chicken

Pot Pie Potatoes

I am fairly certain that baked potatoes were made for ‘stuffing’.  Growing up with Midwest roots, we had this side dish quite often, and always, always loaded up with butter and sour cream.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing un-tasty about that, especially accompanied with bacon, cheese and chives, but why not something else?!  Let’s change it up!

Since it has been quite rainy here in Texas and the weather has cooled to proper Fall temps, all I have been craving is good, old-fashioned, comfort food!  Given my husband and oldest son are suckers for chicken pot pie, I just had to put the two together!  I chose our favorite, standard pot pie vegetables, but feel free to add green beans or corn or heck, buy a large bag of frozen veggies and be done with it!  *Just add the frozen veggies towards the end.  The other ‘best part’ of this meal is not having to worry about the crust!  If you MUST, feel free to serve it alongside warm biscuits (very yummmmmmy), but I actually liked just the warm potato for a change.  Plus the potato skin crisp’s up beautifully in the oven!

This delicious, home-style recipe is even easy enough for the work week!  Just throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker and set to low.  When you return home in the evening, bake the potatoes and bam!! dinner is served!

 

*If you have the time, by all means make your own “cream of” soup with flour, butter and cream/milk and add to the slow-cooker.  They also make great gluten-free cream soup’s now that can be substituted as well! 🙂 

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large, russet potatoes, baked (scrubbed clean, coated in extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt – baked directly on rack in 375 degree oven until fork tender, about 40-50 minutes.)
  • 2-3 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2′ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 26oz low-sodium cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf *remove prior to serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *cornstarch/milk slurry to thicken at the end, optional

 

Spray or line your slow cooker for easy cleanup.  Lay in the prepped vegetables (besides the frozen peas) and the cubed chicken breasts.  Pour in the soup and the chicken broth, stir together.  Lastly, stir in the seasonings.  Set to low for 7 hours.

About 1 hour before dinner, preheat your oven and bake your potatoes till for tender.  You can also stir in the frozen peas to your chicken pot pie mixture.

When the potatoes are ready, slice vertically, careful not to cut all of the way through.  *I like to scoop out a bit of the potato flesh, but to each their own.  Ladle a large helping of your pot pie mix into the hot potato and enjoy!

PotPiePotatoes

 

Mediterranean Chicken Rollatini

Believe it or not, chicken rollatini is an easy weeknight dinner that gives you a restaurant feel.  With school starting up again soon, I have been playing around with recipes that can be made with ease once those long summer days go away.

Another reason this is a keeper in our household, my entire family loves it, including the lil boys!  I’m not kidding, my 6 year old cleaned his plate and asked if we had anymore the next day for lunch!  As a mom, I feel good about that because it’s packed full of vegetables and baked.  Now, if you’re trying an even healthier route, the mozzarella cheese can be omitted…but why would you want to do that?!

*Easy way to roll up your chicken rollatini’s: Pour the slightly cooled veggie mixture into the casserole dish. One by one, take a thin chicken cutlet right onto the mix and with your hands, place a few tablespoons into the center, roll up and place seam side down on the dish. Repeat. *The filling you laid down first will help the rollatini hold together as you finish the rest of them. If you cannot fit all the filling in the amount of chicken you have, that is ok. It can linger on the sides in the dish and you can spoon over top when serving.  Plus the oil and butter the veggies were sautéed in will fully coat the chicken allowing it to brown and stay moist.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2lbs thinly sliced chicken cutlets (contains about 6 cutlets)
  • 6oz bag of baby spinach
  • 12oz jar roasted red peppers (drained, it is 6.7 oz)
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella (i.e. BelGioiosa brand), optional

Garnish/Serving

  • Balsamic Reduction Glaze
  • Parmesan Risotto
  • Parsley/Tomatoes 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a oven-safe casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add in the spinach, drained roasted red peppers, mushrooms, garlic and shallots.  Sauté for 5-7 minutes until the spinach and mushrooms have wilted.  Pour in the white wine and capers and let simmer for 3-4 minutes (salt and pepper, to taste).  Remove from burner and allow to slightly cool.

Fill and roll up your chicken rollatinis, placing seam side down, in your prepared casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the hot dish from the oven, lay the sliced mozzarella over top and return to oven until melted and ooey-gooey!

I like to serve ours sliced (so you can see the goodness inside each rollatini), over creamy, parmesan risotto drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction and fresh chopped parsley and tomatoes.

 

 

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

CampfireNachos2.jpeg

CampfireNachos3

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla

I’m quite the advocate of a great balsamic reduction.  No, not the vinegar (though good where it is needed), but the rich, slightly sweet glaze.  Now, while I mainly consume it over pillow-like soft slices of mozzarella sprinkled with coarse salt, I felt I needed to broaden both the sauce’s and my horizon.  With that being said, I have concocted the easiest hand-held, Springtime delight!

Likely from my raising in Arizona, I am quite partial to the quesadilla, so I decided what better than to “stuff” a few of my favorite light and fresh ingredients into a tortilla and grill up!

Man oh man, when I tell ya that the popular Mexican favorite doesn’t have to contain south-of-the-border ingredients after all!  It was everything sweet, tangy, crunchy and fresh with the addition of fruit and herbs, vegetables, goat cheese and pecans…last but not least, the balsamic reduction to bring it all together!

*If you like it extra, ooey-gooey cheesy, please feel free to add mozzarella as well! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 6 flour tortillas (regular, spinach, low-carb, whole wheat, etc)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (8oz) bottle Balsamic Reduction (not to be confused with vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In a Ziploc bag, combine the extra virgin olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the balsamic reduction with the chicken.  Zip up, massage to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Grill the chicken, until cooked through and the juices run clear; thinly slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the butter.  On each tortilla, layer an even amount of the cooked chicken, strawberries, spinach leaves, pecans and goat cheese crumbles.  Fold in half and cook each side of the quesadilla until golden brown in color.

