Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creamy Chicken Penne

Spring Break this year was awesome. I did nothing. Really. I even went to Kansas City to go bridesmaid dress shopping (no bride) and came back empty handed. My plan was to go into my classroom at least one day and clean up some residual lab equipment, but even that didn't happen.

I feel so refreshed.

So much so, that I am back on track with supper plans. I have a menu for the week, something I have not had for several months now. I have been so overwhelmed, that even sitting down to plan menus threw me into a high anxiety state.

Oddly, I had my grocery list made out yesterday when the new Taste of Home arrived. I changed today's supper plans based on an advertisement on page 24. And I wonder why I am so stressed.

Cook two cups of penne pasta according to directions. You know, boil water, add pasta. One thing I cannot figure out about recipes is the insistence on listing "2 cups penne pasta, uncooked" as an ingredient. Then the first step is to "cook pasta as directed on package." Why don't they just list cooked pasta as an ingredient? Anyone else ever wonder about that??


Anyway, while your pasta is cooking, cook the chicken and onions in some olive oil until the chicken is done.
Add in the snow peas, red pepper and garlic. You might notice that there is more going on here than just snow peas. My little grocery store did not have just a package of snow peas, but they had snow pea stir fry mix. Close enough. They were also out of red pepper, so I used green.
Cook this for a couple minutes and then turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it simmer.
In a saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter.
Add in one tablespoon flour. I did not have regular white flour, so I used whole wheat instead.
Slowly add in the milk and whisk away.
Bring this to a boil. If you just got the milk out of the fridge now, it will take a couple minutes.
BE VERY CAREFUL! Milk will suddenly erupt when you have stopped stirring and your back is turned. Simmer for two minutes.
Mix in 4 ounces (half package) cream cheese and half a cup of shredded Romano cheese. Again, I couldn't find Romano by itself, so I used an Italian blend.
Heat until it is all mixed and add to the pasta. My mixture had kind of a grainy texture to it, but I think it was because of the whole wheat flour. You might also notice that I did not use penne, but large macaroni. You might also have been under the impression that my grocery list actually made it to the grocery store.
Stir all this in with the chicken mixture.
Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
This was a perfect spring supper. The sauce is really light, much lighter than I thought it would be. Even with all my improvisations, it turned out wonderful. It took about thirty minutes to put together and I ended up using quite a few extra dishes, so it might take some practice to make it more doable for a weeknight supper, but overall, this comes highly recommended.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Creamy Chicken Penne
2 cups penne pasta, uncooked
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pkg. (6 oz.) snow peas
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 cups milk
4 oz. Cream Cheese, cubed
1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, cook chicken and onions in hot oil in large skillet for 6-8 min. or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, red peppers and garlic; cook and stir 1 min. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boil; cook on medium heat 2 min. or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese, grated cheese, salt and black pepper; cook 1-2 min. or until cream cheese is completely melted and sauce is well blended, stirring constantly.
Drain pasta; place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and sauce; toss to coat. Top with parsley. Yield: 4 servings, 1-1/2 cups each.

Special Extra: Add 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms halfway through cooking the chicken and onion.

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