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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Taste-bud Journey: Garden Rotini with Marsala Chicken & Veggies

During the pandemic, I am taking taste-bud journeys as I self-isolate rather than physical journeys. Here is my made-up recipe for Garden Rotini with Marsala Chicken & Veggies. I had some leftover water chestnuts and mushrooms that I needed to use-up and two newish kitchen toys to experiment with. And the rest is taste-bud history. Lol!

Please note that this recipe made one very large serving that I personally divided into two meals. With the onset of the pandemic and my more sedentary lifestyle of "sheltering at home," I have found my appetite greatly diminished. 

  • I only used 1/4 cup of pasta in this recipe due to personal preference.
  • With the addition of a greater amount of pasta, this meal could easily have made two or more regular- to large-size servings.
  • Due to the risk of taste-bud boredom (Lol!) , I would rather not have too many leftovers of the same food item. Thus, since I live alone, I strive to make smaller-size portions.


  • Canned Squash with Vidalia Onions made by Margaret Homes and sold by Walmart, Publix, and Amazon (including juice)
  • Most of a can of mushrooms (including juice)
  • Most of a can of water chestnuts (including juice)
  • A few frozen Pearl Onions
  • A few frozen Cut Green Beans
  • A few Tyson Grilled & Ready Pre-Cooked Chicken Breast Strips
  • 1/4 cup Marsala Cooking Wine
  • 1/8 cup of dried Onion flakes
  • 1/8 cup of dried Celery flakes
  • 1/4 cup (or more) of Garden Rotini or pasta of your choice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1/4 tbsp of butter or margarine
  • Optional: Sesame seeds as a garnish
  • Optional: French's Original Crispy Fried Onions and/or Crispy Red Peppers

Please note: You could certainly add or substitute other veggies and/or spices. This was simply items I had on hand and personal taste-bud preference, on my part.

Please also note: Since I intended to steam this recipe in my microwave, I did not drain the canned veggies. Instead, I used the juice from the cans of yellow squash, mushrooms, and water chestnuts instead of water in the bottom of the steamer. I topped that off with 1/4 cup of the Marsala Cooking Wine to infuse this recipe with further tastiness.



  • Step 1: Pour up to 2 cups of water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. If you intend to add in more than 1/4 cup of pasta, follow the directions on the box as to the recommended amount of water to use.

  • Step 2: Pour in the 1/4 cup (or more) of Garden Rotini (or other pasta of choice) and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 9 minutes or until pasta is tender.

  • Step 3: Drain the pasta into an appropriate-size bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside in the refrigerator.

  • Step 4: Chop up veggies and chicken to the desired size. Since I wanted to have them all in each bite I took of the finished product, I chopped them until they ranged in size from a dime to a nickel. 
  • Step 5: In a microwave steamer, add the following ingredients:
    1. Pearl Onions
    2. Canned squash. 
    3. Canned mushrooms
    4. Canned water chestnuts
    5. Canned or frozen green beans
    6. Thawed from frozen chicken strips or use of leftover chicken you might have on hand
    7. Add in any other vegetable you might desire.
    8. Instead of water in the bottom of the steamer, use the juice from any canned goods you added. In my case, it was the juice from the canned mushrooms, squash, and water chestnuts.

  • Step 6: In a measuring cup, pour in 1/4 cup of Marsala Cooking Wine. Into that mixture, stir in 1/8 cup of dried onion flakes, 1/8 cup of dried celery flakes, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you enjoy the taste of black pepper, you could also add in a pinch of that.

  • Step 7: Pour that cooking wine mixture over the food in the microwave steamer basket. Stir the ingredients together to thoroughly mix in the spices.
  • Step 8: Close the steamer and microwave this mixture for 12 minutes.
  • Step 9: Remove the steamer from the microwave. Empty the basket of food into the bottom of the steamer so that it has a chance to marinate in the wine and veggies juice mixture. Then, add in the pasta you made previously. Stir all these ingredients together. Cover the steamer once again and place this in the refrigerator to marinate for thirty minutes to an hour (or longer).

  • Step 10: When you are ready to eat, place the steamer back in the microwave and heat your recipe for 2 1/2 minutes.
  • Step 11: Remove the steamer from the microwave and plate your food. Optionally, you can add sesame seeds, crispy fried onions, and/or crispy red peppers as a garnish.
  • Step 12: Eat and enjoy!

Please note: Given that I was not very hungry at the time, I had a ton of leftovers. I placed all those leftovers back in the steamer along with the Marsala cooking wine mixture so it could continue to marinate overnight.


Please also note: The next day, I placed the entire mixture in my electric kitchen skillet. I allowed it to cook until the liquid was entirely absorbed (about 10 minutes). Then, to I decided to conduct a taste-test.


  • I divided the leftovers into three portions:
  • Portion 1: No additional garnish was added.
  • Portion 2: It was garnished with fried onions.
  • Portion 3: It was garnished with fried red peppers.

  • To my taste buds, portion 1 was somewhat tasty but a bit lacking.
  • Portion 2 was quite tasty, as was Portion 3.
  • I finally decided to mix it altogether so that I ate what was left with both the fried onions and the fried red peppers. 
  • To my taste buds, every bite was delicious after that.
  • Should I decide to make this recipe in the future, I will cook it in the steamer. Then, finish it off in the electric grill. And I will definitely garnish it with fried onions and red peppers to add a bit of crunch and extra flavor to my meal.

Cooking Sites that have inspired me:

Books written by Debbie Dunn:

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