Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Herbed Chicken and Spinach with Parmesan Cream Sauce

So, it's been awhile!  The purpose of this post though is two-fold.  First, I haven't posted in awhile and thought it was time to pick it up again.  Also, I've decided to enter a contest with Food Network- the Away From Home Cooking contest.  It's a chance to win $5000 dollars and go to NYC for the the Wine and Food Festival and meet Sunny Anderson.  It's a long shot to actually win, but my friend Allie got me thinking about entering a contest.  The only issue with the contest was that it had to be an original recipe.  Well, I'm not sure what's considered "original".  Most of my recipes are adaptations of other recipes I've seen...I'm assuming that makes it "original", but not positive.  So, I decided to try and make one of my own.  That was harder than I thought it'd be!  I was also limited to only 10 ingredients or less and no use of the oven...stove only...yeesh!  Not to mention I actually had to have MEASUREMENTS of things (so not my usual!).  So, challenge accepted and this is what I came up with: a cheesy, creamy herbed chicken and spinach pasta.  It was quite delicious too!  Although, it's not my favorite recipe I've cooked, but still delicious nonetheless.  Once I submitted the recipe I discovered I can submit a recipe DAILY until July 7.  So, looks like I'll be doing some more cooking and submitting!  I have to submit pictures- so there'll actually be pictures to post on here!  I've got a long list of ideas.  I don't really think one of my recipes will be chosen (I'm sure there will be thousands of entries that are probably better than whatever I submit), but I'm going to give it a try.  I would LOVE to meet Sunny AND go to the Wine and Food Festival in NEW YORK CITY in September (not to mention the $5000!)!  It's a LONG process to get to that point though- there are 5 phases!  First I actually have to get picked amongst the thousands of entries.  Then, judges will pick the top 50 finalists.  Then, there will be an online vote by the public and 2 top-voted winners will be chosen as well as another 2 that have the top scores from the judges votes.  Those top 4 will then compete in New York City and Sunny Anderson will be one of the judges to determine the final winner.  SO, there are LOTS of hoops to jump through, and I'm not even sure I can get through the first phase!  BUT, I'd really love to!  I think I have the potential, but it's just a matter of capturing my abilities.  Here's to hoping I get picked!

Herbed Chicken and Spinach with Parmesan Cream Sauce
Serves: 4

For the Chicken:
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 3/4 box of 13.25 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1- 9 oz bag of spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (use your own grater- it makes a difference!)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 teaspoon for pasta water)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus 1 Tablespoon for pasta water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
For the sauce:
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half (I used half and half because that's what I had on hand!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring medium pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of EVOO added to water.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.  When finished cooking, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water and drain pasta.  Do NOT rinse with cold water!  Add pasta back to the pot and stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and pasta water (just until moist, you may not need all of the water).
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tbl of EVOO in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and add chicken.  Season with 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and herbs de provence.  Stir well to coat chicken with seasonings.  Cook chicken until browned on all sides.
  3. Add spinach to same pan as the chicken and cook until spinach is fully wilted.  Drain 1/2 of the water that will have accumulated in the pan.  Add 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, pepper, and herbs de provence and mix well.  Finish cooking until the remaining water has evaporated from pan.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. For the sauce, heat cream (or half and half), salt, and EVOO in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer and stir frequently with a flat whisk (or a spoon if you don't have one) for about 4 minutes (it should be thick enough to coat a spoon).  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  Stir sauce into the chicken and spinach mixture.
  5. To serve, place pasta in a bowl or plate and top with chicken mixture.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top of each bowl or plate.  Enjoy!

Bon Appetit,

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