to blog about it all.  Many exciting and scary changes ahead.  But for now… chili.

Chicken In A Pastry

Finally, after a week of hectic schedules and grab-and-go food, we were able to cook a nice dinner last night: chicken in a pastry!  Before I blog any further, I must tell you guys that I am aware the pictures of this meal are rather unappealing.  There is only so much Instagram and Photo-toaster can do for an un-photogenic meal.  However, I promise you the taste makes up for the appearance!

Chicken in a Pastry

Chicken in a Pastry

This is seriously the easiest meal to make- you only need 3 ingredients!

  • Puff Pastry Sheets (I used Pillsbury)
  • A soft, spreadable herb/cheese mixture, such as Rondele, (I used the light variety)
  • Cooked, cubed chicken, either baked or cooked in a pan until just cooked.

I apologize for not having step-by-step pictures- we were a bit pressed for time.  Next time I make this I will inset the photos into this post.  But, no worries,  this recipe is fool-proof.

Chicken in a Pastry

  1. Season chicken with salt and freshly cracked pepper and cook in the oven or on a frying pan until just cooked through.  *It is important not to dry out the chicken by overcooking now, as you will bake the chicken once more for about 15 minutes.  Once cooked, dice the chicken into small chunks. Set chicken aside.
  2. Defrost pastry sheets according to directions on box.
  3. Cut the sheets into desired sized squares.  In the Pillsbury sheets, you get two full sheets that each break into thirds.  I then cut each third into thirds again to make one square (this is your desired pastry).  This will yield 18 total squares which equals 18 filled pastries when done.  Depending on the brand you use, and whether or not this is a meal/appetizer etc.., you will need to eyeball the appropriate size you want your pastries to be.
  4. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the herbed cheese onto a square and place about 3-4 small chunks of chicken on top of the cheese.  Bring the four corners of the pastry square up and press them together, forming a pocket so that all of the filling is enclosed.  Repeat for each square.
  5. Lay all of the pastry squares on a foil-lined baking sheet (dull side up) and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry shell is just turning golden brown.
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Chicken in a Pastry

This is seriously one of the most comforting and simple meals ever.  I served it along with a nice fresh salad of spring mix lettuce, diced pairs, blueberries, and walnuts dressed with oil and vinegar.

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Salad with pear, blueberries, and walnuts

I know this is not really a “recipe” necessarily, as the idea of stuffing puffed pastry sheets with cheese and filling is not new.  But, I hope I at least planted a seed in your mind for the next time you need an easy yet comforting dinner that leaves you both full and satisfied :)

I just wanted to mention the addition of my “Best Thing I Ever Ate” section to the blog.  This section will be documenting my absolute favorite foods in different categories. It is a work in progress, but please check it out.  I would love to hear any feedback anybody has to offer.

Now, off to enjoy a very not homemade but equally satisfying dessert: girl scout cookies!  It was brought to my attention the other day that most types of girl scout cookies can actually be found year-round in the grocery store from other brands (i.e. Keebler “grasshoppers” = thin mints).  However, I feel that there is a certain nostalgia/special element to girl scout cookies that makes them so special, even if they are not necessarily the best, most unique cookies ever.  What do you guys think?  Worth the $3/ box for a bite of your childhood?  I think yes!

Rachel Ray Pesto Presto Chicken: Three Bites Enough

The other night I wanted to try a recipe that looked delicious, involved relatively little prep time, and didn’t appear too challenging.  So, I turned to my trustworthy friend Rachel Ray and tried her “Pesto Presto Chicken”.

The only substitution I made was to use walnuts instead of pine nuts in the recipe because is it really necessary to purchase 1 TBS of pine nuts? Exactly.  Her detailed recipe can be found here.  The ultimate result is chicken stuffed with a cheese/basil/parsley/nut pesto topped with tomatoes, EVOO, and some parmesean cheese.

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This meal sounds delicious.  It even looks delicious.  It even tasted delicious for the first three bites.  The flavor of the warm pesto stuffing is great, and the broiled tomatoes on top are a excellent touch.  So what is my beef with this chicken dish (humor the pun)?  The chicken on both the top and the bottom of the dish makes it too meaty and in my mind, you do not get enough of that gooey delicious center.  Instead you get lots and lots of chicken.  I am very picky with the proportions of flavors in my food, and while some bites tasted great, others just tasted like chicken.  It should be noted, I suppose, that my boyfriend loved this dish.  So it is certainly worth a taste if you like a lot of meat in your bite.

Even though this recipe was easy, it still took about 45 min. to prepare.  I didn’t quite love it enough to make again myself.  There are far too many ways I can use those precious 45 minutes on a busy week night.  I could study, clean, read a book, or catch up on 1.5 episodes of the Big Bang Theory.  If you think those possibilities were mentioned in increasing order of likeliness, you are correct.