My Easiest Weeknight Dinner

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to cook and bake.  She'd spend hours reading recipe books like Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.   Getting lost in food blogs and aimlessly walking around Su La Table or William Sonoma were not unusual.  Spending hours in the kitchen was enjoyable and spending 4 hours making a buche de noel for a Christmas gathering was a way she showed she cared.  Then one fateful day that girl had a baby ... then another baby ... then triplets.  And that life in the kitchen became a distant past.

Now my reality is getting 3 babies fed, bottled and ready for bed while cooking dinner for the rest of the family.  I use that term 'cooking' loosely ... sometimes it's more of a 're-heating.'  I'm learning to perfect a few simple dishes that my family loves and take VERY little time to make (or clean up).  My favorite is Broccoli and Goat Cheese Pasta.  It's delicious, easy to make, and the kids always ask for seconds (score!).  I adapted this recipe from a dish I used to make pre-children frequently.  
My inspiration dish - Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus courtesy Martha Stewart

The original recipe, Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus, is from Martha Stewart and is seriously delicious.  But as simple as it is, I still don't want to deal with roasting the asparagus, especially when I have to battle my kids to eat it.  So here is my simpler 1-pot version:

Broccoli & Goat Cheese Pasta 1 Box of Curly Pasta (I prefer DeCecco Cavatappi, but any curly pasta will do - we've even used Rigatoni with great success)
Large head of broccoli
4.5 oz of goat cheese with herbs (OR use plain and add your own seasoning in - we've tried parsley, garlic or onion powder, pepper, thyme and rosemary mixed together - I just eyeball it so I don't have measurements, sorry!)
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, chopped (optional - if you add the chicken you'll want to add a bit more butter and goat cheese to properly coat the pasta).
1 tbsp of butter

1) Generously salt boiling water. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. 
2) While pasta is cooking chop the broccoli.  I chop it up so it's small enough for the kids to eat without me cutting it up again.
3) Set aside 1 1/2 cups pasta water; and with about 2 minutes left to cook the pasta toss in the chopped broccoli.
4) Cook for 2 minutes then drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot.
5) In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, and 3/4 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper (and/or seasonings of your choosing), and whisk until smooth. Add goat-cheese mixture to pasta; toss to combine, adding more pasta water if necessary for sauce to coat pasta.
If adding in cooked grilled chicken toss it in during the 5th step with the goat-cheese mixture.


Do you have any quick and easy dishes you enjoy cooking and the family also loves eating??  Please share in the comments!

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