I walked into the bathroom to find the drain in our sink completely filled with little grape tomatoes. I think I pulled out NINE with the help of the handle of a skinny spoon. Good thing they were too big to get too far down into the pipe. [How on earth does she get these ideas?!]
I carried two kids up three long flights of stairs in the effort to get to a holiday show that our best friends' kids school put on. I mean, it was pretty cute to see all those baby faces tooting on their recorders and showing off their dance moves. I kept thinking about how in a few short years it might be my kids up there wearing Christmas trees on their heads or sporting reindeer antlers while wearing ballet shoes. Classic. Can't wait. (Or can I?)
Came home to find that my husband's day did not go at all to plan and is buried (still) under a mountain of work. He has been working around the clock since Sunday and hasn't slept in days. :-( (BOOooo to Ad agencies! They have NO holiday spirit whatsoever.)
So I decided to make something really great for dinner. Like actually cook a real meal for once.
Don't get me wrong, I like to cook, and make almost everything from scratch. But since Lyla came into the family, I have had a hard time enjoying the whole food preparation project. I figured it out tonight when I was preparing a 30 minute express meal and instead of taking the allotted 30 minutes, it took an hour and a half. I don't think Rachel Ray includes caring for two kids at the same time into those 30 minutes at all. Which makes sense. I realized that the reason I don't enjoy cooking anymore is because I am constantly interrupted. And a 30 minute meal takes 90 to prepare. Which is why we have a lot of green smoothies and eat a lot of rice and beans around here. Quick, easy, nutritious. And there are less tears and nobody is bleeding (most of the time).
But I digress.
Tonight I prepared a real meal. A follow-a-recipe-and-commit-to-it meal. And despite how long it took to finally get it all together, (keep in mind I was getting the kids ready for bed, cleaning the house, preparing a bottle, holding a tired and fussy baby, putting Lexi in time-outs and trying to cook all at the same time...why??!) it was F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C. So great that I have to share. Even Eric told me to make it again (that's kind of a big deal around here)! And I promise, it doesn't have to take 90 minutes. Just maybe prepare it while the kids are napping. ;) Because for the explosion of flavor and nutrition you get with this simple one dish meal, it's so worth it! And if you've never had arugula before, you are in for a treat.
I will even give you some mouth-watering, low quality phone pictures to whet your appetite! I know. I'm that awesome.
[Yes, that's a Fiesta plate. Be jealous. I love them.]
[Like my salad scoops? They are moose heads!]
Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad
from: Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals
4 (very large) servings - great for leftovers!
1/2 lb short-cut pasta
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. grill seasonings, such as McCormicks Montreal Steak Seasoning, 2 palmfuls
2 t. hot sauce
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
5 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO (Extra virgen olive oil)
2 large onions, sliced 1-inch thick
6 thin-cut chicken breast cutlets
2 T. dijion mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano
2 bunches arugula, thoroughly washed and chopped
1 small head radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped (wasn't at my grocery store, so I did without it)
2 cups fresh basil, 20 leaves, coarsely chopped (I didn't have fresh and used dried - still good! Although if you have the option to use fresh, DO! It's delicious!)
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, a generous handful, chopped
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced (I don't like celery, so it didn't make it into mine)
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, left whole in small, cut in half if large
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high heat.
Bring a large pot of water with a tight fitting lid to boil over high heat. Once the water boils, add some salt and the pasta, and cooking according to package directions until al dente.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, grill seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and 2 T. of the vinegar. Whisk in 1/4 cup of EVOO. Divide the mixture between two shallow bowls. Add the sliced onions to one and the chicken cutlets to the other. Toss to coat both thoroughly and marinate a few minutes.
In a salad bowl, combine the mustard and the remaining 3 T. of vinegar with a little salt and pepper. In a slow steady stream, whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of EVOO then add the grated cheese. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it thoroughly and add it to the salad bowl with the dressing; toss to coat. Since you are adding the pasta while it is still hot, the dressing will really soak into the pasta.
Grill the onion slices, cooking them on each side until well marked, about 2 to 3 minutes. Grill the chicken cutlets for 3 to 4 mins on each side. Remove the onions and the chicken from the grill to a cutting board to rest and cool for about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop the grilled onions and cut the chicken into thin strips. Add them to the dressed pasta. Add the arugula, radicchio, basil, parsley, celery, mozzarella and grape tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss thoroughly.