Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pasta 'N Chicken Marinara for #NellysBigDay

Saturday is a happy day in the food blogging world! My good friend Marnely Rodriguez is getting married on Martha's Vineyard to the love of her life Brian Murray.  'Nelly' is one of the friendliest and most helpful people you'll ever want to meet, and is a constant encouragement to me and many others in the 'foodie' community. In fact, she is the reason I finally took the plunge and began writing Cooke'd With Luv.
When I was contacted about participating in a 'Virtual Shower' for Nelly, and providing some marital advice and a recipe, it was a no brainer. Another one of Nelly's friends wrote a nice introduction to our shower, so I'll share it to provide a little background:

“And …I said YESSSSS!”
It happened one November midnight, in Twitterverse, we  saw this tweet from our dear Nelly @nella22. Without missing a beat, we all  knew Nelly had “said YES” to her beloved “M”,as she sweetly calls Brian  Murray, her fiancĂ©.
So here we are,Nelly dear, your friends in the food  world, wishing you and Brian,all the best. And with our wishes, a simple  recipe with an easy formula for a life of bliss, rich with EVERYTHING in it!
Mix together: A lot of Love, Patience, Perseverance,  Respect, Courage, Strength, Trust, Kindness, Honesty, Compromise & Great  Sex.
Stir in : Equal Parts of Love, Support, Faith, Fidelity,  Hope, Validation, Friendship, Forgiveness, Communication.
Cook over slow simmer for the rest of your life. Dot  daily with a Sense of Humor.
Leave out the nagging, sarcasm, skepticism, doubts and  stubbornness.
Serving Suggestions: Best prepared daily. Serve with  flourish because Married Life is a FEAST. Live it with flavor, spice it with  unconditional love, enjoy its richness.
Recipe Notes: Some ingredients won’t always be fresh or  available. Or the heat may flare up and the anger spills over. Simmer down  and douse the flames with all the LOVE you can throw in.
Enjoy the feast of marriage, love and life!
(Written by : Elizabeth @Mango_Queen)

So, here is my recipe in honor of Nelly & Brian.  Even though they both love to cook, I assumed they wouldn't be doing a lot of 'kitchen' cooking for a few days (unless they have comfortable counters), so I wanted to offer something that is easy to prepare, tasty, and offers lots of fuel for increased stamina.

Quick Pasta and Chicken Marinara

2 cans diced tomatoes (Use fresh if available & you have the time)
4-5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-5 cloves fresh garlic-minced
1 small onion-diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut up (feel free to substitute, shrimp, mussels, etc)
1 small box spaghetti (I like the tri-color veggie pasta)
Seasoning to taste (Fresh basil, lemon thyme, oregano, salt pepper, red pepper flakes, etc)
Fresh grated Parmesan

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Saute chicken, onion, mushrooms in 2 tbsp olive oil. Set aside.
Boil salted water for pasta and prepare pasta according to directions. Drain pasta 1-2 minutes before recommended cooking time is completed.
While water is coming to a boil and pasta is cooking, add garlic and remaining olive oil to a large skillet. Saute briefly, then add tomatoes and seasonings. Heat thoroughly, mashing up tomatoes with a fork if desired. (The idea is to create a bright, fresh flavor as opposed to a heavy, reduced sauce)
After draining, add pasta and chicken mix to sauce.
Toss all ingredients together making sure pasta is coated. Allow to cook briefly until pasta is Al Dente. Serve on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Top with Parmesan and fresh herbs and/or fresh lemon zest.

In closing, we're supposed to offer some marital advice to Nelly for the coming journey. I'm sure most women aren't interested in marriage advice from men, so I'll just offer a few from the male perspective :)

1. Give lots of back rubs.
2. Spend time together (preferably in the kitchen or in bed).
3. Go easy on the credit cards.
4. Don't let your belly stick out further than your boobs! (unless you're pregnant)

That should cause enough backlash, so I'll end now with a huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!  :-)

Special  thanks to Heather for the logo, Elizabeth  for the intro write up Junia for the spreadsheet, and Sanjeeta kk for hosting the shower.