Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipes: Chicken and Broccoli Penne

Ok friends, this recipe has been met with resounding success in our household due totally to the following two things - 1. It is healthy and filling. 2. There is roasted broccoli involved. And roasted broccoli is basically mankind's greatest achievement.

This dish is really three separate pieces that get thrown together at the end into a delicious pile. I think you'll like it.

Chicken and Broccoli Penne


2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2" - 2" pieces
3-4 stalks of fresh broccoli cut into florets (approximately 4 cups)
2 cups penne pasta
1 cup chicken broth, divided
3 TB olive oil, divided
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB fresh lemon juice, divided (approximately 1 lemon's yield)
1/4 cup plus 2 TB Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/4 tsp of each altogether)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss broccoli with 2 TB olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in an even layer on the cookie sheet.

Roast for about 25 minutes stirring 3-4 times during cooking to ensure they are evenly browned. Once broccoli is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. Toss roasted broccoli with 1 TB lemon juice and 2 TB Parmesan cheese.  Set aside. *Side note: This broccoli also makes an excellent side dish all on its own.

2. Once the broccoli is in the oven, fill a small saucepan (or similar pot) with 2/3 cup chicken broth and 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil. Add 2 cups penne and cook until al dente. About 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside. 

3. As your pasta begins boiling, heat up a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 TB olive oil. Season your chicken breast pieces with salt and pepper to taste and add to the heated skillet. Saute, flipping chicken occasionally for about 5 minutes until the pieces are almost cooked through.

Next add 1/3 cup chicken broth, 2 TB balsamic vinegar and 1 TB lemon juice to the pan. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes then remove from heat.

4. Add cooked pasta, roasted broccoli and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to chicken in skillet. Stir well to thoroughly combine.

This recipe makes 4 generous servings that top out at 500 calories and 16 grams of fat a piece. You can top each serving with a little extra Parmesan if you so desire.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art: Chalkboard Sketch

Lollipop, Lollipop!

Back about 100 years ago, or at least it feels that long ago, I bought a giant bag of Dum Dum lollipops. You know the bag - it's so massive that its contents end up occupying some part of your pantry for far longer than they should? Five years later you're still trying to pawn off the root beer flavor on some kids at Halloween? Yeah, the big one.

Anyway, Willow recently discovered that we had this treasure in our possession, and since lollipops are already her favorite, she has taken to asking for one at least ten times a day. Typically, she is easily dissuaded by a simple redirect. But recently she has become quite difficult to say no to.

Since I say no to her question of, "Wolpop?!" at least 95% of the time, she has gotten the hint that this question usually results in negative responses. So, she tried an experiment - she changed something about the question she asked in the hope that the type of answer she got would change too - smart, no? :)

Now had she opted to change the content of the question by asking for an apple instead I would have been supremely pleased (and probably patting myself on the back for totally acing parenting). But, no. That is not exactly what she decided to go with. To her, the obvious choice was to change her volume as she asked - so she started whispering it to me.

I can't begin to tell you how precious this is - hence the whole difficulty in saying no. I love the whole conclusion she made - that somehow asking more quietly would be less offensive to me, and I might say yes more often. In truth, she was right. I have said yes more often. Because of the cuteness, guys.

But, I knew I needed to put my foot down. So recently I decided to put on my mean mommy hat and be firm. A whole day without lollipops. Zero. I was steadfast. No longer would I be the willing pawn of cuteness. My resolve would not waver. Famous last words, right?

It started out totally fine. The first few inquiries were deflected easily enough but as the afternoon wore on and I continued to decline I began to sense her growing desperation.

The whispers grew quieter, but screechier at the same time, too. She practically wheezed it at me once.

I started to feel bad for the kid - also, I was having a hard time holding back laughter. And it's tough to have your kid take you seriously when you break into a grin while doling out a no.

One such laughing fit forced me to turn my back on her quickly to gain composure. As I turned around a minute later my heart just burst because there she was, my lollipop loving little girl, pleading with her eyes while she emphatically mouthed the word "WOLPOP!" on an endless loop. Even a whisper was too much now. The only choice was no sound. Silence. And every ounce of determination she had.

So what did I do?

I gave her a lollipop, of course.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Music for Cool People: 1/8/13

This song makes me think about mountains. And George Harrison. I like it a lot. 

Tame Impala - It's Not Meant to Be