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Does dinner ever feel boring to you? Some nights I feel like it's a lot of work to make dinner, set the table, sit down, and eat our meal at the same table night after night. Usually the only time we switch things up is when we have friends over or throw a party. Sometimes I wish dinner was a little more exciting.
I used some pointers I received over the years from eating at my friend Danielle's house. She has a large Italian family and dinner at her house meant food, family, and more food. I knew to come hungry because whenever I was finished eating I was encouraged to try something else. There was always plenty of pasta, fresh salads, and crusty bread. Since pasta is my favorite meal I always enjoyed it.
I went to my local Kroger store to shop for our dinner. I started with the main course which would be pasta. While I often make pasta myself, I wanted this dinner to be more about eating and enjoying good food then me being in the kitchen for hours. I went to the frozen food section and found that Bertolli had a ton of delicious Italian entrees. The Bertolli Classic Meals are designed for 2 people which was perfect for my husband and I.
After perusing the selection I chose both the Bertolli Chicken Margherita and the Bertolli Chicken Florentine and Farfalle. I figured we could have one tonight and one another night. They cook up in just 12 minutes which was all the time I needed to make a few quick side dishes.
I quickly made my way over to the produce section and just about swooned when I saw the blood oranges. I picked up a bag along with some lettuce and carrots to make a fresh salad with blood orange vinaigrette. Then I made my way to the bakery to pick up a loaf of Italian bread. I had plans to make my easy and delicious cheesy pull apart bread.
When I got home I was super excited to see that our sun porch was up to 65 degrees. After seeing 30 inches of snow last week I thought it would be a welcome change to have dinner out on the porch. I quickly set the table with a fun checkered table runner and our "fancy" white napkins. I put out wine glasses and plates and then went into the kitchen to cook.
I poured the Bertolli Chicken Margherita into a large skillet, put the lid on, and then went to work on the bread. I've made the homemade pull apart bread before and while it's tasty, it takes forever to make. This version simply take a loaf of Italian bread, cuts it in half, brushes it with garlic butter, and places mozzarella cheese and spices in between each slice. That's it! I popped it into the oven and check on the pasta.
Then I got to work on the salad. I added some cheese, almonds, blood oranges, and veggies and then whipped up a quick blood orange vinaigrette. I took the salads and dressing outside, poured the wine into the wine glasses, then hurried back inside to get the pasta and the bread. I put the pasta into a large serving bowl and the bread onto a platter then told my husband dinner was ready.
He was really surprised when he realized we were eating out on the porch in February! After seeing that it was 65 degrees on the porch he agreed it was a great idea and a nice way to get a little sun. It was nice being able to serve ourselves from the table instead of running into the kitchen and we were able to relax and enjoy our dinner.
It was a wonderful way to relax after a crazy day and only took about 20 minutes to get everything cooked and on the table. It was nice to not just eat but to Mangia. Our tasty Italian meal ended with us sipping our wine and talking about our day. We spent more time together enjoying our meal and less time prepping the meal. It was a fun night that we were able to share together.
- 1 loaf Italian bread
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ t. salt
- ½ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the loaf of Italian bread in half. Slice one half down the middle lengthwise. Then slice the bread into 1 inch pieces.
- Grab a loaf pan and place the pieces of bread in the pan so that they are standing up. Put as many pieces in the pan that will fit without squishing any in the pan. I was able to fit 12 pieces in the pan.
- Combine the butter, garlic, and salt in a small dish. Using a basting brush or something similiar, brush both sides of each slice of bread with the garlic butter.
- Combine the mozzarella cheese with the Italian seasonings. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture in between each of the bread slices.
- Put the bread in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. The bread should be crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside and the cheese should be melted.
- Remove from oven and transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.