Bowtie Chicken Pasta with a Submarine Ball thrown in

1 Comment

IMG_5218I should be in bed – just finished feeding Daniel for the last time and have a few minutes before I’m sleepy enough to nod off.  We went to the Submarine Birthday Ball tonight (in case you were wondering – no it’s not a sphere painted like a submersible, it’s 113th Annual dinner/dance in celebration and remembrance of the submarine force.)  We try to go to this event every spring, and each year I am touched by the presence of submarine veterans and the tolling of the bell for submarines that have been lost at sea.  Did you know that during WWII alone, 50 United States submarines were lost??  I know that’s a drop in the bucket of human losses during WWII, and even just when compared to the fact that probably the losses of all other shipping were pretty great, but in terms of percentage lost, I’m pretty sure being a submariner was one of the most dangerous jobs out there.  Two men helped cut the birthday cake tonight who had qualified on their subs (receiving their “dolphins”) in 1943.  Such brave men.

Trying to show you the back of the hairdo using mirrors - she did victory rolls!

Trying to show you the back of the hairdo using mirrors – she did victory rolls!

We had planned a family photo shoot prior to our departure for the Ball, but, alas, the rain had other plans.  When I returned from the mall where an awesome girl named Mac did my hair, the torrential rain had me worried I might not make it even in under an hour to the house (it’s a 20 minute drive normally.)  Thankfully, the puddles weren’t in my lanes, and the roads were accident-free, speeding my meet-up at the gate with the photographer, Sarah Stewart, who we just met recently through church.  We will certainly be rescheduling, since I’m hoping to populate the top of this blog with her photos of us sometime soon….Even though she came back to the house with us, it was still coming down by our drop-dead-must-leave-for-the-ball (or John would have turned into a pumpkin) time, so she took a few shots of the group on the front porch, and we were off to the races.  What follows are a few pictures from the evening, and then a scrumptuous recipe – inspired by the Macaroni Grill’s bowtie pasta in a creamy white wine sauce with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken.


making fun of the professional pictures they offer - this is the pose -- turned out much better than any they do at these events :)

making fun of the professional pictures they offer – this is the pose — turned out much better than any they do at these events 🙂

Friend Katie Guffy from church - we had a bit of trouble posing for a decent shot, so this one was my favorite :)

Friend Katie Guffey from church – we had a bit of trouble posing for a decent shot, so this one was my favorite 🙂

*Pictures from the iphone – a bit dark  🙂

*Standing in front of a bell (formerly a ship’s bell maybe?) and near the cake – we didn’t have any of it,  because they served delicious cheesecake as well.


4 Chicken Breasts – cut into strips to marinate better

1 pound bowtie pasta

2 Tbsp butter

4 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup white wine

3 cups half-and-half

1 cup mozzerella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2-1 cups sliced sundried tomatoes

4 Tbsp butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

white pepper and salt to taste

A few hours before dinner, marinate the chicken in something.  You could pour some Italian dressing into a ziploc or just throw together oil, wine, lemon juice, and a few seasonings.  Just a bit of flavor for the chicken ; it’s going to end up in the sauce so this is not the most important step.

Boil the pasta.  For me, the huge pot of water takes forever to boil, and the pasta cooks 14 minutes.  So, in the 30 minutes the rest of the meal takes to prepare, you can have the pasta cooking.

Marinating the chicken

Marinating the chicken

 In a large skillet, melt the butter (2 Tbsp), stir in the flour til smooth, and then whisk in the white wine.  I forgot to stir mine for a while, which is why it’s lumpy in the picture and took a lot of work to smooth out.  Add the cream and stir constantly over medium-low heat.

In a separate pan, saute the mushrooms with the butter (the other 4 Tbsp) and garlic.  DO NOT SALT the mushrooms, as I heard on a cooking show that this causes them to “sweat” leading to steaming/boiling the mushrooms rather than a real sauteing of the mushrooms.  Meanwhile, grill the chicken.  Once it’s grilled, cut it into large-bite-sized chunks.  (When I didn’t have my nifty “griddler” I just baked it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.)

Melting the butter to cook with the garlic and mushrooms

Melting the butter to cook with the garlic and mushrooms

awesome garlicky, buttery mushrooms

awesome garlicky, buttery mushrooms

trying to stir the flour into the sauce

trying to stir the flour into the sauce


Saute the sun-dried tomatoes with a little olive oil in your mushroom pan (Take the mushrooms out first, and set them aside.)

IMG_5130 IMG_5131

Finally, add the cheeses to the cream sauce, stir until melted, season with salt and white pepper; then, transfer the mushrooms, sliced chicken (already grilled) and tomatoes to the sauce.  Drain the pasta and return it to the huge pot (or a lovely serving bowl big enough for stirring), pouring the sauce into it and mixing well.  Be sure not to overcook your pasta in order to prevent it from breaking apart at this point.  I have had one friend prepare the whole meal, transfer it to a baking dish, refrigerate it overnight, and then warm it in the oven covered in foil – instant awesomeness.


The sauce - voila!

The sauce – voila!

my little helper :)

my little helper 🙂


PS – DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY!! THIS IS MY 206TH POST SO WE ONLY HAVE UNTIL 210 POSTS TO REACH OUR GOAL!  If you’re sharing recipes from the blog, I have rearranged the “recipe” tab at the top now (“in the kitchen”) to better organize the recipes.  You can read about the GIVEAWAY here.

