A Dinner Recipe When The Simple Seems Hard
It seems like such a basic thing, making dinner. Some days it is basic, and there are other days when a recipe looks like it’s written in a different language. Life gets tricky – kids require attention, faucets break, we get sick, people hurt us, work gets overwhelming, and on and on. I spent much of the past week in bed sick. Sick of heart, and sick in body; exhausted by the harshness of life.
I’m a cook. People know that about me. Friends ask me for recipes and tips… and food. Typically, I can spout off all sorts of helpful information and even whip up any various and sundry plate of culinary delight. But lately I’ve been lucky to remember to order enough chili cheese burritos at Taco Bell for the members of my household, with zero chance of being able to prepare a meal.
The faucet at my kitchen sink broke. This means I had no running water in the kitchen (See how that works?). I was determined to cook a meal for my family, and I wasn’t going to let a silly thing like the absence of water stop me. I have a rolling catalogue of recipes in my head. Sometimes those recipes are buried under piles of useless information, but one wriggled its way up to the surface and caused my kids to remember that I actually do know where the stove is in our house.
I heated up the olive oil, chopped my veggies, ran my pasta water (from the bath tub) and was on my way to a lovely plate of Pepperoni Chicken. Make this.
What you need: stock pot, cutting board, knife, large skillet
- 1 box penne pasta
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut to bite sized pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
- 1 package of pepperoni, cut up or not… I like mine cut, you may not
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can sliced black olives
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- ½ Cup shredded parmesan
Start heating up 3 cups of water in your stock pot over high heat. Salt the water so that it’s salty like the sea, and drizzle in just a bit of olive oil.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Dice the peppers and onions up and toss them in, along with the garlic and black olives. Stir these guys around a bit. By now, your water for the pasta should be boiling, so pour the penne into the water and reduce the heat to medium high. Let that cook for about 15 minutes, then drain the water off. (The tasty goodness is just beginning to heat up in that skillet next to the boiling pasta – get ready.)
Get the chicken and pepperoni cut up and added to the party with the veggies. Every three or four minutes turn your chicken over to be sure it’s getting brownish on all sides. After a few turns, 10-12 minutes, pour the tomatoes in. When all of the ingredients have been added, let them simmer for about 5 minutes to get warmed up and friendly with each other. Your pasta should be drained and waiting by now, so pour the veggies and meat right into that stock pot holding the penne, add parmesan, and stir them all together. And then serve it up and remind your family (and yourself) that you are, in fact, a rock star in the kitchen.
So, yeah, life gets hard. Trials are many and hurts are deep. But the Lord does not fail. His grace is sufficient, and His plans are for good. By His strength I can, you can, continue on, in faith.
Even if it’s just a whisper, speak the words found in Psalm 13. Understanding and accepting the feelings of desperation and brokenness, but still ending at a place of rejoicing in the Salvation of The Lord.
“How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, My God. Light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt bountifully with me.”