Weeknight Dinner Chicken Tetrazzini

I have major spring fever.  As frequent readers know, I have a new house with quite a lot of yard that we are unaccustomed to.  Last year, we were moving in and settling at the time planting was supposed to happen and I ended up with a small, haphazard garden that was eaten by my stupid groundhogs (woodchucks). This year I have plans in mind.  I have ideas to make it better. Chicken Tetrazzini pan Last year we converted an old dog kennel into a raised bed garden.  All the viney things on one side and all the other stuff on the other.  I made some mistakes.  I didn’t put down enough weed blocker or mulch or compost.  I didn’t really think about where things were supposed to be planted or garden design.  I just wanted to get things into the ground.   One of my lovely friends took an afternoon and helped me.  Because of the lateness of getting things into the ground, I bought most of my plants from the greenhouse instead of planting things from seeds.  All of that is about to change.  My husband knows to be wary of me when I get these ideas in my head.

I have this plan…Chicken Tetrazzini CloseI have this obnoxiously large jetted tub in my bathroom.  We don’t use the tub unless we put all the kids in swimsuits and let them swim for a while.  It is too much water for one person to bathe in.  With people in Capetown, South Africa on the verge of lining up for water and one of my colleagues telling me about places in India where they can only get non-river water every other day, I feel terribly guilty having a tub large enough to let 3 children “swim”.  Plus the tub is hard to get in and out of and my water heater isn’t large enough to fill the tub with hot water.  I haven’t even mentioned the part where the tub is located underneath 2 windows on the front of the house (on a busy street) and 2 windows on the side of the house all of which are very look-inable from the wrap around porch.  (This whole thing sounds obnoxious now.) I’m not in a place to remove the tub at the moment.  It’s time I just don’t have.

Ok, so let’s tie all this together because if you’ve gotten this far with me already, I know you are in for the long haul and are probably reading this for the content anyway and not just for the recipe.

I have this plan…

There is absolutely no reason in the world that this tub would not make the best ever place for starting seeds.  In seed trays, not just filling the tub with dirt.  And I need you think about this with me because I might be completely crazy.  It’s in a place in my house where there is natural light, but could also support a grow light.  It could be covered with a clear shower curtain or something like that to create a “greenhouse” and keep the moisture in.  And it has the added bonus of having a water source and drain right there.  Is this nuts?  Chicken Tetrazzini Plate

Ok, so how does the recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini relate to any of this?

I’ve got a lot going on lately.  I’ve got a lot of ideas and plans and lots of things that I want to do.  I’m a working mom and don’t have the time I used to have to prepare the exact meals I want for my family.  It’s a lot harder than when I worked at home.  Being done at 4 PM these days (if I’m lucky) doesn’t mean that I get to leave my desk, go to the kitchen, and start making supper.  Which means meal planning and figuring out how to make leftovers last through the week and planning ahead and all of that fun stuff.  And it all has to be done at a reasonable time because people have things to do and kids have bed times and the kitchen still needs to be cleaned.  Are you exhausted reading this?

With the spring coming (in another 4 weeks according to the groundhog’s prediction), I want to be able to do projects and play around in the yard when the sun is out.   Which means I need dinners that can be prepped in 30 minutes or less.  With a little pre-prep this one can be.  (Actually, with some extra liquid, a rotisserie chicken, and some aluminum foil, I bet you could do this whole recipe in the oven while you did something else.)  Chicken Tetrazzini log

I have a friend that goes to Italy frequently.  He has a favorite restaurant in Rome that he visits on each trip.  As Italian as this dish sounds, I doubt they make it this way in Italy (or probably much of anywhere else).  If he’s reading this recipe, he’s thinking of ways he could make it better.  Truth be told, I am too.  Which is not to say this is not something to make.  It’s good.  It’s comfortable.  It’s like yoga pants and bare feet at the end of the day.  Chicken Tetrazzini

If you want other good weeknight supper ideas Sausage Bean Casserole, Hot Chicken SaladSupper In a Bread Loaf,  but if at this point you are just overwhelmed, perhaps a nice Whiskey Slush is more your speed.

Skillet Potatoes Au Gratin

When I was young, the idea of potatoes au gratin really appealed to me. They just sounded so special and fancy.  Scalloped potatoes were a regular thing at our house and there were au gratin potato chips, but I don’t recall them being a regular part of our menu.  They may have been, but I don’t remember it.  (Sorry, mom.)

Potatoes and cheese are classic.  Switzerland has raclette (which I have eaten in Switzerland).  Canada has poutine (which I have not eaten in Canada, but I assume I will at some point.)  Sports bars have potato skins.  Diners offer cheese with hashbrowns. One time I made chipotle potatoes au gratin and they were amazing.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a potato and cheese combination that I didn’t like. These Skillet Potatoes were no exception.  DSCN2768

Maybe these potatoes were so ooey-gooey delicious because we use Weyauwega cheese almost exclusively.  Seriously, there is nothing better.  It’s the cheese I grew up eating, so maybe that’s part of it, but it is really good cheese.  They are even distributing cheese curds to Texas now.  My friend called to ask if they were legit.  Yep.  They are the real thing. (This makes it sounds like an advertisement.  It’s not, I just really love Weyauwega cheese.)

DSCN2769Boiling the potatoes with the onions mellows the onions and just leaves the flavor.  The small amount of water used to boil the potatoes means the potatoes don’t need to be drained and the starch from them helps to thicken the cheesy sauce.  These are not the best au gratin potatoes I’ve ever had in my life.  They aren’t steakhouse worthy, but you know, for something that is ready in 30 minutes or less, it’s a pretty decent side dish for any night of the week.

Skillet Potatoes Au Gratin