Friday, March 16, 2012

Pinterest Dinner Week, Day 5

Journey's birthday weekend threw us off of our Pinterest meals for dinner, but don't worry, we're still doing it!

The other day I made Tuscan Garlic Chicken from a blog called Mel's Kitchen Cafe. It is supposed to be a copycat Olive Garden recipe. I followed the recipe as close as possible, the only substitutions were green and yellow bell pepper in place of red, and evaporated milk instead of heavy cream, which is a tip I learned awhile back. You get the thickness and creaminess with the evaporated milk, but it is canned so you don't have to worry about expiration dates like you would with heavy cream. I think I also shredded some carrots in there, I've been doing that a lot lately.

The whole dish was good, but specifically the chicken was delicious! I would follow this recipe for the chicken for other dishes, it was tender and juicy and had a great flavor. The sauce was good, but, as I suspected for an Olive Garden copycat recipe, pretty heavy with all the cream, milk, and parmesan cheese. We were stuffed after just one plateful. Eric and I liked it a lot, and the kids did too, after I showed them that there was parmesan cheese (they call it shake cheese) in the sauce.

Overall, I would make it again, although next time I think I'll try to cram more veggies into the sauce. I'm thinking zucchini, tomatoes, and more spinach and bell peppers would be good.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup lowfat milk
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound fettuccine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a shallow pie plate or similar dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through (they’ll finish up in the oven). Don’t scoot the chicken around once you lay it in the hot oil! Let the oil work it’s magic to sear the crust on the chicken. If you get all antsy and try flipping too early and/or moving the chicken around the pan, the breading is lightly to fall off. Gently remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.
While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente. Also, wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in one tablespoon flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: adapted from More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes

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