Honor your mother with a special meal

FETTUCCINE WITH CHICKEN and SPINACH IN CREAM SAUCE
  • FETTUCCINE WITH CHICKEN and SPINACH IN CREAM SAUCE

    6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

    2 Tbsp. butter

    2 slices bacon, chopped

    1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

    1 large yellow bell pepper, ...

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  • FETTUCCINE WITH CHICKEN and SPINACH IN CREAM SAUCE

    6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

    2 Tbsp. butter

    2 slices bacon, chopped

    1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

    1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

    1 small red onion, chopped

    4 garlic cloves, minced

    1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper

    1 cup whipping cream

    1 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

    1 dash hot sauce

    3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil or 3Tbsp. basil pesto

    1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

    8 oz. fettuccine

    Additional grated Parmesan cheese

    Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until brown on both sides, about five minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and slice after chicken is cooled. Add bacon to skillet and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add bell peppers and onion to same skillet and saute until crisp-tender, about five minutes. Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and saute four minutes. Add whipping cream and chicken stock. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Sauce should coat back of wooden spoon.

    Add cut chicken to sauce. Simmer while adding basil and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to sauce, stirring to incorporate. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce.

    Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain and return to pot. Add sauce and toss to coat. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

    POUND CAKE with BLUEBERRY SYRUP

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/2 tsp. baking powder

    1/4 tsp. salt

    2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

    11/2 cups sugar

    3 large eggs, at room temperature

    2 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest

    1 tsp. vanilla

    1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

    BLUEBERRY SYRUP3/4 cup water

    1/2 cup sugar

    4 tsp. dried edible lavender flowers

    2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

    10 oz. blueberries (1 pt)

    9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour loaf pan, knocking out excess flour.

    Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in zest and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour and mixing until just incorporated.

    Spoon batter into loaf pan and bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out with crumbs adhering, one to one hour and 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

    BLUEBERRY SYRUP: Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and drop in dried lavender, steep 30 minutes for dried lavender. Pour syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding lavender. Stir in lemon juice and blueberries.

    Spoon berries and syrup over slices of cake just before serving.

    Adapted from epicurious.com

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

I was on my way home several weeks ago and began to think about my upcoming new role as a mother with an empty nest.

I had stopped at an intersection near my house because of a miniature parade of pre-schoolers crossing in front of me. They had their hands crossed neatly behind them so as not to accidentally touch or aggravate other nearby children and were marching in an orderly single-file line.

I live across the street from our neighborhood school, Trinity Episcopal, and the school children were probably on their way to lunch. I recognized some of the children as smaller-appearing versions of their parents.

My mind skipped (as a 48-year-old mind will often do) to a time not so long ago, when my own children crossed that same street with their small, chubby hands clasped behind them. Those were the days that I thought would never end, but one day at a time, they have slipped by.

I have only one child left at home. Spencer is a senior and about to graduate from St. Joseph High School (more on that another time). He will go to college in about three more months and leave me without someone to directly mother in close proximity. This is a new role for me, and not necessarily one I am looking forward to, since I have been actively managing children for about 22 years.

Once they go off to college, they call, especially if they need a little money, but for the most part, they are out of sight and out of mind. You can only hope they are behaving and making wise use of their time.

There is really nothing like being a mother. That first moment you set eyes on your new baby, newly delivered, squalling and squirming, and red and wrinkled from their watery home of nine months, you immediately develop this intense bond of love and a sense of wonderment and miracle of the little stranger. It's like nothing you have ever experienced before.

I remember feeling like I already knew Miles, my first little present, even though I first saw him that September morning. It was just so intensely delightful. I had felt his kicks and jumps for many months while I carried him with me everywhere I went. I grew fat in hopes that he would be healthy (or maybe I just had too many Dr Peppers and Dairy Queen Blizzards) and finally when he came into the world in all his naked glory, I welcomed him into my arms with a deeper love than I knew existed.

It was an unforgettable moment, and I have been blessed to experience three of those in my lifetime. Miles was followed 16 months later by Hannah, then we had two totally helpless, but supremely huggable creatures to contend with.

I never stopped to wonder if they were too close in age. I was simply busy mothering and took each day as it was.

Miles gave up his bottle long before his sister entered the world, but decided that since Hannah was having a "ba ba" he should have one also. Taylor and I pled with him for months, trying to convince him that he was too old to have a bottle.

My friends reasoned that if a child could ask you to fill their bottle with Dr Pepper, they were indeed old enough to break the baby bottle habit.

I would have liked for them to have stayed babies forever, even though I know now that each stage of childhood has its highlights.

We lived in a world where mom and dad were the center of their universe, but I knew in the back of my mind, that one day that would change.

In the end, Miles and Hannah gave up their bottles around the same time. Life moved quickly in those days of parenting. "Don't do this . don't do that . don't play in the street . don't talk to strangers . say thank you . don't chew with your mouth open . put your napkin in your lap . listen to me when I am talking to you."

When Miles was 5 and Hannah 4, their baby brother Spencer was born. Miles and Hannah loved their new brother and were delightfully amused by him. If they would sit on the couch, they could hold him, "but don't carry him." and one of us would be at arms length.

They were beyond the jealously stage, and were simply interested in taking care of him, at least most of the time. Spencer was all boy. He made guns out of sticks, played in mud and could not stay clean for five minutes. He never walked, he ran.

Hannah became the little mother of the boys, making sure they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I could hear her "mommy voice" calling them down and corralling them when they were too loud. Hannah's brothers listened to her since her ability to reason was a gift she acquired early in life.

Taylor and I stayed busy with our young family doing what young parents do . surviving and trying their best to get this parenting thing right.

As I look back now, those years of mothering are a blur. My time was spent picking up toys from every corner of our house, chasing down library books and making sure back packs had homework for the next day.

Suppers were a feeding frenzy wedged in between T-ball and ballet. I never gave a thought to a day when my table would be set for just two. I remember going to bed exhausted and waking up feeling as if I never went to sleep. I recall during those teenage years of waiting up until they came home, and sheer relief that they were tucked into their own beds and safe from harm.

Some may say that being a mother is a thankless job. I disagree. I have only to look at the fruits of my efforts and see those three beautiful children. I have tried to do my best, and hope that one day they will experience the joy of raising children.

Mother's Day is a day to honor one of the most important people in our life. A meal prepared in mom's honor is a welcome gift.

This delicious fettuccine is colorful and can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for a noon meal. Complete the feast with pound cake served with blueberry sauce. Don't forget to clean up the kitchen so mom can rest.

Enjoy!

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.