Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sarah's Birthday Pasta

My daughter turned 25 this last week.... I feel old to have a 25 year old daughter. But it was fun to have her home. I always let my kids pick what they want for dinner on their birthdays and this year was no different. She couldn't decide at first, but then she said she wanted my chicken Alfredo or something like it with bacon.... so we thought and I suggested a few things but this is what we came up with. I used  my sun dried tomato Alfredo sauce and we put grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms and artichokes, and cooked bacon! And to mix it up a bit we used farfalle pasta (bow tie pasta) instead of fettuccine. She also requested bruschetta for an appetizer and the rest of us were lucky to get any...the leftover tomato mixture made a good garnish for the top of the Alfredo, it looked pretty and tasted great, I steamed fresh asparagus to go with this pasta and we had  crusty baguette bread warmed in the oven... mmmmm is this what heaven on a plate tastes like? oh, and it's not for the calorie conscious.. but this was a splurge for a birthday dinner.... YUMMO! Happy birthday Sarah!!

Sarah's Birthday Pasta
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced into 1/4 inch thick  pieces
4 to 6 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1 small package sliced mushrooms
1 (14-oz) can Artichoke hearts, quartered (not the marinated kind, just canned in water)
1 box Farfalle Pasta (bow tie) you may not need the whole box
Sun dried tomato Alfredo Sauce (see recipe below)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook chicken however you desire. I like to marinate mine in McCormick's Garlic, Herb and Wine marinade for a few hours, and then grill on a medium hot grill for about 7 minutes per side or until done. I let cool and then slice into thin slices to put in my pasta.
Cook your bacon, I like to put mine on a cooling rack that I place on a cookie sheet. Then I bake it at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes... perfect bacon. Let cool slightly , then I slice into bite size pieces.
Heat a pot of salted water to boil so you can cook your noodles.
Start your Alfredo sauce (see recipe below).
I start my mushrooms next, by putting a little olive oil in a skillet and heating it over medium heat, then add your mushrooms and cook about 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Next I toss in my artichoke hearts and cook for about 2 more minutes to warm them up.
Once your pot of water starts to boil, add your pasta and cook according to the package directions or until al dente (bow tie pasta takes a bit longer than fettuccine.... I think I cooked mine about 12 minutes).Then drain and set aside.
When your sauce and the pasta are done, add the chicken, most of the bacon (save just a bit for garnishing if you like), mushrooms,  artichokes, and pasta (you may not need the whole box, I had a little left over) to the sauce. Toss to combine. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and reserved bacon pieces as desired. Enjoy!!

Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
6 Tablespoons butter
1 whole garlic bulb, roasted (click here to see how to do that) or 1 heaping Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup diced sun dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil with 2 tablespoons of the oil
3 ounces cream cheese, softened or brought to room temperature (this could be optional, I found a few recipes on the internet that had it and thought it would help thicken the sauce, but not necessary)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half or milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash of Cayenne pepper
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for Garnishing

Melt butter in a large skillet with deep sides (you will add everything to this pan later) over medium heat. sqeeze the garlic out of the skin onto a plate and mush with a fork. Add the garlic paste (or minced garlic) and the sun dried tomatos and some of the oil that they come in (about 2 tablespoons) to the butter and cook for about 1or 2  minutes or until slightly browned. Add the cream cheese and cook until the cheese kind of blends into the butter then whisk in the cream and the half and half, keep the heat at about medium to medium-low, and bring this to barely a simmer (if this boils too hard, the cream and the butter separate and look curdled) Once its at a low simmer, cook for about 5 minutes then add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese. Bring mixture back to a low simmer and continue to cook another 5 to 8 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring often. ( Remember, don't simmer at too high of heat or it will separate)
Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

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