Monday, February 16, 2015

Home Improvement

So my husband and I are doing some renovations to our house.  One major and a lot of minor projects are going on. The major project is installing hardwood flooring in our entryway, living room, and hallway.  This is a task neither one of us has done before, mind you, so it should be interesting. So we bought some bamboo flooring and have it sitting in stacks in our living room acclimating.  I knew this before, but acclimating hardwoods means you let it sit in the room it will be installed in and let it adjust to the humidity levels in your house for two weeks so it can swell or shrink or whatever it needs to do.  And let me tell you, 23 boxes weighing 67 pounds apiece is no easy task to move around.  You wake up stiff and sore the next day for sure.

Another project (among many) was replacing our kitchen sink.  Our old (and really ugly) sink was porcelain.  This by far was the worst task we had to undertake (I'll let you know if that changes after we install the floor).  Porcelain sinks are cast iron with porcelain molded into it, so they weigh a ton. My husband couldn't get to the screws to remove it, so we had to do plan B.  He pulled up the metal trim on the counter top side.  He and our son took a sledgehammer to parts of the sink to loosen it.  Then came the moment of truth.  The sink was free, but we had to drop it down and turn it before we could get it out of the hole.  I was in another room and didn't realize he was trying to pull the sink out.  I came in just about the moment he dropped it.  And guess what's under the sink...the plumbing.  

So, with another trip to the hardware store, my husband with several hours on his back, and all brand new plumbing underneath, we now have a new sink!  All this took place the day after my husband spent about 7 hours chipping tile in the entryway.  Poor man was tired!

So I decided to cook his favorite thing to eat...pasta!  I decided on a Chicken Marsala Pasta since we love mushrooms.  There are a few steps in this dish, but it's well worth the effort.  This pasta is full of mushrooms, chicken, pancetta, and cheese.  And it's scrumptious!  A great reward for a hard day's work!

1 lb pasta, any shape
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Garlic powder
Seasoned salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
11/4 lb pancetta, diced
1 C shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C heavy cream
1 C Marsala wine
1 C chicken stock
2 T flour
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
1 C shredded Mozzarella cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Season the chicken on both sides with some garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper.  Bake the chicken on a sheet pan for 16 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and cook an additional 14-20 minutes or until the chicken is done through.  Remove it from the oven and cover it with foil.

Meanwhile, drizzle a little olive oil into a large skillet.  Cook the pancetta over medium high heat until it's crispy.  Drain on a paper towel.  In the same skillet, add in the mushrooms and the shallots and cook until the mushrooms are tender, adding in additional olive oil if necessary.  Add in the Marsala wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook until most of the liquid has cooked out.  Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture and stir.  Whisk in the chicken stock and garlic.  Preheat the broiler.

After the chicken stock and flour mixture is smooth, add in the heavy cream.  Cook and stir until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Dice the chicken and stir the chicken, parsley, and the pasta together with the mushroom mixture.  Spread the pasta into a 9 x 13 casserole pan and sprinkle the Mozzarella all over the top.  Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

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