Cooking With Your Kids – Parmesan Chicken and Pasta

 

My 15-year old daughter wanted me to show her how to make a Chicken and Pasta dish that I make every now and then.  I knew it was an easy one and fairly inexpensive so that some day, when she’s out on her own, she’ll be able to make this and not break the pretty little piggy bank that she will have. 

The problem is this – I make it differently every single time.  The process is the same but the seasonings are different.  And wouldn’t you know, when I was showing her how to make it, it didn’t turn out to be the “BEST ONE EVER”.  I was trying to make it easy on her by using the prepared seasoning mix of Dean Jacob’s – Parmesan Bread Dipping Blend.  You can find it in specialty stores and online and it’s basically a mixture of a bunch of seasonings.  It’s flavorful and can be used in many dishes to give the extra Italian punch you want. 

 

We all agreed it needed more flavor so I’ve “fixed” the recipe below to give it what it needed.    Giving you two different seasoning options – one is the Dean Jacob’s seasoning plus a few extras and the other is the nonscientific way that I normally cook – I just dump a little bit of this and a little bit of that into a small bowl and voila – out comes a new mixture.  When I taste it, if it needs more pepper, I add more pepper, if it needs more salt, I add more salt.  Not what you want to hear from a food blogger is it.  I’ll guide you through it – I promise.

So as my daughter and I were making dinner, I realized that cooking with a 15-year old and her cell phone, don’t really go together well.  We “had to” stop the process a few times in order for her to text her friends.  It was funny the first time or two but then I told her (and I think my exact words were) “Put that damn thing away!”  Ah – good parenting once again.  It worked – no more texts for the rest of dinner prep.  Or – maybe she was done with her conversation.  I’m going with my yelling – it makes me feel better.

First off – start the pasta water.  While that is getting hot, start on the chicken.

Since my daughter is 15, I trust her with knives so I showed her first how to take the fat off the chicken breast and then cut it into cubes. She’d never cut up chicken before and the nice thing about this recipe is that if the chicken pieces are a little big or a little small, it just doesn’t matter. 

 

 

Next step is to cook the chicken.  We heated some olive oil in a large skillet, added the chicken and some seasoning and cooked until the chicken was done – about 10 minutes, stirring them often. 

 

I think another reason our dish wasn’t the “BEST ONE EVER” was that our chicken wasn’t as “crisp” or browned as we like.  So, if your chicken has a lot of moisture in it, drain off some of that water/fat combo and cook your chicken until a nice light brown.  Not like ours.  Yours will be better!

While the chicken is cooking, the water for the pasta should be boiling so add your angel hair pasta to the water.  I chose angel hair pasta because it cooks up faster than regular spaghetti or linguini but you could use either of those as well.

So – we have the chicken done and the pasta is almost done.  When the pasta is ready to be drained, leave a little bit of pasta water in the bottom of the pot.  I leave just enough to cover the bottom of the pan again.  We are going to toss the drained pasta in this pasta water and add some more of the seasonings to it.  This way our chicken and pasta are both seasoned. If by chance you forget about leaving some pasta water in the pot, you can always toss your pasta with a little bit of olive oil.

Now serving it up is your choice.  You can mix the two together or you can leave them in separate bowls and let the hungry mob fill their own plates of what they want more of.  Make sure you top it off with some shredded parmesan cheese and serve it with a side salad and some garlic bread.  It’s the best!  Plus, any leftovers will be more flavorful the next day. 

My daughter made this whole meal pretty much by herself with my supervision but I feel confident that she’d be able to make this the next time by herself without my help – as long as she has a recipe/directions to follow so that she doesn’t skip any steps. 

I knew there would be a bonus to teaching her how to cook – someday – I won’t have to!

Parmesan Chicken and Pasta

This is a quick and easy recipe to make with your kids. If they are not old enough to use a knife, let them measure out the ingredients. Great busy night meal - on the table in less than 30 minutes.

If you can’t find the Parmesan Blend or want to make your own here is a recipe.
In a small bowl mix -
• 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
• 2 teaspoons black pepper
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Add 3 tablespoons of mixture in place of the other seasonings to the chicken while cooking and then add the rest to the pasta in place of the individual seasonings as well.
If you feel your meal needs a little bit extra of something like pepper or onion powder – add a little at a time until you get the flavor you are looking for.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

• 8 ounces angel hair pasta
• 2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 tablespoons Parmesan Blend or see recipe above to make your own personal blend
• 2 teaspoons pepper
• 3 teaspoons onion powder
• 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

1. Cook and partially drain pasta leaving enough pasta water in the pot to cover the bottom.
2. While pasta is cooking, cut up chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken. Add 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan Blend to the chicken. Add about 1 teaspoon of pepper and 2 teaspoons of onion powder to the chicken as well. Cook about 10 minutes or until no pink is in the middle of the chicken and the outsides are a light golden brown.
4. Toss the cooked pasta with the leftover pasta water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan Blend, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon onion powder.
5. Serve cooked pasta and chicken on a plate and top with some shredded Parmesan Cheese.