Cranberry Goat Cheese and Rosemary Stuffed Chicken with a Cherry and Balsamic Reduction

….Long title, I know.

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I just got back from a week at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and I had a lot of leftover cranberry goat cheese that I got at Trader Joe’s on a pre-Thanksgiving special. My cousin came for dinner tonight and we were supposed to have grilled chicken, but something came over me and I didn’t feel like grilling tonight. So, I came up with this delicious stuffed chicken, served with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

The champagne mustard, cranberry goat cheese and rosemary combo is killer. Creamy, tangy, sweet. Add a drizzle of the cherry and balsamic reduction and you’re on your way to heaven.

Ingredients for the chicken(serves 2 very hungry people)

  • 2 chicken breasts, bonless (skin on or off)
  • 1 log of Cranberry goat cheese (I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. champagne mustard (could substitute Dijon)
  • Garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, onion powder, mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cherry and Balsamic reduction

Directions

Butterfly your chicken breasts. Marinate each chicken breast with a few shakes paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Rub around. Flip chicken and repeat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread a thin layer of champagne mustard onto both sides of the butterflied chicken. On one side, add a layer of cranberry goat cheese and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary.

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Drizzle with olive oil and close the chicken. Tie together with kitchen twine.

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Make the reduction. Don’t let it get too thick before the chicken is ready.

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Add a little olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the chicken until browned on both sides, about 7 minutes per side.

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Move the chicken breasts to an oiled (or buttered) baking dish. Bake the chicken for 15 – 20 minutes at 350°. Serve with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

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Thanksgiving dinner: Modernized

Turkey sliders with gouda and cranberry mayo served with real green bean casserole and chipotle sweet potato fries. My beverage of choice tonight is an apple pie martini (along with the usual wine – tonights wine is Clarksburg Wine Company’s Delta Blanc  – it is alright but not my favorite).

HOLY. SMOKES. This was absolutely fantabulously wonderful. The thyme in the turkey burgers was an ode to the stuffing flavors that are usually present at thanksgiving. The cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, and gouda were the perfect toppers for the burgers – creamy, tangy and sweet all at the same time.

You can really use any kind of bread – I would suggest a dinner role as representative for a Thanksgiving regular: buttered rolls.

I would also like to note that this is the best green bean casserole that I have ever consumed. Making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch really makes a 100% difference in creaminess and overall amazingness. I think it is super important to use haricot verts instead of regular ole green beans because of their thickness and crunchiness. I also added parmesan, because, let’s face it, everything’s better with parmesan…

A few other side notes:

  1. You can freeze green bean casserole. Just make sure to freeze the topping separately.
  2. These sliders would make a wonderful hors d’ouevres.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pound  ground white meat turkey
  • ½ tsp. each: ground thyme, paprika, and onion powder
  • 1 tsp. each: garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large tbsp. plain greek yogart
  • Cranberry Mayo
  • Caramelized onions (use 2 medium yellow onions)
  • 8 Dinner rolls
  • 1 bag Alexia’s chipotle sweet potato fries (or regular if you don’t like a little spice)
  • Real green bean casserole

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. First make the green bean casserole. This can sit while you prepare everything else and be put in the oven during the last 20 minutes.

Mix the hamburger meat: put 1 pound ground turkey and add thyme, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, panko, and  greek yogurt. Mix altogether with your hands. Form into 8 smaller patties and press your thumb into the middle of the burger patty (this helps it not to become a ball when it cooks). Set the burgers on a plate and place in fridge.

Make the cranberry relish and then use that to make the cranberry mayo. Set both in fridge to let the flavors meld together.

All of the above can sit for at least 5 hours until you’re ready to cook everything.

Start baking the sweet potato fries.

Wrap the dinner rolls in tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Bake the green bean casserole (it takes about 15 minutes as well).

