Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lemon Chicken Bake

This week I bought a bag of lemons and had most of a leftover tub of ricotta, so this Lemon Chicken Bake is what I came up with. It's good. My five year old ate three helpings and so did the hubs, who usually is not a fan of cream-based pasta dishes. I, on the other hand, live for them. Yum.

Lemon Chicken Bake

1/3 pound small pasta, like mini bowties or mini penne
3 chicken breast halves, pounded to ½ inch for faster cooking
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup onion, diced
2 lemons
1 c. chicken broth
2 t. Italian seasoning
2 T. flour
½ cup half-n-half or heavy cream
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for sprinkling
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ c. ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray.
Cook pasta in salted water according to directions on package, al dente.
Meanwhile, heat butter in medium-high skillet. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Sautee until browned and just cooked through. Remove from pan, set aside, covered.
Add garlic and onion to pan and stir. Add chicken broth and scrape up browned bits. Squeeze the juice one whole lemon into pan, add Italian seasoning and cook 5 minutes.
Whisk in flour and half-n-half and cook one minute, stirring constantly.
Add parmesan, stir until melted.
Coarsely chop chicken and place in a large bowl with spinach, tomatoes, ricotta cheese and hot pasta.
Pour sauce over chicken mixture and stir gently. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Squeeze one lemon over entire casserole.
Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chocolate de Mayo

The kids and I made Mexican chocolate covered strawberries today in honor of Cinco de Mayo so they have decided to rename the day "Chocolate de Mayo." Loosely translated, this means "Mommy, come quick! I have chocolate all over my sweater!"

We mixed a bag of ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, melted the mixture in a double boiler and dipped strawberries in it. Oh my, yum with a kick. I bet they would taste great with an icy cold margarita.

Look! Charlie is eating a strawberry! It's a Cinco de Mayo miracle!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Greece-y Spoon

"For my birthday I want a pinata fulled up with that bread so I can eat it all." - Charlie

The children watched a short documentary as I made dinner, which was pretty much the extent of our study on Greece today. We talked a bit about it, pointed it out on the globe, listened to a little bit of music. The first part of the day was lost in the excitement of a Dollar Tree run to get rewards for sticking with my nighttime-stay-dry-plan, which is going well in the sense that the kids are happily complying with it. One kid is having real success and we are quite excited about that. The other one is going to take a lot of patience, determination and prayer.

Dinner was spanikopita, souvlaki, tzatziki sauce, Greek salad, pita and Portokalia me Meli (oranges drizzled with honey) for dessert. The kids enjoyed making the pita dough and watching me fumble around with getting the spanikopita to look like actual triangles. The meal was delicious and I thought the chicken souvlaki tasted just like the one they serve at the local Greek place we used to frequent before we had children. Miriam stuffed her face with chicken and pita so much that after she ate, she walked away from the table and fell into a heap on the floor saying, "ooooo, my tummy huuurrrts." A far cry from "What is this? It's disgusting. I'm not eating it." We will all look forward to having a Greek night again . . . the food is so scrumptious and nourishing as well.

Links to recipes:


Pita Bread:

Greek Salad Dressing:

Chicken Souvlaki (I only used the chicken marinade from this recipe.):

Tzatziki Sauce:

Portokalia me Meli:

Monday, May 2, 2011

China, Made in Virginia

"Chinese Food? Chinese Food? YOU want to talk to ME about Chinese Food?"
- Carol Seaver, Growing Pains

 Dessert: Homemade fortune cookies, ice cream cups (like at our favorite local Chinese buffet), orange slices and pocky sticks.
 Today's theme was China. The menu for dinner was Chicken-On-A-Stick that turned into just regular chicken when all my bamboo skewers torched and disintegrated on the grill, sesame-ginger-clementine-veggie stir-fry, shrimp egg rolls with duck sauce for dipping, homemade fortune cookies and vanilla ice cream cups for dessert. We may never go out for Chinese again.
I had extra egg roll filling left over, so I ate it for lunch. Then I had to have another bowl. I will be tooting around the house for the rest of the week, if you get my drift.
Miriam thought the filling was pretty great too. (Charlie decided to wait for dinner. Well, what he actually said was, "That is food for Chinese people and I am not a Chinese person." He didn't eat a thing at dinner, just licked his chicken a couple of times and called it a day.)

Here's a list of a few things we did today to, as my children put it, "celebrate China."
....googled "Baby Panda" and oooh-ed and aaaahhh-ed at the adorable little beasts a story book about a Chinese girl who lost her hen- "Daisy Comes Home" by Jan Brett
....tuned into Pandora for some traditional Chinese music...watched Kung Fu Panda in the afternoon
...watched one episode of "Wild China" on Netflix after dinner. They were mesmerized by the scenery and cool animals as well as thrilled to stay up until 9:30. took their butterfly nets and stripped the plastic, showing the bamboo so it would be more "Chinese"
....hung paper lanterns on the light above the dining room table
....found China on the globe
....talked about what kind of animals people eat in China and pretended to catch fish with our nets
...made homemade eggs rolls and fortune cookies and laughed about what fortunes we would like to receive in our cookies
....shared our meal with friends...if you would like to eat with us on a "country theme night" sometime, just say the word. Next up is Greece.

Links to recipes:
Egg Rolls (I substituted shrimp for the turkey and stirred in some sesame oil after cooking the filling):
Fortune Cookies: