{Confetti Chicken Pasta}

Brrrrr --  It's quite chilly in the Lone Star State today!  Hope everyone is enjoying the change of weather like I am!  Yesterday, hubs and I played kickball with Racks&Sacks in about 70 degree weather, and when we got home the temperature had dropped to about 50 degrees.  Praise the LORD for holding off storms and chilly temps long enough for us to get through our game, which btw... we WON.  This makes us still undefeated. :)  The wind and rain knocked almost all the remaining leaves off the trees in our backyard, and when I woke up this morning it looked like it had snowed leaves.  I love it!

{Rain + leaves = Fall Heaven}

The weather change makes me want warm, comfort food, and while this recipe is not super common, it is going to become common in the Naborshood.  Let me introduce you to the wonders of Confetti Chicken Pasta, if you haven't already been formally introduced.  This meal is quick and easy, and is perfect for those nights you come home and really don't want to put effort into a healthy meal.  Enjoy!

Confetti Chicken Pasta
Veggies & Pasta
16 oz. Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in 1" cubes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of carrots, long thin slices
1 c. broccoli florets
1 c. asparagus, chopped in 1" pieces
1 c. grape tomatoes

Spicy Cream Sauce
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. 1/2 & 1/2
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 c. Parmesan cheese

Cook your pasta as per the package.  Drain pasta, and set aside.

Take your chicken breast and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook chicken until done and golden on all sides.  Make sure you cube your chicken breasts after you salt and pepper them.  I forgot this step and it took longer for the chicken to cook than I really wanted to spend.  Remove from heat and let rest in a large bowl.  (Really pick a large bowl because you're going to add your other ingredients to this as things are done cooking.  I thought I could just put everything back in the noodle pan, but that was a bad idea.  It overflowed reallllly quickly.)

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil (remaining olive oil) and begin sauteing the onions for 2 minutes.  I used frozen chopped onions which took a little longer to thaw in the pan than 2 minutes, but I didn't have to chop any onions.  (No tears!)

Next, add in your garlic and carrots and saute for another 4 minutes to allow the carrots to moderately soft.  I LOVE GARLIC so I tend to add more than the recipe calls for.  In my opinion you can never have too much garlic.  Who's with me?!  The recipe originally called for one yellow bell pepper in place of the carrots.  Bell peppers don't exactly agree with my stomach, and I read a while back that you can substitute carrots without changing the flavor since they, like bell pepper, have little taste, but are colorful and good for you!  So, I did that.  Feel free to be a rebel and join me. :)

Then, toss in any other "woody" vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, etc) saving the tomatoes until the very end.  (You don't want the tomatoes to get too soggy!)  Woody was not my term, by the way.  That's what the recipe called them, so I just went with it!  Here I again used frozen broccoli to save myself some time.  I took the bag out and let it thaw on the counter while I was cooking the other items, so by the time I added it to the mix it was pretty thawed.  Then, add in your grape tomatoes.  I cut mine in halves because I'm not the biggest tomato fan, and this way there were much smaller portions that could end up in my mouth at one time.  I'll be honest, they actually tasted pretty darn good with the mix.  Use your best judgement on time, and try a couple of veggies, especially the asparagus, to make sure they are as tender, or al dente, as you prefer.

{This is what your pan should look like.  Isn't it pretty and colorful?!  Plus, look at all those veggies!!}

When everything is cooked, put the veggies in the bowl with your chicken.  (I told you you'd need a big bowl!)

Now it's time for the DELICIOUS sauce!!

In the same pan you cooked you chicken and veggies in, melt the 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Add your flour and stir diligently, cooking for about 1-2 minutes.  (Apparently, what we're making is called a roux.)  It should look a little like this at this stage:

Slowly add in the 1/2 and 1/2 while stirring to avoid any clumping.  I was an avid stirrer and I still got a few clumps, so don't feel bad if yours isn't perfect, and if yours is perfect, then you go Glen Coco!

Add in your red pepper flakes and allow the mixture to simmer until you see some boiling action.  Ow ow!  Remember to stir periodically.  When your sauce begins to bubble and thicken, turn off the heat and add in your cheese.  The original recipe called for feta, but she said her mom uses parmesan, and since I'm not the biggest feta fan, surprise surprise!, I used good ole' parm.  #nom  Stir until melty.  (That's what she said?... Really... the original directions said that.)

{The border collies had to pass the heck out while I made dinner -- "they dead" (as we say).  Tough life.}

Add your pasta to the big bowl, and then pour your yummy sauce over top all the goodies!  This dish makes enough for 4 people, or if you're like us, you call dibs as fast as you can to take left overs for lunch the next day. :)

{Finished product - drooling - mmmmm}

{My bowl... that wasn't full for more than 5 minutes after this picture.}

I hope y'all enjoy the dish!  I think next time I may try it with a Prego Marinara and add red pepper flakes to it while it's heating up.

Enjoy the cooler weather friends!  As for me, I'll be enjoying my Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dulce coffee while I take Oakley Mae to the vet to get weighed for her heartworm prevention meds.  Ryan and I are taking bets on what homegirl weighs.  Closest without going over gets to choose where we eat dinner tomorrow night.  Last time we went she was a hefty 44lbs, so my guess is 48 lbs this time.  We'll see who the winner is! :)

{Love these border collie babies}

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