Drizzle a little olive oil into a cast iron fry pan and when the pan is nice and hot cook the sliders over medium high heat.  (I would not advise grilling these burgers unless you get a ground turkey with a fair amount of fat it in which is hard because turkey is so lean). Sear both sides and then lower the heat and allow to cook for 5 more minutes or so. When you flip the sliders add sliced gouda and melt. Take the sliders off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Serve the sliders on top of a dinner roll with champagne mustard (or Dijon), the caramelized onions, and a healthy portion of the cranberry mayo. Skewer the sliders with a toothpick (or in my case, a wooden kebob because I ran out of toothpicks) to keep them from falling all over your plate.

Serve the sliders with green bean casserole and sweet potato fries.

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos with Spanish Rice

I generally don’t love crock pot recipes for the pure fact that I enjoy the act of cooking a meal. However, I found these crock pot chicken and spanish rice recipes from Iowa Girl Eats and I really wanted to try it. It was so easy and tasty! I added chicken broth and onions to the salsa mixture and oh man it was moist and flavorful! I will be making it again and again. It would be good for any kind of Mexican meal: burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tostadas, quesadillas, taco salad, etc.

I served the burritos with the Spanish rice and refried beans.

For the chicken

*This recipe (with just 2 chicken breasts) made enough for 2 large burrito sized tacos plus 2 days of leftovers. I would only double the recipe if you are cooking for more than 4 people.

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz. mild salsa
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • ¾ packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth
  • Taco shells
  • Optional toppings: tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, black beans/refried beans, cheese (I use monteray jack), salsa, corn, avocado.

For the rice

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ cup onions, minced
  • ¼ cup carrots, minced
  • ¼ cup corn
  • ¼ cup peas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup salsa (I used the salsa that was left over in the crock pot from cooking the chicken)
  • Garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil

Directions

Put a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of the crock pot. Layer 2 pieces of chicken then salsa and half of the taco seasoning and half of the onion. Then repeat with the last 2 pieces of chicken and pour the chicken stock on the top of everything. Mix around a little. Cook on high for 3 ½ hours.

*My crock pot is narrow, so I had to layer my ingredients. If your crock pot is newer and wider (mine is circa 1970), then you can just put a little salsa on the bottom of the pot then layer everything on top and cover and cook.

After 3 hours, check to see if the chicken is ready. When you pick it up with a fork it should fall apart (may need to cook for longer than 3 hours). When this has happened, take it out of the crock pot and set on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your fingers.

Remove most of the salsa from the crock pot and put into a big bowl. Add the shredded chicken back into the crock pot and stir around. You will probably need to add a little salsa back into the crock-pot from the reserved bowl. You want enough salsa on top to keep the chicken moist and warm it back up (so you want it covered, but only slightly).

While the chicken is re-warming, get your toppings ready and make the rice.

For the rice: Mince the onions and carrots. Saute them in a pot with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder for about 5 minutes. Add the salsa, rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low then cover and simmer until rice is cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Add the peas and corn with about 10 minutes left in the cooking process.

Serve with the tacos and refried beans.

Potato and Corn Chowder with Chicken Ceasar Salad

At Martha’s Market a few weeks ago I discovered Frontier Soups. It is a company that makes dry soup mixes and they are wonderful! You can order them online or you can look at local retailers. I know that Whole Foods carries the soups. Tonight I am making perhaps the simplest meal you can make. It is Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder with a chicken Caesar salad (which is a salad bag mix).

All you have to do is get the soup mix and a Dole Caesar salad bag (I think Dole has the best dressing and I particularly love their Ultimate Caesar salad mix).

I basically followed the directions on the soup mix but I changed a few things. I used 1 ½ cups of half and half and ½ cup 2% milk, instead of the 2 cups of cream that it calls for. I also added an extra 2 cups of frozen corn (since fresh isn’t in season). The directions say to peel the potatoes, but I left the skins on mine. I also wanted my soup a little thicker so I added a little extra milk that I mixed with cornstarch. Also, I added garlic powder, lots of salt and pepper to the soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Dole Ultimate Caesar salad mix
  • 1 chicken breast
  • A few shakes of each: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
  • Olive oil (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 1 bag of Frontier Soups Illinois Corn Chowder Mix
  • Extra ingredients that the soup calls for: 2-3 white potatoes (I used about 5 small ones), 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, 2 cups cream or milk, 8 cups low sodium chicken broth.
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup milk
  • 2 -3 tbsp. salt (I know it’s a lot but you have to flavor the potatoes and the corn)
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded (for garnish)

Directions

Wash potatoes and cut them into ¼ inch pieces. Put them into a large (at least 12 cup) pot. Pour in 8 cups of low sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes and then add the ingredients in the soup mix bag. Lower heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.

