Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day vs. Presidents' Day vs. Family Day

It was the ultimate three-way throwdown. My parents and brother had come down from the Great White North to spend their long weekend with us, because Monday was 'Family Day' in Canada. Even though our time together was too short, we managed to catch up on all the family gossip! We also took advantage of the fabulous Presidents' Day sales by scoring some great bargains (always cheers me up! 70% off is what I'm talkin' about, ahan!). Then there was Valentine's Day, which I spent with the people I love most in my life. Made enough goodies for all of them to get stuffed on to the point of passing out! All in all, I think I did justice to all three.

So you understand why this post is a little late, yes? Hopefully all of you were too busy this weekend to notice! Did you have the Valentine's Day of your dreams? Did you call your Canadian relatives (c'mon, everyone's got at least one) and send some love their way? And most importantly, did you hit the motherload at your nearest outlet mall?!

Today is my last post for the Valentine's Week cooking spree that I was on. DH gave me one helluva compliment on this pasta. I believe his words were, "This is something I would pay good money for in a fancy restaurant". At least, that's what I think he said. It was mostly gibberish because his mouth was full when he said it. But I'm sure it was a compliment, because he was very sad when we were finished our meal. As was I. This pasta is really something I should make more often!

Sweet & Hot Chicken Pasta (because isn't that what we all want? Some sweet 'n hot lovin' from our Valentine?)
Serves 6

1 box of penne or rigatoni pasta (uncooked)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 chicken breast halves (skinless & boneless, cut into bite-size pieces)
2 tbsp white/red wine/balsamic vinegar
1 mango (peeled, seeded and cubed)
2 large onions, sliced
1 green bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 red bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 jalapeno/serrano pepper, chopped
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how hot you want this)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to pass around)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish


1. Marinate the chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne, vinegar (and really any other spices you feel like throwing in that day - sometimes I use allspice or dry mustard) for 30 mins.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat, then brown the chicken pieces for 10 mins. Take them out and keep them aside.

3. Add in the rest of the olive oil and reduce the heat to medium. Add in the sliced onions and peppers. Let them soften. Then mix in the garlic, mango (DON'T get the canned stuff) and jalapeno pepper. Continue to cook and stir for 5 mins, or until the mango is soft. Add back the chicken.
4. Gradually mix in the heavy cream, cook 5-10 more minutes, until sauce is thickened.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook per the package instructions. Drain (keeping a cup of the pasta water aside) and add the pasta straight into the skillet with the sauce.

6. Mix well, along with the parmesan cheese, adding more salt and pepper as you go along (don't be afraid of a lot of seasoning; this needs it). You can add more cayenne if it needs more heat. A few sprinkles of sugar, or some apple juice can also be added if you want it a bit sweeter. This is a very accomodating sauce!

7. Once the sauce is seasoned enough to your liking, and is thick enough to cover all the pasta (if it's too thick, just add some of the pasta water you saved), it's ready to be garnished with parsley and more parmesan.
This pasta is such a crowd-pleaser. I have to give it some credit and send it right over to Ruth at Once Upon A Feast (I just love her blog's name, don't you?!) for a rather special round-up of Presto Pasta Nights. It's their TWO-year anniversary *confetti, balloons, applause*!

Y'know, even though DH refuses to celebrate Valentine's Day because he thinks it's all a commercial scam, and he instinctively rebels when he feels he is being ordered to be romantic on a certain day, he always surprises me by doing something special. Every year he will rant and rave against Valentine's Day, but every year (and every day really) he gives me a reason to smile and want to squeeze him to pieces! Nothing big, but it's the small gestures that matter. One of the many things that really make my heart brim over with WUV for him, is that he gets me. He gets me! And he wuvs me right back because of it (not despite it)! Sounds silly, but it's essential for a successful relationship, folks. That's the rare trait we should all look for in our significant other. Don't settle for anything less!


NKP said...

Beautiful place setting!
I love pasta, what a great dish.
We were happy to have our new holiday here in Canada, those of us who weren't ranting about it..(someone always has to complain about something..or what would they put on the news?)
We don't have the sales that you guys do though - maybe in the future!

Anonymous said...

Great colors from those veggies too!

Anonymous said...

I love the sweet and spicy flavors of this pasta dish! Yum!

amna said...

Those chicken chunks look yummy!

aleta meadowlark said...

Whoa-ho-hoah! That sounds so amazingly excellent, I wish I hadn't had dinner yet!

Creative Classroom Core said...

Wow! This recipe really sounds great! So creative and tasty sounding! I bookmarking it to make ASAP!!! Thanks for sharing! Yum!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous dish any time of the year. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Anonymous said...

I made this pasta last night & It was wonderfully yummie:)!!! I had never tried mango in a savoury dish before, so thanks!!!

Muneeba said...

Oh I'm so glad it turned out well for you Sophie!! Thank YOU for giving it a shot :)