Bowties, Chicken, & Olives

My kids absolutely LOVE olives! Me, um, not so much. But everyone else in my family has loved this recipe from the moment I first made it over 10 years ago. My daughter STILL asks for it when I am taking requests for the upcoming week’s menu. Dijon mustard gives this a punch of flavor and I LOVE that I can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less.


8  ounces bowtie or penne pasta (or whatever pasta you have on hand)

1  tablespoon olive oil

1  1/2 pounds fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts or breast tenders, cut into cubes

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/4  teaspoon pepper

1/2  cup dry white wine

1/4  cup chicken broth

2  teaspoons dijon mustard

1  teaspoon cornstarch

1/3  cup+ pitted kalamata olives (I always use more)

1  14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

Parsley, fresh or dried


Cook pasta according to the package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until chicken is thoroughly cooked and the juices run clear. Remove chicken from the pan.

Whisk together the wine, chicken broth, mustard, and cornstarch. Add to pan, stir and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in olives and artichokes (trim tough ends if needed) and cook for another minute. Add chicken and drained, cooked pasta to the pan. Cook until warm. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


Adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes, 2004



Eggplant Stacks

When making a batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs (see post here) for the rest of the family, I used to struggle to find something complimentary for me to eat instead of the meatballs (one happy vegetarian here!). Then I discovered that by broiling thin slices of eggplant, they will cook quickly and to the desired softness for these delicious little eggplant stacks. We love these so much, that sometimes they stand alone for dinner with a small side salad or some delicious bread. Feel free to experiment by adding some fresh spinach, parmesan cheese, or fresh basil to your stacks. 


1  eggplant, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Spaghetti sauce (homemade or your favorite jar)

Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Spinach, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, if desired


Set the broiler on HIGH and leave the oven door open slightly. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spread the eggplant out in a single layer. Brush both sides with olive oil and broil for 4 to 6 minutes on EACH SIDE until lightly browned and the inside of the eggplant is soft (oven temperatures very, so please watch carefully).

Warm the spaghetti sauce in a small saucepan or microwave. Starting with a large slice of eggplant, spread a couple tablespoons of the sauce in a circle under the slice. Spoon more sauce on top and then add sliced mozzarella (spinach and/or fresh basil too, if desired). Using a slightly smaller slice with each layer, create stacks of eggplant, sauce, and cheese until there are 3-4 eggplant slices per stack. Continue until all the eggplant has been stacked. Return the pan to the broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.




Mandarin Spinach Salad

I had almost completely forgotten about this amazing salad! I didn’t even remember what it tasted like, but just one bite reminded me why everyone LOVES this salad. If you take it to a picnic or gathering, leave off the dressing until right before serving to keep the spinach from getting too wilted. I don’t put any celery in mine and have reduced the sugar by half of what the original recipe called for and it’s simply delicious! NOTE: I have adjusted the main ingredients to make a salad for 4, but the dressing ingredients are for a salad that serves 8. So the dressing makes enough for at least 2 salads and the main ingredients can be doubled to serve more. Happy Labor Day weekend USA peeps!

5  cups torn spinach

1  (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges

2  green onions, chopped

1/4-1/2  cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/8  cup chopped celery, if desired

For the dressing:

2/3  cup vegetable oil

1/4  cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup vinegar

1  tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

1  teaspoon prepared mustard

1/2  teaspoon salt


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a salad bowl and toss gently. If you have time, cover and chill.

Combine oil and remaining dressing ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly, shake vigorously and drizzle over the salad just before serving. Salad serves 4, dressing will be enough for at least 2 salads.


Adapted from Southern Living’s Five-Star Recipe Collection, 1990