Marinate the chicken in paprika, garlic powder, olive oil, onion powder, salt and pepper. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a sauté pan, add a little olive oil (maybe 1 tsp.) over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add the chicken breast (I cut mine into half lengthwise, so it will cook and cool more quickly). Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is browned and then flip the chicken and repeat. Set aside and let cool.

Add the 2 cups of cream (or milk and cream mix) and the fresh or frozen corn kernels to the soup. Let cook on low, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, until slightly thickened. I found that mine did not thicken as much as I had hoped, so I mixed 1 tsp. of cornstarch into ¼ cup cold milk and added that to the soup and stirred.

Cut the chicken into thin slices. Pour the contents of the salad bag into a bowl and toss together. Put chilled chicken on top and serve alongside the soup.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup before serving. Garnish with cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.

Creamy Pesto Fettuccini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken

The other night I got a brilliant idea: mix homemade pesto into the base of my alfredo sauce for a creamy and delightful pasta. I also added grilled chicken, but you could always add grilled shrimp, or serve as a vegetarian dish.

In August I made a huge batch of basil pesto because my basil plant was going bonkers! (the recipe for the pesto is posted under sauces). You could use store-bought pesto (basil or roasted red pepper, or sun dried tomato would all work) but make sure that you get a really good one – sometimes you pay for what you get!

Ingredients for the Marinade

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied (or 10-15 raw, deveined and peeled jumbo shrimp)
  • A few shakes of each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, salt and ground pepper
  • 4-5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. white wine (I used pinot grigio)

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • Fettuccini noodles
  • 1 stick of butter, salted is best for this
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk (2% or whole is preferable)
  • ½ to ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan (you must be careful when adding the parm to the hot milk mixture or it will clump – details to follow)
  • A lot of freshly ground pepper (maybe about 1 tbsp)
  • A lot of salt (maybe 1 tsp – or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp. basil pesto (thawed – I froze my pesto into ice cube trays when I made it and then I defrost what I want before I use it)
  • Basil oil (optional)

Directions

Butterfly the chicken by taking a very sharp knife and cutting the chicken in half lengthwise (I buy Perdue chicken breasts when they’re on sale -they come with the tenderloin still attached so you may have to trim that off as well). Marinate the chicken (or shrimp) in a few shakes of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Add a splash of white wine (I used pinot grigio) and about 4-5 tbsp. olive oil. Mix altogether in a large Ziploc bag and let sit for about 2 hours. *If you are using shrimp instead of chicken then you will need to skewer them onto kebobs (if they are 4\wooden make sure they have been soaked in water for at least an hour)*

Preheat the grill (I use charcoal so it takes about 30 minutes to preheat). When really hot, add the chicken and grill for about 3-5 minutes on each side. You want it to be nice and char-grilled. Take chicken off grill and set aside.

Melt the butter on low. Once butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth and thickened slightly.

At this point, raise heat to medium and add the milk and whisk until thickened. Add a fair amount of freshly ground pepper (at least 1 tsp) and salt. Turn off heat and wait about 2 minutes. Add the parm and whisk immediately. Do not add the parm to scolding hot milk or it will congeal and the dish will be ruined (if this does happen, which it has happened to every cook I know, then just use a strainer to fish out the congealed parm and then  re-add the parm to the milk mixture).

Whisk the alfredo sauce until thickened. Add the pesto and stir. Taste to see if it needs salt or pepper. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more milk and whisk. The sauce should continue to thicken once it sits.

