Garlic Herb Chicken Pasta

A long time friend of mine, Leanne Henderson, made this yummy but mild meal for me while I was staying at her house earlier this week. I went up to Dallas with a dear young woman from our ward that had recently graduated from high school. Her parents were unable to get off work long enough to take her to freshman orientation at the University of Texas at Dallas. I volunteered to take her up there as I did have the time to go and Ben and I both felt it was important that she went. Of course, I did not want to drive all the way up there and back to only turn around and do it again the next day. That is a long drive to do that with the current price of gas. So I called my friend Leanne who lives in the Dallas area and I got myself a place to stay for the time she would be during the orientation.
Now, I know that you all know that I cannot leave well enough alone and call a recipe good. Fortunately, there was no recipe for this stuff. So let the tweaking begin, right? 
She called it Garlic Chicken. She said it was a hit with all her kids, all girls. She has 5 of them. They all scarfed it down. Granted the youngest is only 4 months old so there was no consumption, let alone scarfing on her part. The only 4 girls, however, did eat it and seemed to like it. I should point out that she has one child in particular that is a picky eater. She said that she is “allergic to flavor” as they like to joke. I found that kind of funny as for some kids, it is just true. Some kids do not like certain flavors. One of the other kids wanted more flavor I noticed, but a little seasoning salt sprinkled on and she was happy. 
Naturally, the ingredients for this dish are simple so this is fairly easy to make. It is also quick to make. That is what appealed to me. 
One of the main ingredients is garlic. My friend used actual garlic cloves. She had them on hand. She said that she often uses the stuff in the jar already minced or diced. Whatever it is. You can get it roasted. It comes in the little jars for about $1 if you watch the sales. I used to buy them a bunch at a time. You can get large jars too if you go through a lot of garlic. She, however, had actual garlic cloves on hand from a previous recipe that she needed it for.
I have to admit – a confession – that I have not bought either of these in a long time. Once I found Penzeys Minced Garlic I pretty much decided that there was not much of a need anymore. This stuff from Penzeys is wonderful. It only takes 1/4 teaspoon to equal 1 clove so it is potent, but it is good stuff. When you open the jar, you know you are getting good garlic. Tweak #1.
The best part about the Penzeys Minced Garlic it is a garlic lover’s life saver when that person just happens to be a lazy chef. It sautes up just like garlic does. You can smell it as it cooks. You can even burn it and that does not smell very good. Just take my word for it. I used about 4 cloves worth for my batch for this recipe. Yes, that is a lot of garlic, but for what I ended up with in the pan it was necessary. Tweak #2.

Sauté the chicken until cooked. Do not be afraid to turn up the heat a little bit. I used about 5 chicken breasts for this. I want my children to get a lot of protein. My kids burn it off and I need it. That was one thing I did over what she did. I increased the chicken a lot. Tweak #3.

Cook your pasta per package directions. I like to use my microwave cooker to do pasta. Follow the directions for your preferred method. You can use just about any pasta she said. Use what you have on hand. She used elbow macaroni because she wanted to use that up. She preferred to use rotini pasta. I had a 1 pound box of rotini that I used for this version of my recipe. That is a lot larger than what she did. Tweak #4.

When I first went to grab my pasta, I was going to use the “veggie garden” variety of pasta that I got at the grocery store for a great deal with sales shopping combined with coupons. They have been in there for a while and they actually would be perfect for a recipe like this. I had my thumb ready to open the box when I flipped it over and and started reading the labels. I am so glad that I did. They are not good for me. I actually cannot eat them. I will have to save those for a day when I have time to make two entire meals. They have tomatoes in them. Fortunately, they were not the only rotini noodles I had.

I was a little disappointed to be real honest with you. At least I know ahead of time and I know to not touch those kinds of noodles in anything I eat in the future. I would not have thought about that and I would have left myself open for a lot of pain. That is not good.

Add one teaspoon of Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle seasoning to the meat. While the garlic is nice, I did not think that it had enough. It was good, but it just was not enough. I wanted more. It was just too mild for even me. I was also thinking about my sister, Jennifer Mowrer, and how she could potentially still eat it. Of course she would have to cut back the garlic I used. This would be a nice exchange for her. She might even want to increase the Pasta Sprinkle more.

Add one package of frozen broccoli to the mixture while the pasta is cooking. Distribute evenly so that the broccoli will cook. You could even add two bags. I had a lot of meat in the pan and ultimately with 1 pound of pasta cooked up, it is a lot to distribute a bag of broccoli throughout. It would have been better with a larger bag of broccoli (a family size) or two of the smaller bags. Cut up large pieces. I prefer Broccoli Florettes but I only had a bag of Broccoli Pieces so that is what I used for this batch.

This is what it looks like cooked down. Like I said, I added my broccoli to my pan on the stove top while my meat was still simmering. I did this while my pasta was cooking in the microwave. I did not waste time and did not remove my meat from the stove top to let it cool down at any point. While the meat is still in the pan, get your pasta going, then add your broccoli to your meat while your pasta is cooking. It is really simple. Tweak #5.

Drain pasta and add to the pan. The thing that I like about my microwave pasta cooker is that it has a colander that the pasta sits in while it cooks. This makes draining the pasta super quick and easy. 
I put the pasta right into it, set it down into the cooker, put in the proper amount of water, put on the lid, and pop it into the microwave. I have to use the plate under mine because I use mine so much the seal on it has worn out and it leaks. The plate catches the “run over.”

Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. Mix well, until the butter and cheese are melted and well distributed. I know that this is a lot of Parmesan Cheese, but it has such a mild flavor once you get it mixed together that you do not notice it. Also for the amount of other ingredients, it is really not that much cheese at all. You can even increase the butter a little and be perfectly fine.

The mild blend of flavors is perfect for a quick and easy pasta dish.

Garlic Herb Chicken Pasta

1 tsp Penzeys Minced Garlic (4 garlic cloves)
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
1 tsp Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle seasoning
1 bag frozen broccoli (family size)
1 lb pasta (uncooked)
3 tbsp butter
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Lightly saute garlic. Saute chicken in the pan with the garlic. Add Pasta Sprinkle seasoning. Mix well.

Prepare pasta per package directions. Drain. 

Add broccoli to pan while pasta is cooking. Mix well. Add pasta to pan and mix well. Add butter and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.

As far as how my children felt about it, that was a different story. I served it with a side salad complete with “real” bacon bits and croutons. I was surprised by what I saw next.

My oldest did not turn his nose up to the Garlic Herb Chicken Pasta. Quite contrary. He topped his with bacon bits and croutons and then proceeded to chow down like your typical 16 year old teenager. He had his salad after he scarfed down the plate of it.

My middle child did not want it on his plate with his salad. I think he topped his with croutons.

My youngest insisted that it did not touch his salad. He topped his with bacon bits.

They were more than happy to eat it, they just wanted something else on it. None of them complained about it. They were just happy that there was bacon involved. I should remind you that they are bacon deprived. They all commented on how “bacon makes everything better.” Food for thought? Next time just add bacon to it too?

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