Foodie Friday: Dinner Hack

First of all–thanks to all of you who took the challenge and posted your video blog this week! So great to see your faces. Be sure to check out everyone’s videos and comment when you get a chance! We’ll have another challenge going up on Monday, so get your webcam and complimentary lighting ready … 🙂

Are you familiar with this term, “lifehack”–tips and advice to get things done better and more efficiently? Surely you’ve seen it all over the place, there’s even a website devoted to the concept. It’s a wonderful concept, if you ask me, the idea of taking something and making it awesome with a few small steps. At the core, it’s really just good advice and common sense, but in our fast-paced world? Sometimes this stuff is that which is most easily forgotten.

Facing down dinner last night, I had nothing but the amazing dinner of the night before (anniversary date night dinner out) and the delicious fancy breakfast of that morning urging me to come up with something good. So I don’t have a proper recipe to go by, but here is how I did a “dinner hack” and came up with something pretty good.

Not Quite Carbonara

1 package chicken breasts (I sauteed mine earlier in the week so I’d have them ready)
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, julienned
chopped garlic
2-3 slices bacon (cooked & crumbled)
Bertolli four cheese rosa sauce
penne pasta (I like the Dreamfields carb balance pasta, way fewer carbs but still tastes like it should)

Note that this didn’t start out as carbonara, but when I was like “ooh, bacon!” that’s when it happened. I thawed out chicken earlier in the week but didn’t use it for dinner. I cut it into smaller, flat slices (paillards, if you’re into the cooking terminology) and sauteed them earlier in the week with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, packed it in the fridge for later use.

Directions:

Put a little olive oil in a large skillet and heat to medium. Add the onion and when it starts to sweat a little, toss in a few cloves of chopped garlic (to taste–I like a lot of garlic, so I used about 4). Few pinches of salt, few grinds of freshly cracked pepper. This is when I had the brilliant idea to toss some bacon into the mix and turn it into a fake carbonara (that creamy pasta with the eggy bacony sauce… yum!), and I have this 5lb bag of Hormel 100% bacon from the wholesale club, so I sprinkled in a little. Then a bit more for good measure, maybe 1/4 cup in all. Slap a lid on it and let it sweat down a bit over medium heat. Meanwhile, get your pasta ready. I also cut up some broccoli to go along with this, because, healthy!

When the onions are cooked down a bit, get your chicken paillards and get them into the pan, kind of spooning the bacony onions over the top of them so they’re all smothered and covered. Pour the sauce on top (I love Bertolli’s sauce with the added bonus being that it’s also usually very inexpensive). By this time, your pasta should be bubbling away, so take a little bit of that starchy water and shake it in the jar (there’s a lot of residual sauce); this will help loosen up the sauce a bit. Cover it and let everything bubble and yummify.

When the pasta is done, scoop it out into your waiting colander using a slotted spoon or something similar and then toss the broccoli into the already hot water for a few minutes to cook up while the chicken and pasta continue to warm. You could also scoop the pasta directly into the pan with the chicken, which I may do next time.

Top with some grated Parmesan and chopped fresh basil and that’s dinner. And what makes it a dinner hack for me are the great shortcuts: cooking the protein earlier in the week when I had time, using packaged products but doctoring them up to suit our tastes, cooking the pasta and the broccoli in the same water.

What’s your favorite dinner hack? Ordering in or going out don’t count! 😉

Don’t forget to make a vlog and link it up for our challenge this week!

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