At this point, cook the fettuccini noodles, about 10-12 minutes. Drain the noodles and add to the sauce (you can also just serve the sauce on top of the noodles, instead of mixing altogether in the pot). If you do add the noodles to the sauce, let the whole concoction sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve the pasta with grilled chicken on top and drizzle with basil oil.

Chicken Piccata

I have been craving chicken piccata for a few weeks and finally got around to making it. It is such a comforting, tangy yet sweet, tasty meal. You could easily serve it over orzo or rice instead of spaghetti, or could serve the chicken and sauce alongside roasted potatoes and/or a green veggie.

Ingredients (for 2 large portions)

  • 3 pieces thin cut chicken breasts (or 1 chicken breast butterflied, or 3-4 chicken tenderloins)
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup capers, brined
  • Juice of 4 lemons, plus 1 more lemon for slicing
  • 3 tbsp. white wine (I used pinot grigio) – this adds a little sweetness to the tart sauce
  • Handful or parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • Thin spaghetti

Directions

Juice 4 lemons. Thinly slice one lemon. Grate the garlic cloves on a microplane or on the smallest sized holes of a cheese grater. Chop up a handful of parsley.

Put the chicken on a cutting board and lay a piece of saran wrap to cover the chicken. Pound out the chicken so that it is about a quarter inch thick. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Put a thin layer of flour on a plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess.

Add 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan and melt the oils over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add 4 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter to the pan, along with the juice of 4 lemons, the garlic, the capers (do not add the brine of the capers – just the capers themselves), the chicken broth, and a splash of wine (I used pinot grigio). Use a whisk to deglaze the pan and get all of the bits of flour and chicken from the bottom of the pan. Cook the sauce over medium heat to cook off the alcohol in the wine. Let the sauce cook for about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally. Taste to see if it needs seasoning.

Cook the pasta. When the pasta is about 3 minutes from being ready add 1 tbsp. of butter and the parsley and stir around. Add the chicken back to the pan and coat both sides with the sauce. Let the chicken cook on 2 minutes on each side to warm back up.

Drain the pasta and spoon into a pasta bowl. Top with a piece (or 2) or chicken and pour sauce overtop. Top with lemon slices and a sprig of parsley (to make it feel fancy). Serve with a salad/asparagus/ broccoli and/or crusty bread.

Grilled Chicken Two Ways with Green Beans

I decided to try out a new marinade tonight, but I wasn’t sure that I would 100% like it and we are having our weekly ladies night tonight. So, I decided to marinate one chicken breast one way, and a second chicken breast another way (one that I know I love). I served them with stewed tomatoes (see Veggie section of the blog), green beans, and grilled zucchini and squash (see Veggie section of blog).

I forgot to take a picture of the finished chicken and green beans, so the only picture I can offer you is of the green beans, pre-cooking.

Marinade #1: Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette with Herbs

  • ½ cup roasted red pepper vinaigrette (I used Kroger’s brand)
  • 2 tbsp. Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Blend (found in the refrigerated section of the produce area)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder

Marinade #2: Mustard, Wine, and Rosemary

  • 2 tbsp.  Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Garlic powder
  • Provençal Herb Salt (could substitute Crazy Jane’s Salt Mix)
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • Paprika

Other Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Green beans, ends cut off
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder

Directions

Marinate chicken breast in whatever marinade that you would like. If you are going to try one of each, then just put one chicken breast into one Ziploc bag and add the ingredients for marinade #1 and then do the same thing with the second chicken breast and add ingredients for marinade #2.

Preheat the grill. You want it really hot so that the breasts get a nice char on them.

Cut the ends off of the green beans. Put them in a sauté pan and cover them just slightly with water. Add salt and pepper to the pan.

When the grill is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, over the hottest part of the grill. Move to the edge of the grill and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes total. Remove from grill and let sit for about 5 minutes, covered.

Cover the green beans and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 4 minutes and then drain. Shake a little garlic powder, salt and pepper over top of the beans and toss with a tbsp. of butter.

Turkey and Havarti Panini

The ooey-gooey goodness that is the turkey and havarti panini.

