Thursday, February 26, 2015

Family Rules--Geek Style

Yeah.  I don't do cute, overly sentimental sayings.  It's not my style and it's also not my style to have my wall say things everyone else's wall says.

What I do enjoy doing is making sure our home reflects us as a family.   We are a geek family.  We love Douglas Adams and Tolkien.  We spend way too much time playing Minecraft and Zelda and lots of other video games.  We do not choose between Star Trek and Star Wars.   We are a dual Star loving family.   Agents of SHIELD is appointment television here for everyone.  And if we have a couple of hours of time on a Sunday, we may just be playing board games.   

So I made a sign that is all us.  I had the the kids help me come up with the rules so it reflected everybody.  I love it, even though it was the biggest pain to make.  The vinyl didn't cut cleanly.  The board warped.  The stupid clear contact paper stuck too well to the vinyl when I tried to transfer.  It was a mess.  Honestly, I should toss it and start over, but after spending hours on a project that should have taken me 30 minutes tops, it's a victory just to have it done.  So enjoy, wonky letters and badly made font and all.  

Then make your own Family Rules.  What does your family love?  Sports?  TV? Movies? Books?  Board Games?  Make your rules about you.   Have fun, and I hope your vinyl cuts properly and your transfer sheets work right.  Also, the font Episode I is badly kerned.  Skip it even if your family loves Star Wars.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Pasta Alfredo

There are nights when I haven't the slightest clue what to make for dinner.  Sometimes that means we get something basic like chicken Alfredo, spaghetti, or even *gasp* buttered noodles (that's what happens when I don't feel like cooking and the 13 year old takes over.)   Tonight when I was lost for what to make, I just started pulling things out of the fridge and came up with a dressed up pasta Alfredo.

Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Alfredo

1/2 lb chicken cutlets (should be about one medium chicken breast sliced in half)
3/4 c cream
1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts
1/2 c sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips
1 T garlic
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese
1 box whole wheat penne, cooked (the company I use packages it in 12 oz packages)

I seasoned my chicken with Montreal Steak Seasoning from McCormick, but a basic seasoning with salt and pepper would be fine.  Then I pan fried it in a touch of olive oil until just cooked all the way through.  I pulled the chicken from the pan and added the garlic.  Cooked it for about 30 seconds and threw in the artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes, frying them until they were just turning brown.  I added the cream and let it simmer until it reduced just a bit.  While that was reducing, I sliced up the chicken into bite sized pieces and stirred it back into the dish. Then I stirred in the Parmesan and the pasta.   Lastly, I spread the mozzarella over the top and broiled it just until the cheese started to brown a bit.

If you start your pasta water boiling right before you throw your chicken in the pan, the pasta should be done right about the time you need to stir it into your frying pan.  The whole dish takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, which is exactly about as much time as I want to spend cooking on a weeknight.

As to the flavor, it is really rich.  Next time I might cut the cream with a bit of chicken broth.  My family said not to touch it though.  They love it the way it is.  Even my super picky 13 year old ate it and he doesn't eat anything except Hot Pockets, bread, and oatmeal.  Feel free to add as much artichoke and sun dried tomato as your family will eat.  You could up the chicken amounts if you wish, but with the extra protein in the dairy, it's really not necessary.