Archive for the ‘Italian-ish’ Category

Marinara Chicken with Pasta

October 22, 2009

Dinner plans began tonight (as they do many nights) by digging through the fridge in search of bits and left overs needing to be used up.  Tonight I found a about 4 ounces of leftover stewed tomatoes  from our meatloaf a couple nights back, and some Little Caesars Crazy Bread from last nights pizza picnic at the lake.  Sound like something Italian to me…Marinara Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Pasta, Side Salad and Bread Sticks.  And for dessert, fresh tapioca pudding with strawberries.

First, a most fabulous super quick recipe for marinara!  (My handy-dandy Betty Crocker was mum on this subject, so this my own version…which turned out oh-so-wonderfully if I do say so myself!)

  • In a food processor or blender mix together any sort of tomatoes (I used stewed, but fresh or canned diced would work just as well I’m sure) with some Basil (fresh really adds something special if you have it on hand) and Oregano; add enough white wine to get the consistency of a spaghetti sauce.  We usually have a bottle of white wine open in the fridge, but if you don’t have any on hand try using olive oil instead which will make for a delicious “red pesto”.
  • I found starting with about 4 oz of stewed tomatoes I ended up with just the perfect amount of sauce to smother two huge chicken breasts.


Time in Kitchen:  about 20 minutes / Total prep+cook time: 30-40 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts

  1. Set a pot of water on to boil for your pasta…add some salt and it will boil faster.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Mix up marinara sauce in a food processor or blender.
  4. Pound chicken breasts thin and place in baking dish; drizzle with olive oil and slide them around a little to coat each side.  Sprinkle each side with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Smother with homemade marinara sauce and top with grated mozzarella.
  5. This should have taken about 10 minutes and your water is now boiling :-)
  6. Toss pasta in to boil and slide chicken into the oven, uncovered.
  7. While chicken and pasta are cooking, this is a great time to make a side salad or veggie dish, warm up bread or make toast, and make up a quick desert (pudding, sliced fruit or toss a pan of brownies into the oven since it’s already at the right temp!)
  8. Pasta and chicken will be done roughly at the same time; pasta will need between 12-20 min and chicken will need between 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with a little butter and grated parmesan
  10. Plate everything up and enjoy!

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken and Fresh Basil

October 6, 2009
Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

I was out for a bike ride with my family this evening about 5:30 when we decided we wanted to go to the gym and then run some errands afterwards…I hadn’t planed anything for dinner yet, but no trouble!  We needed to leave within an hour, which meant I had exactly 30 minutes to get supper on the table.  Plenty of time! 

On the menu tonight…

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Baked Chicken and Fresh Basil, served with Salad and Parmesan Toast:  20 min

  1. Leftover baked chicken from Sunday dinner (always make double when cooking meat so you will have leftovers) – a couple minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to go.   Use whatever meat you have ready; pre-sliced and ready cooked ham and turkey are great to have on hand for just such occasions.  Warm a couple of slices per serving. 
  2. Pasta Roni Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli – cook on stove top according to package directions; ready in about 12-15 min from start to finish.
  3. Salad/Side– While pasta is cooking, prep your side dish – I threw together a quick salad of fresh spinach, feta cheese and grape tomatoes, drizzled with Greek Vinaigrette.  Use what you have on hand!  Any salad makings will do, or a pack of frozen brocoli florets or a can of  green beans thrown in the microwave with a little butter and seasoning. 
  4. Bread– if you happen to have frozen dinner rolls on hand, this would be perfect ( a friend turned me on to Sister Schubert’s and I love them!), otherwise use sandwich bread!  Brush sliced sandwich bread with a little olive oil or butter and toss in the toaster until golden; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and italian seasoning.
  5. Plate it all up and you are ready to go!  I happed to have fresh basil on hand, which is the perfect garnish for the chicken and really adds flavor to the dish.  It’s not a requirement though!  You could use crushed, dried herbs, thinly sliced sweet pepper, or just leave the chicken “naked”. 

This took me 20 minutes from walking into the kitchen to plated dinner ready to eat on the table, and almost no clean up in the kitchen.  The Key:  leftovers and quick (boxed) sides!