Since I only work half days at the moment, I am able to make lunch at home, which I really enjoy. Today I decided to make a turkey Panini with some ingredients I had in the fridge. I had a feeling it would be good, but oh my goodness! It was fabulous!

I am a huge critic of my own food and I like to compare myself to restaurants. I ask myself “If I were to order this meal from a restaurant, would I be satisfied with it and want to order it again?” If so, then I did well. If not, then I need to tweak the recipe or just not make it again. I think I would be satisfied with this meal, had I ordered it from a restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of good rosemary bread
  • 2 slices of fresh deli turkey (I got oven roasted)
  • Mayo (I use Duke’s)
  • Dijon mustard
  • 2 slices havarti cheese (or provolone)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 2 leaves of lettuce
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut 2 nice, thick slices of the bread. Coat one piece of the bread with mayo and the other piece with a thin layer of Dijon.

Put a piece of cheese on each slice (you might have to break the cheese in half to make it fit properly).

Lay the turkey on top of one slice of the cheese. This is the important step: do not just lay the turkey down in one flat layer. Kind of twist it around so that it is voluminous and kind of creates more layers. This makes the sandwich look pretty and makes it seem like there is more turkey.

Put the sliced tomatoes on top of the turkey.

Add a sprinkle of salt and a few grounds of pepper.

Close the sandwich up (I didn’t forget the lettuce). Over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp. butter in a sauté pan (I used cast iron). When the pan is hot add the sandwich. You  have 2 choices now: you can press the sandwich down with another pan or you can just let it grill itself like a traditional grilled cheese (I pressed mine with another pan). When the cheese has melted and the bread is nice and toasted, remove the sandwich and lay it grilled side up on a plate.

Add 1 more tbsp. of butter and let melt. Put the sandwich back down to grill the other side. When the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted take it out of the pan. Gently open up the sandwich and place the lettuce leaves in between the tomato and the turkey. This will ensure that the lettuce doesn’t get wilted and gross.

Close the sandwich back up and cut into two parts. Enjoy with chips.

Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, and Spinach

We have eaten a lot of red meat this week, so I decide to have a chicken dish on this rainy night. I had extra baby spinach left over from my spinach and strawberry salad earlier this week, along with left over goat cheese and roasted red peppers. All of these ingredients screamed that they needed to be together, so I stuffed them inside of a chicken breast. Boy was it tasty! I served with my favorite cheap and easy boxed side dish: parmesan couscous. As my roommate says, the food so nice, they named it twice.

The red peppers can either be store bought and packed in oil, or you can make your own. If you make your own (which I did), I would make them 2 hours ahead of time so that you have enough time to let them cool and peel the skins off.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 1 carton of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 ½ yellow onions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 6 strips of roasted red peppers packed in olive oil
  • 4 oz. (one small log) of garlic and herb goat cheese
  • ¼ cup grated/shaved parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kitchen twine

Directions

Put the chicken in a Ziploc bag and marinate the chicken in olive oil, a few shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Let marinate for however long.

Cut the onion in half and then cut each half in half lengthwise (so you have 4 long half inch wide pieces). Mince the garlic. Cut the roasted red peppers into ¼ inch pieces. Butterfly the chicken breasts (you still want the chicken to be a little connected on the sides and of course on one side).

Sauté the onions over medium to medium low heat with a little olive oil until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic once the onions are caramelized.

Lower the heat to low, and add the spinach to the onions and garlic. Stir together so that the onions are evenly dispersed. Cover and let the spinach cook down for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and uncover.

Use 1 half of the goat cheese per chicken breast. Spread the goat cheese onto each side of the butterflied chicken breast. Sprinkle the roasted red pepper onto one side of the chicken breast. Top with the spinach, onion, garlic mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and add a small pinch of salt and pepper. Close the chicken breast up and wrap the chicken with two pieces of kitchen twine to keep it together.

Over medium high heat, sauté the chicken breasts until browned on each side.

Stick into a buttered (or lightly oiled) baking dish. Bake at 400° for about 10-15 minutes. Cut off the twine. Serve with couscous, orzo, veggies, salad, or whatever you fancy.