Finished meal of chicken and pasta, broiled tomato caprese.

Fixing a meal quickly can be done, but it is not my preference.

Today was just one of those days when groceries were being delivered sooner than expected and I had about 45 minutes to prepare a meal of my husband Russ’ choosing. Shortcuts were necessary. So, I didn’t take notes on quantities in order to give you precise amounts. I used what I had available, and with ingredients I knew he’d eat.

But before I tell how I made it, I need to vent. If anyone ever asks me about what I disliked intensely during the months of Coronvirus fears, other than the expected answers such as socializing and getting my hair done, I would say it’s being so concerned about keeping my husband and I safe, that I didn’t do my own grocery shopping. I am one of those rare (apparently, as my friends have noted to me) people who enjoy grocery shopping. If the watermelon isn’t the right color, the cantelope mushy, or the romaine lettuce spines are ribbed in pink, I am not buying them. I’d do without first. I’m just as choosy about meats, poultry, or cheeses.

I recognize I am blessed to be able to afford groceries and to have a service like Instacart do it for me, but shouldn’t the shoppers want to follow the same principles I do as a psychic entertainer: strive to exceed expectations? I have had two Instacart deliveries in a row where items were substituted even against my stated texted orders not to, or the products delivered would never have made it to my cart because of the condition of the goods. I did report to Instacart some of my unhappiness that the shopper not only replaced two bottles of inexpensive wine with two much more expensive wines against my stated preferences (as if there aren’t many comparably-priced quality wines to the brand we’d selected), but she also brought me rotting romaine that obviously should have never appeared on the grocer’s shelf. Of course, I reported said infractions even though I don’t anticipate hearing from Instacart. I have read plenty about their lack of customer service.  I’d love to hear about your experiences with having shoppers.

Ingredients for the Quickie Italian chicken and pasta dish as well as the tomatoes to be broiled ala caprese.

Back to the recipe. Russ wanted Piccata-ish chicken cut up and integrated into a lemon-butter sauced angel hair pasta. I opted to add some tomatoes as a side dish instead of a salad because I was out of lettuce and most veggies. (Remember, I am just improvising as I go, so nothing is measured.


Two panko-coated chicken breasts

angel hair pasta

minced garlic

chopped red onion (because I had a partial one and wanted to finish it)

chopped spinach


olive oil (enough for the saute pan)


lemon juice

sliced tomatoes

chopped fresh basil

balsamic vinegar

aged Italian cheeses

salt & pepper to taste


Bake the panko-crusted chicken breasts. (Mine were frozen ones I bought for Russ to have a quick meal when I didn’t have time to do breaded chicken from scratch.) While the panko chicken breasts are baking, cook the angel hair pasta in salted water and drain well. Set aside. When the chicken is cooled, cut into chunks.

Raise the oven temperature to broil.

Slice the tomatoes and layer in a pan. Place under broiler until they just start to brown. Remove and add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, the chopped pieces of basil, and a smattering of cheese. Do not put back into oven yet.

Prep all the remaining ingredients.

Put enough olive oil in the bottom of the pan to coat over medium-high heat. When you can hear it sizzle, toss in the chopped onion. Give it a minute or two to soften and then toss in the garlic. Wait another minute or two and toss in drained capers.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the butter (depending on amount of pasta and whether you want a sauce or just a coating) and lemon juice. Stir til you have the amount of sauce/coating you want. Add the chicken chunks and pasta. Stir so all the ingredients are well mixed. Add in the spinach, salt and pepper.

Put the pan with the tomatoes back under broiler and be ready to finish the pasta. I always add some parmesan-romano cheese on top for the last stirs, but if you already have the Italian cheese out, you can opt to use that or even do without.

Here is where your taste really matters. More butter and lemon? More seasoning? More cheese?

There you have it. As ever, creativity matters. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2019 – 2020 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events.;;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady. Food photos for this series by Karen Kuzsel.