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August 16, 2009

Chicken and Basil Pesto

We have a new game at our house. It is called Melissa Is Learning How To Cook In Case (God Forbid) She Ever Is Forced To Feed Herself. It works like this. On Fridays, until Melissa finds a job, she will attempt to cook something she has never made before. The rules are that Dan and Melissa have to eat it no matter what and not complain, but at the end of the meal Dan can ask that I never make that dish again and there will be no hard feelings. The rules also state that this in no way will force Melissa to have to start to make dinner on a regular basis, and Melissa can suspend the game at any time without penalty.

Okay, enough talking in the third person.

This week I tackled a Mixed Basil Pesto recipe that I have had stared in my google reader that I found over on Playing House a couple weeks ago. The recipe looked relatively easy, it was definitely something I have never made before, and I am dying to use my mixer at every given chance. Win, win, win.

Here is the Recipe:

(Inspired from Playing House, adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves (Melissa's Note: Basil is freaking expensive. Remind me to plant a basil garden and sell it by the side of the road. I could be a millionaire.), big stems discarded, rinsed, and dried (I bought three packages, which was definitely too much- but I used them all because they were so expensive and how the heck else would I use basil?)
Salt to taste (I think I put in like a tablespoon)
1 clove garlic, crushed (I was too lazy, so I just used some garlic seasoning and I think it was fine)
2 tbsp. walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet (I used pine nuts and they tasted GREAT but next time I will double this to 4 tbsp. because I think it will add a little something.)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine basil, salt, garlic, nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. (Nobody warned me how unappetizing this would look. Please see picture above if you don't believe me. Also, I just used the liquefy option on my mixer)

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually (I put in way too much, like the entire thing because I though I made too much pasta. Next time I will dial back on the EVOO). Store in the refrigerator for a week or two, or in the freezer for several months.

And VOILA! Dinner!

It wasn't too bad, and at the end Dan said I could definitely make it again! WIN!

Does anybody else have any good receipes (EASY!) that I can try for this Friday's dinner?


Michelle said...

Hi Melissa! I read your blog every morning-- I love it! I make this really easy dish that I think you guys would like, and the fun part is you don't need an exact recipe, you can have fun with it. It's the go-to dish when I'm cooking for any of the men in my life.

You'll need:
A box of ziti
A can of stewed tomatoes
4 chicken breast's worth of chicken (I use those pre-cooked chicken strips made to put on salads...they're so easy!)
Olive oil
Peppers (green)
American cheese from the deli, 6-8 slices

So, you get a pan and put the olive oil in it till it's hot, and add the peppers, onions and mushrooms. Then add the rosemary, oregano, garlic (sometimes getting that "italian spices" mix is really good in addition) and when that's all mixed together add in your chicken (this is easy since it's pre-cooked, you just have to warm it). You should try to coat your chicken with all the spices.

Meanwhile, the ziti should be boiling in the pot.

When your ziti is just about ready, add your stewed tomatoes to the chicken concoction to create a sauce. You can also add in some italian dressing if the tomatoes don't make enough of a sauce. You'll want to drain the tomatoes a bit first so it's not too watery--you want it thick.

Drain the ziti and put it back in the pot. Dump everything from the pan into the pot and mix the chicken and pasta together. Then, this is the weird part but I'm telling you, it makes the whole thing--start laying slices of American cheese over the top and folding the mixture over them so they melt and start holding everything together. You'd think you'd want to use mozzarella or something but the American cheese makes the whole dish--it makes this creamy cheesy pasta sauce with the tomatoes!

For an extra bonus, you can pour some olive oil into a bowl, add some leftover rosemary and crush it with a spoon, add some parmesan cheese and get a hot loaf of italian bread to dip in it. Delicious.

If you end up making it I'd love to hear if you liked it!


Melissa said...

Michelle! Thank you so much, this looks awesome and totally something I can handle. I am definitely trying it this Friday!

Maureen said...

Melissa, just tonight we made red beans and rice, we just cooked some rice in one pot, poured two cans of kidney beans in another pot (cooking your own beans is for another day), cooked up some sausage links in a pan, and then in a fourth pan threw in some celery, green onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and a splash of cayenne. Then you just add the cooked rice, warmed beans, and slices of sausage all into the big pan where you had the veggies. You can add a little chicken broth (or water plus a chicken buillon cube which you can buy at the store) but you don't have to as long as the rice soaks up all the juices from the sausage, and a little of the bean juice. It sounds complicated because it involves four pans, but trust me, it's so easy. We just made it in half an hour and we have tons and tons of leftovers. I'm so proud of your new cooking endeavors!

Cait said...

just found this great link yesterday that might be of aid: :)


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