Why, hello.  It appears I haven’t posted anything for, um, four months.  Oops.  Well, I have any excuse.  I planted a garden–the first full-size garden I’ve ever planted by myself–with pumpkins, brussels sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, and three kinds of tomatoes.  And 21 pepper plants (my husband really, really likes peppers).  And mini sunflowers.  I didn’t start planting until June, so it will probably be a small miracle if anything but the sunflowers comes up, but the snow didn’t melt until May around here, so give me a break.  Anyway, gardens demand lots of time and work and attention, which is why I didn’t write anything at all during, um, March and April.  Yeah.

Oh, right.  I almost forgot.  I had a baby too.  She’s beautiful and sweet and thinks she’s the center of the universe, and since I happen to agree, not much has been accomplished around here of late, including the writing of blog posts.

I think this recipe is more than worthy of posting, though, despite the baby sleeping in my lap and the garden gasping for more… water… outside the dining room window.  My husband and I selected chicken piccata as the main dish at our wedding reception.  There may have been another entree option, but if there was, I can’t remember it because the chicken piccata was just so amazing–golden brown, lightly breaded chicken bathed in a tangy lemon-wine sauce, basking on a bed of delicate angel hair pasta, with a garnish of salty capers and tender artichoke hearts.  Oh. Yum.

In celebration of four years of wedded bless, I made this dish last week.  It was the first real cooking I’d done in the six weeks since our daughter’s birth, and it turned out perfectly.  Pair with a nice salad and a glass of white wine, and you’ll have a meal fit for a king.  Or a couple celebrating their anniversary.  Or a gardener discovering that those ten-year-old seeds actually did come up.  Just make it.

IMG_1166Chicken Piccata (based on this recipe)
Time:  30 minutes
Serves 4

2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 small or 1 large lemon)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups; I prefer water-packed)
1/4 cup drained capers
angel hair pasta

Using a long, sharp knife, carefully cut each chicken breast in half horizontally (so it’s the same size but half as thick). Place chicken in a zip-top bag and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until 1/4-inch thick. In a bowl, combine flour, lemon zest, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste. Add to bag with chicken; seal and shake well to coat.

Heat 1-2 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through, adding 1-2 T. oil as needed. Add lemon juice, wine and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. Add artichoke hearts and capers and simmer 1 minute to heat through.

Cook angel hair according to package directions. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

Note:  Occasionally I have trouble getting the sauce to thicken in time. If you want a thicker sauce, remove the chicken and cover it to keep it warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tsp. water and 1 tsp. cornstarch; add to the sauce. Continue simmering, stirring constantly with the wire whisk, until sauce thickens.

*You can also use 4 (4-ounce) chicken breast halves; just skip cutting them in half.

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