Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Simple Valentine's Celebration

The husband and I are simple. We live in a small house that sits on less than an acre. I drive a car that was made almost 10 years ago. Sometimes we spend the whole afternoon watching college basketball games in our living room. Does that sound simple to you? 
Simple adjective, noun not elaborate or artificial; sincere

Our three-bedroom home has a view of the mountains that I never get tired of looking at. My car has more than 100,000 miles on it and it gets me to and from the best job I've ever had every week. And we look forward to putting on our orange every Saturday and camping out on the couch in the comfort of our living room. We're simple. 

So when it comes to Valentine's Day, we like to keep things quiet. We didn't plan a big dinner out or buy each other expensive gifts. Instead, we bought each other cards. The husband bought me a CD I've been wanting, and I bought him a box of disgusting sour candies he likes and made him a special dessert. Dinner was special for both of us. 

The husband and I have loved Chicken Riggies for years, but I never had the courage to make the dish. I was always afraid I'd end up with pasta, chicken, peppers and tomato sauce; it'd be good, but it wouldn't be the Chicken Riggies we learned to love in New York. But I took a chance tonight, and it was worth the risk. 

The husband took a couple of bites of dinner before I did and immediately let me know dinner was really good. I believed him when he didn't reach for the red pepper flakes - not even once! I had worried our Chicken Riggies wouldn't be spicy enough - or that one bite would be hot and the next would just be sweet. But as the husband supportively pointed out, the dish had a nice consistent heat. And it was so simple to put together. The sauce was actually ready before the rigatoni. I had to turn the sauce down to low and let it rest and wait for the pasta. Overall, this recipe is a definite keeper in our book. 

Chicken Riggies
Adapted from
Serves 3

1/2 lb rigatoni pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper, a dash of each
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 large roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup hot banana peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon juice from the banana peppers (or more)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half

Put a pot of water on for the pasta. In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant. When the pasta water begins to boil, add the pasta and cook.

Add the roasted red pepper to the onion and garlic skillet; cook for another minute. Add the banana peppers, juice and tomato sauce. Simmer. If the sauce is too thick, add more juice from the jar of banana peppers, or spoon some of the pasta water into the tomato sauce.

Stir in the half-and-half and chicken. Add the drained pasta to the skillet, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until well mixed and the chicken is warmed.

And now it's time for dessert. I made the husband cannoli. In case you don't understand the importance of this, I made the husband Arthur Avenue cannoli. This dessert marks another first for me, and, again, I was a little nervous to take on such a task. You see, deep-frying isn't something I do - ever. Aside from the health reasons I don't usually serve deep-fried food in this house, I'm afraid of hot oil. How much is too much oil? What if it isn't hot enough? What if it's too hot? But I faced my fears, and I think I just made this Valentine's Day at home the best one yet. 

This classic dessert was a sweet and simple way to end the evening. And we couldn't be happier. 

1 comment:

  1. Your cannoli look fantastic. So does the rigatoni. Happy Valentine's Day!

    My Hubby and I are pretty simple folk too. He took me out for breakfast at our neighborhood "dive," which is cheap but heavenly, just like they're supposed to be. Now we'll just enjoy the rest of the day as a family.


Thanks for taking the time out of your day to show my space a little love.


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