So my parents are in this 3-part, mini Advent-themed play at their church during the next three weeks of Wednesday night Advent services. This cracks me up for two reasons:
1. Can YOU keep a straight face picturing your parents standing up in front of their congregation and, uh, ACTING?!
2. My Mom can’t memorize lines to save her life. Poor gal!
See, my dad was cast in the play first, but they still needed a women to play his wife so he volunteered, well, his wife, then asked her if it was ok. You know how it goes.
After being a good sport about it for the first couple of practices, the thought of actually getting up there and reciting her lines live from memory proved to be more than the poor woman could handle, so she quasi-begged to be replaced at their final dress rehearsal last night, on the eve of their first performance – TONIGHT!
I’m sure she’ll be fantastic though. I told her to tape her lines to the back of a prop, and make sure she gets a Britney Spears over-the-ear mic instead of a hand held one. Just another distraction, right?
By the way, I can laugh about all this because it’s not me. If the roles were reversed I’d be either a.) barfing, or b.) sweating profusely on the alter as they called action, as I can’t memorize lines for ‘ish either, AND I hate standing up in front of crowds. That said, I can’t wait to see them in action. BaHA!
Anyways, all the church talk got me reminiscing about the countless hours my family used to spend there on Wednesday nights growing up. From youth choir, bell choir, and puppet club (yeah…) practices, to youth group meetings, and gosh, who knows what else, I feel like we were there all afternoon and evening on Wednesdays, especially during the holidays!
If we weren’t eating at the church’s weekly soup supper potluck, my Mom would usually whip up a quick and easy meal before heading out of the house, like this Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet for a healthy dinner that would keep us going all night long.
YOU GUYS. This dinner is SUCH a winner!! Marinated chicken is sauteed then placed on top of chewy penne pasta coated in a luscious, tomato-pesto-cream sauce that’s made with ZERO CREAM! I’ll show you my trick, it’s freaking amazing.
Made in one skillet, and extremely filling, this is one mouthwatering dinner that will keep hungry bellies full and satisfied for hours.
Start by marinating chicken breasts in a lip-smacking, flavor-packed marinade. (BTW – I made 1/4 of the chicken for the photos below!) I love using Just BARE Chicken breasts because they have no added hormones or antibiotics, AND they come pre-trimmed, FTW.
In a large, Ziplock bag place 2 Tablespoons pre-made pesto. You can use my homemade recipe, or buy it pre-made from the store. This pre-made pesto from Trader Joe’s is fantastic. I’ve used it dozens of times for different recipes and it always tastes really fresh.
Next add 1/2 bottle of Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade to the bag. This is a 30 minute marinade which means it gives the chicken TONS of flavor, in just a little bit of time. Finally, add the chicken, squish to coat in the mixture, then marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. Marinade = done!
When you’re ready to eat, spray a large skillet very well with non-stick spray then cook the chicken breasts over medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, or until they’re no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover loosely with foil, then set ‘em aside for a bit.
At the same time, drop 8oz penne pasta into salted, boiling water. Once it’s al dente, drain then set it aside too.
K! Now onto the creamy, dreamy sauce that’s made in the same skillet as the chicken.
Carefully wipe out the skillet with a spatula, then saute 1/4 small minced onion in 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil until tender. Then add 2 minced garlic cloves and saute for 30 seconds. Next, add 1/2 cup chicken broth and let it cook until reduced by half. Only takes a minute or two!
Once the chicken broth has reduced, add 8oz tomato sauce, followed by my secret weapon – 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk!
Evaporated milk gives the same creamy mouth-feel as cream does to recipes, but adds a fraction of the fat and calories. I used it in a Creamy Roasted Brussels Sprouts post I did for Delish Dish last week, and am seriously never looking back!
The last step to take the creamy sauce up a notch is to whisk in 1 teaspoon flour, and 4 teaspoons pesto.
Let the sauce bubble and thicken for a few minutes, then stir in the cooked pasta.
Finally, plate and top with the cooked chicken!
Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet
Adapted from Plain Chicken
For the chicken marinade:
4 small chicken breasts
1/2 bottle Lowry’s Garlic Herb Marinade
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
For the skillet:
8oz penne pasta
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 small onion, minced
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
8oz tomato sauce
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 teaspoon flour
4 teaspoons prepared pesto
- Combine marinade and pesto in a large Ziplock bag then add chicken breasts and squish to coat. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- Saute marinated chicken in a large skillet sprayed well with non-stick spray over medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate then cover loosely with foil to stay warm and set aside. Carefully wipe out skillet with a spatula or wet paper towel. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil then season with salt and add penne. Cook until al dente then drain and set aside.
- Still over medium heat, add oil to the skillet then add onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until tender, then add garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for 30 more seconds. Carefully add chicken broth then let simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and evaporated milk then whisk in flour and pesto. Simmer until thick and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Add cooked and drained pasta then toss to combine. Portion out to plates then top with cooked chicken.
This sauce is a home-run, outta the ball park, winner. You would never know it was made with evaporated milk and not heavy cream. It’s so decadent and delicious!
The chicken is flavorful from inside and out, and super tender too. A combo of good quality chicken, and a GREAT marinade!
Devoured. LOVED this meal!
Month of Holiday Giveaways
In order to make a Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet at home for yourself, Just BARE Chicken is giving away an awesome prize pack of chicken and other Just BARE products as part of my Month of Holiday Giveaways!
In addition to a package of Chicken Breast Tenders, Chicken Drumsticks, and a Whole Chicken, Just BARE is throwing in an apron, bamboo utensils, cooler bag, mug and a reusable bag, too!
Win this entire Just BARE Chicken prize package by using the following widget to enter by 11:59pm central time on Thursday, December 6.
- Enter once by clicking on the “+1″ button then clicking “Enter.”
- Enter a second time by clicking on the second “+1″ button then “Liking” Just BARE’s Facebook page. If you currently Like them, click “I’m a Fan!”. If you are not, Like the page via the blue button, and then click “I’m a Fan!”
Please note that the widget may take a few moments to load, it may not work in Internet Explorer, and that you must have a Facebook account to enter. If you do not have a Facebook account, email IowaGirlEats@gmail.com for one entry.
FYI – I hope to go back to regular entry-via-comments for subsequent giveaways this month. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to the Keurig Giveaway, the number of comments/rapid frequency “broke” the post, which we don’t want to have happen again until we figure out why it happened. Thanks for your patience with using this widget in the meantime!