Friday, April 15, 2011

Italian Chicken with Herb Bread

Italian Chicken with Herb Bread

Yesterday I decided to start dinner around 2 in the afternoon which meant I had to start cooking our dinner on high in the crock pot in order for dinner to be ready by 6:30.  I didn't know what I was going to end up making when I started, but by the end I was happy with the result!  One idea become another and so on- I think that is my favorite part of being in the kitchen, creating something out of nothing and letting your creative juices flow.

I decided I would start with chicken, so I placed 2 frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot and I poured an Italian dressing over the top, just enough to cover the chicken completely, creating a marinade for it.  This particular dressing had the typical ingredients of an Italian dressing with the romano cheeses, garlic powder,  paprika and spices.  I topped the chicken breasts with some basil, oregano and 2 tbsp of minced garlic and let it cook on high.

I was in the mood for fresh baked bread too.  Having the windows open throughout the house and feeling the breeze was awesome- just the slightest feeling of coolness in the air keeps me cooking!  Its also a great perk when ovens and crock pots create a lot of heat in the house.

I love herb bread- especially when it is homemade.  To get started, I melted some butter in a saucepan and caramelized 1/2 c of chopped onions.  I used my bread machine, but as usual if you don't have one you can do the steps yourself ... combine ingredients, knead, let it rise and then bake.  With my bread maker, all my steps are done for me after I combine my ingredients.

The ingredients I added to my bread machine were 1 c milk, 3 c flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp dill, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp rosemary and 1 1/2 tsp yeast.  At the very end I poured my caramelized onions on top.  I choose a 1 1/2 pound bread loaf with a light crust and in 3 hours my bread was done.

I absolutely love the end piece of the bread so I went ahead and taste tested the bread, oh man was it yummy!  When it is fresh and warm I could make the loaf of bread my meal and be completely happy- in fact Jeremy and I actually contemplated the idea last night!

After about 4 hours of letting the chicken cook in the marinade, I decided that I didn't just want chicken with our bread, I wanted to make it into a pasta dish.  Can you tell I like carbs?!  To do that, I needed to thicken the marinade and add to it.  I added about 1/2 c of fat free half and half to add a creaminess and then a can of tomato sauce.  To create a bit more texture in our sauce, I added 1/2 c of chopped tomatoes and seasoned the sauce with garlic, pepper and a few dashes of parmesan.  PERFECT!  

Now that the chicken was simmering in our sauce I added our noodles to the sauce.  Since the crock pot had been cooking for over 4 hours now, it was hot enough to cover with the noodles and the sauce's heat would create a boiling effect for the noodles to cook in as well.  Once the noodles were the texture desired- I prefer al dente, it is ready.

Within 15 minutes the dish was what I was hoping to create.  I sliced our bread, plated our food and enjoyed our dinner!

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