At my house, Monday is one of the following:
- I-went-shopping-yesterday-and-have-fresh-produce-to-use-before-it-goes-bad day
- I-am-rested-after-the-weekend-and-full-of-culinary-energy-and-creativity day
- I-worked-my-butt-off-all-weekend-and-am-exhausted day
This week, number three is the best fit. Also, I had some cream cheese to use up in the fridge, leftover from making Armadillo eggs. I was a bit apprehensive to the reception I was expecting from my elder daughter. She, like most children, find mushrooms to be strange and scary things. Heck, I find them borderline freaky. They are fungi, people. But, being an adult, I have learned to stop thinking about it and just eat them. My husband, on the other hand, is a mushroom-junkie. In addition to the fungal aspect, the big girl has recently decided that she doesn't like warm bell peppers. She has always eaten them and liked them up until now. Despite knowing that this was a recipe for disaster, I went ahead.
Making dinner with a crying toddler clinging to your legs is challenging. But we managed it. Between trying to figure out what the child wanted (which seemed to be the liver paste box, a.k.a. leverpastej, and a knife - God forbid we try to put it on some bread) and sauté the chicken, mushrooms, onions, and the rest, the pasta pot boiling over, and my husband adding the cream before all the veggies were in, we somehow made a meal. I have no idea how we do it every day.
Just as it was simmering away and ready to bring to the table, a different disaster than the one I was anticipating struck. The big girl was accompanying her friend down the road home, and fell on her bike, and was wheeled home in tears by her friend's mom. She had scrapes all over her arms, shoulder, chest, and chin. Her bike helmet did its job and was a bit mangled, but better that than her head. The toddler decided she was going to help me clean wounds and put bandaids on instead of sitting down to dinner, and was fighting all efforts by her father to put her in her highchair. She ended up sitting behind the dinner table, squatting, and eating her dinner with a bowl and spoon on the floor. Whatever. At least she ate. The big girl was too distraught to even comment on dinner, and just ate it with no complaints. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Not even a whine. It made me wonder if some head trauma or at least a mild concussion was involved. The toddler ate hers up quickly, and spent the rest of dinner poking at a pasta wheel and shuddering, like it was the creepiest thing ever.
Bike-crash chicken with pasta
2 chicken breasts, sliced in strips
1 T butter or oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
About 8 mushrooms, sliced
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 c. half and half or cream
1 small tub of cream cheese
3 T fresh herbs, minced (I used basil and rosemary)
Dried chili flakes
Salt and pepper
Brown the chicken in the butter. Transfer to a dish when cooked through. Sauté onion and mushrooms until almost soft, without browning. Add bell peppers and garlic, sauté a few more minutes. Add cream and cream cheese, heat while stirring until combined. Add herbs, chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile you will have been boiling water, cooking pasta, trying to set the table, and probably arguing with at least one hungry kid.
Serves 4 if they choose to eat it, 2.5 plus lunches for the next day if they don't. (But really, both kids love the flavor, as soon as they are done examining the contents.)