The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

For More Than Just Popcorn: Basil Chicken Pasta


To me, there is just something unnatural about using the microwave to cook. My microwave is on the counter by the refrigerator, but we only use it for defrosting, Easy Mac, and popcorn.


So, when a friend shared this recipe for chicken and pasta in the microwave, I thought she was kidding. This friend is trustworthy and a great cook, but microwave pasta? Blech.

Then she shared a sample. Yum.

The recipe:

4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
3 c uncooked penne pasta
3 c chicken broth
2 c grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1 oz. parmesan
1 c fresh basil, cut into ribbons or 1 t of dry basil-I used dry.
3/4 c white wine
1/2 c heavy cream
2 c diced grilled chicken-I bought a bag of frozen grilled chicken, and it worked out fine.
Put the olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes in a large glass casserole dish with a lid. I used my largest Corning Ware bowl. Cover and cook in the microwave on high for five minutes. The tomatoes should pop.
Add the chicken broth and pasta to the tomatoes, as well as the wine. Stir. Cook and cover again in the microwave for 10 minutes. Stir it again and microwave again for another 8 minutes.

Stir in the basil, chicken, and the cheese. Cover and heat in the microwave for another 3 minutes. Top with extra cheese if you wish.

I like this a lot. It’s got vegetables, pasta, protein, wine, and cheese-all the things needed for a happy life and shiny coat.

This recipe is easy enough for a novice to do well and anywhere there is a microwave. Thinking that, I gave my niece all these ingredients for her to make this meal in her dorm room at college. I thought I was doing a good deed. Later she texted me and reminded me that if someone found the wine in her dorm, she would kicked out of school and her future would be ruined.

My bad!


Feeding the College Kids: Bread Pudding

There is a soft place in my heart for kids in college.  The studying.  The small dorms.  The roommates.  The food.

Many moons ago when I was in college living in the dorms, I had a meal card that bought my lunch from the cafeteria five days a week.  They had salads, sandwiches, a hot plate, and burgers.  The food was always fine, but it wasn’t home food and  some experiences were always better than others.  For example,  it was in that college lunchroom that I first encountered lentils.

Shiver.  Lentils.

I can’t really remember eating in my dorm room much.  I know I did eat, but I really can’t remember what I ate, and I really don’t remember cooking anything.   I know that I had chicken salad a lot from the grocery store.  I also remember the time my then boyfriend brought me a bag of homegrown tomatoes that I sliced and ate on sandwiches.  That was pure heaven.

The tomatoes, not the boyfriend.  The tomatoes were much better than the boyfriend.

Well, now my niece is the college girl eating weird food in her dorm room.  Recently she made a meal in her dorm room and commented on it on Facebook.  A few college friends of hers posted about what she made, which was some “noodles and vegetable stuff” and a bread pudding.  Comments went back and forth about the meal, and it all ended up with me offering to feed these poor, starving college kids a homemade bread pudding.

It was fun.


Before the Sauce

The recipe:

2 cups of milk

1 and 1/2 sticks of butter, separated

1/2 cup of sugar

4 cups of King’s Hawaiian bread, cubed

2 eggs, beaten

Dash of salt

Dash of nutmeg

1 t vanilla

2 cups of powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until a skin forms over the top.  To it, add the butter and the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir.  In a large bowl, pour the milk mixture over the bread and allow to soak for fifteen minutes.  This will look watery, but it will be fine.

While the bread is soaking, mix the eggs, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla together.  When the bread has soaked long enough, add the egg mixture to the bread mixture.  Bake in a well-greased square cake pan for 35 or 40 minutes.

While it bakes, make the sauce for the top by melting the stick of butter in a small saucepan.  When the butter has melted, add the powdered sugar and turn up the heat to medium.  Stir constantly and quickly until the mixture is thickened and the butter is well incorporated.

Pour the sauce over the top.  Store in the refrigerator but serve warm.

The finished bread pudding

The finished bread pudding

My family and I delivered this bread pudding and some other groceries to my niece recently on a cold winter’s night while she was working on a paper about a poem.  While we there, we got to take her out to eat, see her dorm room,  and spend some time with her.  It was so fun to see the girl who was born when I was in college taking her turn as the college girl.

That didn’t make it any easier to leave her in that lonely dorm room, though.

But hey, she’s a strong, smart chick with a great deal of confidence and a good head on her shoulders-a lot like lots of other ladies who paid their dues in college dorms with brick walls.

Not saying those are traits I have, but my dorm’s brick walls were bright Pepto pink.

A few days after our visit, on that same Facebook post that started the whole bread pudding conversation, one of the friends who first commented about that meal posted that my niece had shared a bit of my bread pudding with him.  He said it was “clutch.”

I guess that’s a good thing?

Regardless, it got the job done.  A few college students have now had a bit of home cookin’, and hopefully it made them a little happier.  And, they know all they have to do is comment on Facebook about food, and I’ll be glad to share some more of whatever they want.

Just making the food, sharing it, and thinking about the college life was plenty of fun for me.

Sunday Night Supper


A turkey, Doritos, and Miracle Whip sandwich-the Sunday supper of champions.

And twelve-year-olds.

And opinionated food bloggers.

For some reason I just can’t understand, I am the only one in the house eating this delicious delight.

It’s an acquired taste, I guess.

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