Friday, August 17, 2012

My Meat 'n Potatoes Guy

When Ian told me earlier this week that he had in mind to cook dinner for me tonight, I must admit, I was a little... skeptical. He's texted me pictures of sauteed asparagus, skillet-cooked steak, and veggie-filled salads, but we're talking about a hardcore meat-and-potatoes guy here. I thought surely an Ian-style meal was in order. I was in for a delightfully pleasant surprise!

When I began clean-eating, I couldn't understand why the hell Ian wasn't interested in quinoa bowls or sweet potato fries. My mind immediately catastrophized our relationship: What if we never agree on healthy meals when we're married?! If he doesn't eat Chobani, what the f$%# will be for breakfast?? We so obviously do not have a future because he buys one-percent milk!!!

Ian texted me on Wednesday: How does creamy chicken with noodles along with salad sound for Friday evening?
My first few thoughts on the matter? (1) The recipe probably calls for heavy whipping cream. (2) It's gonna be a really carb-y meal. (2.5) Is this really going to happen, or will we end up at Taco Bell?
My actual response: Whatever you want to cook :)
I knew that if I made suggestions or tried to alter the recipe in any way, I'd curb his enthusiasm about cooking for me for the first time. Every diet deserves a little wiggle room, right? Besides, I'm a sucker for a romantic gesture.

I arrived at his apartment this afternoon, and he was already stoked about cooking dinner. At 3:30 p.m. So of course, I started to get excited, too. I didn't even read the recipe; I borrowed Ian's laptop to do some Facebook stalking -- in case you're unaware, I'm Facebook-free -- and I pulled up a bar stool while Ian did his chef thang.
I must say, I was quite impressed. Ian whipped up dinner in about 20 minutes. It was absolutely delicious, filling, and surprisingly health-conscious. Not only did Ian carefully consider my diet in his meal selection, he noted items my family and I stock and cook (e.g. egg noodles and skim milk). I may not be the only emerging cook in this relationship! ;)

In case you're interested in concocting Ian's dinner, here's what you'll need:
2 (7-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces egg noodles
2 ounces frozen spinach
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1. Rinse the chicken breasts under cold, running water. Pat dry and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook the noodles according to package directions; drain. Defrost the frozen spinach in boiling water or in the microwave on high heat for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water with a paper towel.
2. In a small, resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the flour, the salt, the pepper, and the dried parsley. Add chicken, seal the bag, and shake.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan. Add the chicken and cook on medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove from the pan.
4. Melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of flour. Cook on low heat for 3 minutes, continually stirring. Gradually whisk in the milk. Whisk in the cheese, stirring until thickened. Stir in the paprika. Stir in the spinach. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Pour the sauce over chicken and noodles.
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