Variety is the spice of Life! Especially in the kitchen and the meals we prepare. When our kids were still at home we tried to make sure we experienced a variety of dishes. I will be the first to admit, we raised a bunch of fussy eaters, which made selecting recipes a challenge, but as time went on we found we were able to modify various recipes to fit our specific tastes.
Even though Roger and I both worked, we didn’t have much extra cash to use for family vacations, so cooking a variety of dishes gave us an opportunity to expand our gastric horizons and add a few cooking skills to our repertoire.
The thing I am most grateful for is the bond we created by having a sit-down, home-cooked family meal more nights than not. It does get to be more challenging for the family to get together to have a meal as the kids get older and more involved in various activities, but it is a foundation upon which our family was built; our grown children have shared their memories of family dinners and how important they became. They certainly didn’t realize it at the time, but it certainly developed a bond that with stay with all of us. I could go on and on about the benefits of family dinners, but I’ll save that for another blog.
One recipe I came across appealed to me because it was low in fat, and could be easily adapted to include vegetables my family would eat. It turns out Lemon Chicken with Bow-Tie Pasta has withstood the test of time as a family favorite. It even made it into our family cookbook I put together for our children. I cleverly called it Kalata Kookery. My oldest son, a writer, hates the alliteration, but I love the whimsy of it.
Recently we hosted a foreign exchange student, Mrunmayi. She is from India and stayed with us for 3 months. She would not eat beef or pork because of religious reasons, and was, for the most part, a vegetarian. It turns out she doesn’t care for our “American vegetables”, so as you can imagine, cooking for her became quite a challenge. Roger & I were willing to eat more chicken and save the beef and pork dinners for when she wasn’t home for dinner with us. So, I pulled out this recipe and made it for dinner one night. Fortunately, she loved it, and even asked me to make it again a few weeks later.
As it turns out lemons are quite healthy for us, they help restore the body’s natural ph balance, they are rich in vitamin C, improve liver function, improve regularity, have anti-bacterial properties, just to name a few. And, am I the only one who thinks lemons taste like summer?
I use lemons throughout the year, and I don’t take the time to make homemade lemonade in the summer, so why do lemons taste like summer? Mostly, I think, because they are so refreshing and cleanse your palate. Plus, they smell wonderful, delicious, and citrusy (if that is a word?)
Lemon Chicken with Bow-Tie Pasta is very easy to prepare, I’m sure your family will love it as much as mine does.
6 oz uncooked Bow-Tie Pasta 1 medium green pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces 1 cup fat free chicken broth
4 tsp cornstarch 2 tsp sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp grated lemon peel Juice of 1 lemon
Cook pasta to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain, cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine broth, cornstarch and sugar; blend well. Set aside.
Cut chicken breasts into thin, bite-size pieces. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until it is lightly browned and no longer pink. Tip: You can save time if you have some chicken left over from another dinner, or a rotisserie chicken.
Add cornstarch mixture to skillet; cook and stir just until mixture begins to thicken. Squeeze fresh lemon into this mixture and stir. Add cooked pasta. Heat through. Stir in green and yellow peppers, garnish with grated lemon peel. Hint: Use what ever fresh vegetables your family will eat. If you like your vegetables cooked, sauté them for 2-3 minutes before adding the cornstarch mixture to the skillet.
Makes Four 1-1/2 cup servings
While you won’t ever find Lemon Chicken with Bow-Tie Pasta on the menu at Pleasant View Bed & Breakfast, I hope I have inspired you to expand your culinary skills and to sit down at the kitchen table with your family to create some memories that will last a lifetime. For, it is at the dining table that many relationships are built and forged.