Yesterday morning, when I told Avo of my plans to cook a family dinner, he tried to dissuade me. "Don't stress yourself out."
No, he's not sick of my cooking yet. He was just being realistic. He knew I would be busy packing and getting ready for a two week trip with the kids at my parent's house in Hilton Head. Two weeks without him -- the longest we've been away from each other in the 11 years we've been together.
But I was determined to cook one last meal before we left. Maybe I just wanted to leave some leftovers behind for him to remember me by.
For whatever reason, I was determined to cook the Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Basil Sauce that I saw on the Kraft site.
The other day when I had to cut chicken up for Chicken with Lemon Garlic Sauce, I ended up using cooking shears, which Avo thought was pretty funny ("it's not a bad idea, actually, but I never would have thought to do it"). Today I had an even better idea for cutting the boneless skinless chicken breasts into strips -- I asked the butcher to do it for me!
I guess I'm gaining confidence as a cook because I strayed from the recipe and skipped the walnuts (in the past, I wouldn't have dared making such a bold move!). The pricey gourmet shop I stopped at for some last-minute ingredients was charging an outrageous $5.00 for a small container of walnuts. And, truth be told, as much as I love walnuts, they don't seem essential for this dish.
It all went amazingly smoothly. It was fun using the blender to create a basil sauce. And for the first time, I didn't overcook the chicken! Adding fresh grated parmesan was a perfect finishing touch.
"If you got this at a restaurant, you wouldn't say 'this is really gross,'" I said to Avo.
"No, I wouldn't send it back."
Now that's a rave!