Mexican Quiche and Learning to Share


Good morning! Trying to whip out a quick post in order to remind everyone that when you SHARE one of my posts in order to help us get up to 200 shares, you must COMMENT on the post so that I know who has entered the contest!! 🙂 I can see lots of views and whatnot in the past day, but I am unable to see WHO has shared unless you comment.  So please, comment away.  All day long. I love comments.  They make me feel like we’re actually communicating (a far cry from it, I know, but please, help me with my fantasy that I actually spend a good portion of the day talking to adults), so show me some comment love! 🙂  I just finished my protein shake and need to head out the door for a run.  Chop chop!!  Here’s a recipe, though, which I prepared a few months back from the Best of the Best from Texas Cookbook.  I’ve had it for years but regularly only make a few of the items, since we aren’t really into “spicy” around here (or dishes that elegantly make use of Velveeta Cheese.)  This one’s definitely a keeper, though.

The cookbook

The cookbook



Incidentally, after I broke out the goggles for fun in the bath the other night, Greer has now found my stash and just brought eight pairs of diving masks and swim goggles downstairs, with one on her head for good measure (too heavy to carry them all, she said.)


Make this quiche ahead of time and freeze it if you want something simple and tasty to serve up on a Sunday or a busy weeknight.  It’s a bit labor-intensive due to the cooking of the corn tortillas in oil (the part that takes the longest), and I find that quiche is ALWAYS best the next day, otherwise it’s a bit too soupy, no matter how long it’s been cooked.  Unlike every quiche I was fed in the UK, at the Armstrong house, we serve our quiche hot.  And for dinner, not breakfast.

With that being said, here’s the recipe:

building the "crust" with the tortillas

building the “crust” with the tortillas

Layering cheese into the "corn tortilla" crust

Layering cheese into the “corn tortilla” crust

Layering on the refried beans

Layering on the refried beans

smooth the beans out, if possible

smooth the beans out, if possible

Layering on the sausage

Layering on the sausage



8 Corn tortillas

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dip each tortilla briefly into the hot oil to soften it, then press between paper towels to remove excess oil. (Usually I have them in the oil about 30 seconds, then flip them over for another 15 seconds.)  Grease a 9-inch pie pan then line with prepared tortillas, overlapping them, extending abotu 1/2 inch over the pan edge.


Layer in this order into the dish on top of tortillas:

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1 cup refried beans

1/2 pound sausage, cooked and drained

2 Tbsp mild green chiles, diced (I omit these and make sure to season my dish in some other way – usually with homemade taco seasoning.)

In a small bowl, combine:

2 eggs

2 cups half-and-half or condensed milk

1/2 tsp  salt

Pour this mixture over the filling and then top with:

1 more cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

condensed milk, eggs

condensed milk, eggs

pouring the egg/milk mixture over the base

pouring the egg/milk mixture over the base

more cheese on top...

more cheese on top…

into the oven!

into the oven!

Back to work around the house now – here are the kiddos hard at work:

Ages 8 months to 8 years, working on the same toy.

Ages 8 months to 8 years, working on the same toy.

A quick reminder about the GIVEAWAY, in case you missed it yesterday. 🙂

I WILL DO A RANDOM DRAWING from amongst the people who participate.  IF we make it to 200 shares before I reach 210 blog posts, THEN I will draw for a winner, but we must all band together to get there!  You can pick ANY post from my blog and share it on Facebook or somewhere else in a way that is verified (any time someone shares one of my posts it shows up on the blog details for me), and then COMMENT on that post as well to tell me that you’ve shared it.  Just my “normal” readers sharing it won’t get us to 200, but if you share it with someone else who will share it, then we can make it!  I will update the share totals each day on the blog to let you know how it’s going!  I’m only doing this to “celebrate” sticking with “blogging” for this long (I just started at the end of last May), to hopefully have one helpful post – a recipe, a running tip, infant potty training, pictures of a levitating Yoda in Edinburgh [those could be helpful to someone, right?] – shared with a person who might find it useful, and to say “Thank You!” to everyone who shares our lives reading this blog.  Makes me feel “affirmed” a bit on days when my little army of minions is lacking a bit in the “positive feedback” category and insists on giving me a run for my money. 🙂

WHAT AM I GIVING AWAY?  Well, that depends on where you live.  LOCALS: 1st place will receive three things from me in the way of baked goods or meals – just take your pick from things I’ve mentioned on my “Recipes” page.  I’ll work hard before the day comes (if we get 200 shares) to update the page so all my recipes are represented.  2nd place will receive a baked good or two of my choice. 🙂  NON-LOCALS: I don’t want to give you something better than the LOCALS (because what if it made them sad to hear I was giving you a Starbucks card or something?!!?) so I’m thinking it should be some sort of healthy food item.  Depending on where you’re based, I will figure out how to get you a gift card to either a store like Whole Foods or a restaurant like Great Harvest Bread Company.  We’ll wait to find out if there is even a winner, and then where the winner resides to finalize that.  It would be $20 for first place and $10 for second in that case, to an aforementioned healthy joint.  Expect to see this same “summary” of the GIVEAWAY every day this week.  All for now –