Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Wow, that’s a really long name! Probably too long, but when thinking about this recipe it just didn’t feel right to leave any part out of the name. The chicken, vegetables, and roasted garlic sauce all work together to form one beautiful, filling, delicious pasta dish.

I knew that I wanted to make pasta for dinner and I knew what ingredients I had on hand, but I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So I went searching and what I found was very promising recipe on my friend Krystal’s blog (Krystal just had a baby, by the way!). I worked with what I had and used her recipe as guide, and what I thought was going to be a good dinner turned out to be a GREAT dinner! So much so that I’m putting it back on the menu for this week!

The first change I made was to use zucchini instead of broccoli (side note: why can I never spell either of those words right on the first try? mental spelling block) and penne instead of fettucine.  I also used milk instead of cream, but because I was worried that it wouldn’t thicken up enough, I added a tablespoon of corn starch. It worked perfectly and even held up and remained creamy for my next day lunch leftovers. Finally, I added mushrooms because it just seemed right.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce


1 head of garlic – roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much chicken per serving you want), roasted and sliced
12 oz. penne pasta
Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnishing

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose the tops of cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic, pinching the seams to seal. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cloves are tender and start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest, covered with aluminum foil, until you’re ready to serve, then cut into slices. (Roasting in the same oven as the garlic slightly infuses some of the garlic flavor into the chicken, mmm!)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook penne until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the milk and corn starch in a glass measuring cup, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the skillet. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the garlic and mix into the vegetables.

Create a well in the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the edges, slowly stream in the milk/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Work the vegetables into the sauce with the whisk then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved cooking liquid a tablespoon at time until you get the desired consistency.

Top each portion with the sliced chicken, extra Parmesan, and fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from Mrs.Regueiro’s Plate

Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

Years back I wasn’t a big fan of pork. It always seemed chewy and tough and flavorless to me. Then my mom tried a new recipe for pork tenderloin and it opened my mind to world of pork. Now I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of my favorite meats to prepare and eat at home. Just as versatile as chicken and when it’s prepared correctly, and not overcooked, the result is tender and juicy, the perfect vehicle for a huge variety of flavors.

I think you already know about my love of Pulled Pork, and this Island Pork Tenderloin really knocked my socks off. Now I can add this Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin to my list of pork loves.

Knowing that I was going to be making the Lemon Garlic Potatoes for a side dish, I added just a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the crust. Not only did it add a nice flavor to the pork, but it also gave the crust a beautiful golden brown color. The inside of the pork was juicy and even though the crust was on the outside, the herb and garlic flavor was infused into the pork. Really a simple dish you could throw together for company. Or if you’re in the position I was in, pack while it’s cooking, plate and photograph, then eat on the floor surrounded by half full boxes. Whatever fits your needs. 🙂

Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 Tbsp kosher salt (scant 1/2 tsp if using table salt)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2-3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried thyme)
2 tsp chopped fresh basil leaves (1 tsp dried basil)
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (1 tsp dried rosemary)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Place the pork in the bottom of a roasting pan. In a small bowl combine the salt, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme, basil, and rosemary to form a thick paste. Spread the mixture over the entire surface of the pork, massaging it into the meat with your fingers.

Roast for 25 minutes at 475 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 375 and roast for 45-60 minutes, using a meat thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. *Once the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees (Fahrenheit), remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.

*When it comes to cooking meat it’s always best to go off of temperature. 30 minutes into the second roasting start checking the temperature every 5-10 minutes. You may find your pork has reached 145 degrees in less than an hour. You should also note that these times and temperatures have been adjusted from the original recipe from which I made my adaptations. My research has shown that 145 degrees is now the standard for cooking pork and in my experience 155 degrees will yield dry, overcooked pork.

Adapted from Paula Deen via

Lemon Garlic Yukon Gold Potatoes

Hey there strangers! I’ve missed you!

Right now I’m at my parents house in Ohio cuddled up in bed with my cats. I only have 2 more days left with them before I leave for China and I am going to love their faces off while I still can. It’s been a pretty traumatic couple of weeks for them so I think they’re appreciating this cuddling down time.

2 weeks ago Tiffany flew home with my sister. Then Biggie had to adjust to her being gone and I moved everything out of the apartment and she was really not happy about that. Then, 1 week ago Biggie flew home to Ohio with me. Once in Ohio I expected a beautiful reunion between the 2 of them but that just didn’t happen. Instead Biggie hissed at Tiff and Tiff sat there with a sad look on her face and it took 3 days for them to get back to normal. It didn’t help that there are 2 other cats in my parents house so tension is already high and they have basically been locked up in my room for the past week.

Wish there was a way I could explain all of this to them. I know they will get lots of love and attention at my parents house but it doesn’t make this process much easier. I’m sad, they’re sad, and there is just no way to tell them why it’s all happening. So while I can I am cuddling with them, playing with them, and, like I said, basically loving their faces off. 🙂

But today’s post isn’t just about cats. I also have a recipe to share today. (woohoo!) I made these potatoes a few weekends before the mass craziness of moving ensued. Lemon Garlic Potatoes are a great way to add variety to your menu by taking a break from your usual side dishes. They come together quickly, require minimal work, and I love the subtle but fresh flavor of the lemon. Plus, it’s nice that the ingredients are all things that I usually already have on hand. The baking time is a little longer than some side dishes, but since that time is basically hands off you can work on the main course or just sit back and watch and episode of FRIENDS.

Lemon Garlic Yukon Gold Potatoes

1-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
Juice of one whole lemon
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium baking dish, toss the potatoes with the melted butter, garlic, and salt, then drizzle with lemon juice. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered. When they start to turn golden brown and are fork tender, they are done.

Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Garlicky Green Beans

Living in San Diego has a lot of perks. For one, the weather here is darn near perfect almost the whole year. Not too hot, not too cold. Just mellow. Unfortunately there a few downsides. Most of the downsides have to do with me missing things about Ohio. Family, friends, and my extended dance family.

A little background for those of you that might not know, for almost 10 years I taught Irish dancing. If you do anything for that long it is bound to become a part of you, but I find that dancing especially seeps its way into who you are. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll start singing a jig, just to make sure I didn’t lose it (because man it took a while to not accidentally slip into a reel mid-song). Other times I catch my feet doing a dance under my seat (or more embarrassingly, while waiting in a long line).

I have to admit that as much as I enjoy having my weeknights and weekends free, I’m a little sad to think that starting this week all my little dancers will be going back to class and I won’t be there. Even though Garlicky Green Beans aren’t really Irish, they are green. And in honor of my green McGing sweatshirt wearing dancers, I am posting this recipe for their first official week of the 2011-2012 dance year.

Quick notes about these green beans. 1) They are ridiculously easy 2) They are flavorful, crunchy, and the perfect fix it and forget it side dish.

Garlicky Green Beans
(Sunny Side Up original)

1 1/2-2 pounds fresh green beans, cleaned and cut to be even
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees*.

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl**.

Spread green beans on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the skin starts to shrivel, stirring once or twice during baking.

* I settled on 450 because that’s the temp my main course required. I’m sure it would be fine to use whatever temp your main course is. If it is less than 450 it will require more time, but will still work.

** For an extra flavorful punch do this about 30 minutes before you plan to cook the green beans and allow them to marinate in the oil/garlic.