Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In The Kitchen With Chris: Chicken & Asparagus Penne

I've done two of these "In the Kitchen With Chris" posts now, and as I was thinking of doing another one, it occurred to me that neither meal I prepared previously can really be considered all that healthy. I mean the first one had Doritos in it for crying out loud. It kind of negates the whole reason that I wanted to start cooking more meals myself to begin with. So this week I decided to try cooking something a little healthier (and maybe even get a vegetable in there).

I chose a recipe for Chicken & Asparagus Penne that I'd been eyeing on Pinterest for awhile. I love chicken, I love asparagus, and I love penne (and any other carb, really).

A few nights before I planned cooking I got into a discussion about it out at the bar. I'd gone out for drinks with a gentleman caller (who shall not be asked to call on me again), went to a friend's to share a few bottles of wine, and then ended up meeting people out at the bar for a few drinks (and a few shots). I'd let the night get away from me a bit, clearly. At about 1:30 in the morning I learned that I am completely willing to allow a conversation about cutting out pasta from my diet become heated (I hate ate cheesy potato wedges from Buffalo Wild Wings right afterward out of spite).

Their advice was solid, but I refuse to deprive myself of delicious things. I've seen people on super strict diets. People who have to figure points before they can eat (I will never go on a diet plan that involves long division). People who have cut out so much from their diets that picking a restaurant that serves what they can eat becomes a chore. It seems miserable. I mean, if it works for you, that's fantastic. I just don't have the will power to give up something I love without binging on it a week later. It's gotta be all about portion control for me.

If only I cared enough to learn what the right portions are.

The next day, my friend Julie and her almost unbelievably adorable son James were in town. I'd spent the entire day watching Orange is the New Black on my new Netflix account (Oh. Em. Gee. you guys, so good). While on the way to buy wine and an obscene amount of Chinese food (because I'd be eating healthy the next day), Julie called and asked if she could cook dinner for me at my place for me.

She wanted to make me a salad.

I'm usually really good thinking my feet, but after an entire day spent in my dimly lit apartment without any human contact, my typically savvy social skills weren't so sharp. We already had plans for the night, so I couldn't very well feign that I was too busy to eat salad. I tried talking up the Chinese food, but her mind seemed set. I briefly considered faking a car accident and subsequent hospital stay. I mean, bonus, the outpouring of support I'd receive from Facebook would no doubt cause my Klout score to skyrocket, but is being the kind of person who would fake a horrible tragedy to get attention (and get out of eating salad) really worth it?


I relented, mostly because I still felt a little guilty about the cheesy potato wedges the night before, and she met me at the grocery store for supplies. The evening ended up turning into a great learning experience for me. The salad she was preparing for me was spinach, apples, pears, chicken, and cashews with a honey mustard dressing. She taught me how to pick out a pear (the fresh food section causes me quite a bit of anxiety), we went over what seasonings a grown up should have in their cupboard (I had no clue that seasoning salt was a thing), and I ended up leaving the store kind of excited about this salad adventure!

Julie showed me how to season chicken and prepare it in a skillet (I'm pretty positive that's what the pan that she used is called). She had all kinds of fantastic tips for me, and even brought me a "One Pot Cookbook" (since starting this blog, my friends have doubled the number of cookbooks I own). The salad was amazing. I mean amazing! Totally something I could see myself eating regularly, and so much more filling than any salad I've ever made (dumped out of a bag). 

I had planned on taking photos to document the whole thing, but I was entertaining James while Julie cooked, but I was too busy dodging some rather aggressive blows to the head from the mixing spoon he was playing with.

On Sunday, with my new knowledge of preparing chicken, I was feeling more than confident about my abilities and got started cooking. The recipe was fairly simple, calling for: 

1lb of Chicken, Cooked and Cubed
1 Box of Penne pasta
2 Bags of Birdseye Steamfresh Asparagus Spears
Parsley Flakes 
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan 

After my guilt trip at the bar, I went with the Smart Taste pasta, because whole wheat sounded positively awful, and this had "Smart" in the name so... 

I wasn't super sure how many chicken tenderloins made a pound so I just guessed that a bunch of them would be fine. I got the pasta boiling, cubed (well cubed-ish) and cooked up the chicken (seasoned to perfection), microwaved the asparagus, and preheated the broiler. Full disclosure, I had to Google what the broiler was. I was always pretty positive it was that little drawer under the oven, but turns out it's in the inside too.

So the mystery of the little drawer remains.

Once all that business is cooked you basically just throw it all in a 9" x 12" pan. Asparagus and pasta first, drizzle on the olive oil, add the chicken and sprinkle some parsley on. Mix it up and sprinkle the cheese on top and throw it under the broiler for about 5 minutes.

If you're looking for a bit of expert advice (what I learned by burning the shit out of my hand), use a real oven mitt and not just your dishtowel, that broiler isn't f#%!ing around. I apologize for the blurry picture of the finished product, but I was focusing more on creative profanities to yell at the top of my lungs and less on focusing the camera.

You can view the recipe here. Or if you're interested in following me on Pinterest you can view my entire food board here. It turned out beautifully, and it was super delicious! The asparagus was kind of mushy, fresh probably would have been better (I'm gonna need someone to come teach me how to steam veggies, kthnx). I was pretty sure I'd read somewhere that this was a healthy meal too, but I definitely can't find where I saw that now (my imagination probably?). It's supposed to serve 6 with about 383 calories a serving, but I'm a bit of a pig, I guess, and got it split up into five servings. That's still not terrible though, right? 


I didn't move the rest of the night.

It'd probably be like super good with Cool Ranch Doritos crunched up on top.


  1. I'm so proud. :) And fyi, that looks f#%!ing delicious! You're cooking next time! (and steaming veggies is easiest in the microwave...put them in a microwave safe bowl with an inch of water in the bottom. 15 min for hard veggies like cauliflower or carrots, 5 min for soft veggies like zucchini)

  2. Vegetable steamers.are reasonably priced and as for the whole wheat pasta, I like it and I do NOT ef around with pasta. I have a recipe for a lowfat pesto that is soooooo much better than anything...ever.

    1. Lowfat Pesta Recipe?! Tell me more, tell me more!