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Penne Rustica

I do not know what happened to December.  No way did I intend to not do one post!  But there you have it.  I hope your holiday was wonderful.  We got what we wanted -- a new grandbaby on December 5th!  I spent a couple weeks helping out, and then one frenzied week trying to get ready for Christmas, and then one collapsed week recovering from the frenzied week, and now, somehow, it's January 5th.  By the way, I read in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens (page 119 if you don't believe me) that "January 5 is the most stressful day of the year, according to a British survey of 2,000 people."  Makes you wonder about British surveys, doesn't it?  Somehow, I don't think I'd necessarily pick January 5th as an overwhelmingly stressful day -- I mean, why not the 3rd or the 10th?  I'm just sayin'.  Sooo, back to Penne Rustica.  I may not have been blogging in December, but I'll tell you what, I was eating!  And I ate some great stuff, including this recipe, which I had at a party and immediately asked for the recipe.  The party was on December 19th and I've already made it twice since then, that's how yummy it is.  It is not, however, low calorie, so if you've made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, I'd suggest skipping this recipe until Valentine's Day or you give up on the resolution, whichever comes first :).  I picked Valentine's Day because it would make a very romantic dinner entree.  Frankly, I don't think I can wait that long!

Penne Rustica

Gratinata Sauce:
1 tsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 Cup Marsala cooking wine (you can find this in most grocery stores by the vinegars)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Cups heavy cream (I told you it wasn't low calorie)

Saute butter, garlic and rosemary together until garlic begins to brown.  Add Marsala wine, bring to simmer and reduce by 1/3.  Add remaining ingredients, bring back to simmer and reduce by 1/2, stirring often.  Be careful not to scorch.  Set aside.

1 pkg (16 oz) Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne, cooked, rinsed, and drained
2 - 4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled and chopped
3/4 stick (6 Tbsp) butter
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 - 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Gratinata Sauce
1/2 Cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 sun-dried tomato halves (the dehydrated kind, not in oil -- you don't really need more oil ;), diced

Cook the bacon.  Remove from pan and clean grease from pan.  Saute chicken pieces in butter until cooked through.  Add shrimp and cook just until pink.  Add salt, pepper, Gratinata Sauce and 1/4 Cup of the grated parmesan cheese and simmer until thickened.  In large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken mixture with cooked pasta, chopped bacon and diced sun-dried tomatoes.  Place in 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Top with remaining 1/4 Cup parmesan cheese and sprinkle lightly with paprika.  Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately.  

A 9x13 casserole feeds 8-12 people, since it's so rich.  I have found that trying to reheat leftovers, either in the oven or in the microwave, causes the cream to separate.  I just mop up the resulting oil with a paper towel and figure I'm now eating a lower fat version that still tastes great.  If you discover a way to reheat it without the separation, please let me know and I'll add it to this post!   

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