To serve:  Slice into wedges with a pizza cutter, sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction overtop, enjoy!

quesadillaStrawBasilChx

 

Sweet Lemon Pasta

This is a great way to kick off the warmth of Spring!  So good that I’m sure you’ll carry this lightly sweet and tangy dish all the way through summer!  It’s bright, fresh and quite versatile as I like to pair it with grilled shrimp or chicken, or just eat it as is for a light lunch!

*To amp up your veggie intake, prepare this with roasted spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the leaves (if using dried about 1 tsp) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 8oz of pasta of choice (I prefer a thin noodle for the light sauce) or roasted spaghetti squash

If adding chicken:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed in 1″ pieces
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Garnish (optional)

  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Lemon wedges

Bring water to a boil, cook noodles to package directions, drain and set aside.  Alternatively, roast spaghetti squash in oven, shred with fork, set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice, thyme leaves, salt and olive oil.  Whisk and set aside.

Bring a large, non-stick skillet to med-high heat.  Add in the olive oil and the chicken seasoned with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook 3-4 minutes on each side to create a nice browned color.

With the chicken still in the pan, pour in the chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits (flavor!) and then pour in the sauce.  Turn down to med-low heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, till slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.

Add your cooked pasta or spaghetti squash straight to the chicken and sauce and toss to combine.  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and lemon wedges…oh, and LOTS of warm, garlicky breadsticks!!  Enjoy! xo

SweetLemonPasta2

 

Chicken Cordon Bleu en Croute

Fancy title, right?  I agree (to my own question), but it’s really so easy that my mother could do it and I’m not even saying that meanly. 😉  *unlike me, she loathes the kitchen.

I have another affinity to this recipe, not just because of it’s taste, but largely in part that it was my first “1st Place” winning recipe in a magazine contest a few years back!  Yep, I received my first $check$ from this and I often wonder who else in the world has since made it in their kitchen.

Ok, on to the backstory of the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu for those not ‘in the know’…

“A cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried. Veal or pork cordon bleu is made of veal or pork pounded thin and wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, breaded, and then pan fried or baked. For chicken cordon bleu chicken breast is used instead of veal. Ham cordon bleu is ham stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.”

Now that we’re all on the same page, you will see how I fancied my version up with baking it in the puff pastry and adding a light pan sauce to it.  No messy frying involved.  Plus with it’s gussied up appearance, this make a for a great in-home date night meal or you can easily double or triple the recipe for a dinner party.

*If shallots aren’t readily available (note: they’re usually by the garlic in your produce section), you may use about a tablespoon of diced red onion + a minced garlic clove.

**The puff pastry will be located in your freezer section’s dessert aisle.  My go to is from Pepperidge Farm, fyi.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices ham, Black Forest ham from deli section preferred 
  • Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water)

Pan Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chicken: Cut each breast horizontally through the center to create a total of four pieces. Place pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound gently to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place two chicken breast pieces in pan at a time and cook 2–3 minutes on each side to brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, then set aside to cool (no need to fully cook the chicken). Keep the skillet handy for further use; do not clean.
4. Cut the sheet of puff pastry dough into four squares. On a floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each square until doubled in size. Layer a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and piece of seared chicken on the dough diagonally and fold the dough ends over the stack to form a pocket. Turn seam side down and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pieces of cheese, ham, chicken and pastry dough. Place two croutes on each baking sheet.
5. Brush tops with the egg wash. Place both baking sheets in oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes.
6. Sauce: About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, start the sauce. On medium-high, heat butter in the same pan used to sear the chicken. Add the minced shallot. When shallot starts to soften and brown, add the flour, stirring constantly to make a golden roux. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the broth. Stir continuously until reduced by about half.
7. Spoon sauce onto plates and set two chicken croutes on each plate.  I like to serve our with a side of steamed or roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!

ChickenCordonBleu

 

Adobo Shrimp Primavera

If this is your first time on my site, you may have noticed that I like to take your traditional recipes and give them a twist and a spike in flavor!  Who needs hum-drum?

Though it’s technically still winter and we definitely  have our cold days and nights, we also have some quite warm days (it is bi-polar Texas after all) and I was just totally over the typical stew dinner.  So here I give you my “Adobo Shrimp Primavera”, just in time for our approaching Spring!

This alfredo has a great smoky and slightly spicy flavor from both the chipotles and the adobo seasoning, but it keeps with tradition using cream and parmesan cheese.  You can also use your favorite fresh vegetables of choice for the primavera aspect and if you don’t care for shrimp, then use chicken!  ..or hey, keep it vegetarian and enjoy the best aspect of all…that sauce!!

https://www.goya.com/en/products/adobo-with-pepper

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb large fresh or thawed shrimp
  • 1-1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning (i.e. Goya brand)
  • 16oz pasta noodles of choice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • 6oz asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Chipotle in Adobo peppers, finely diced + 1 Tbsp sauce (use 1 pepper for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half & half ok)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

 

Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with the Adobo seasoning, set aside.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter along with the squash, asparagus and spinach.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Next, stir in the halved cherry tomatoes, heavy cream, diced chipotle pepper + sauce and the shrimp.  Toss and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 6-7 minutes.

Finally add in the cooked and drained pasta noodles and parmesan cheese; toss and cook until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste for more Adobo seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Serve in a large bowl along with extra parmesan cheese to garnish and warm crusty bread for soaking up the rich, slightly smoky and spicy cream sauce.  Enjoy!!

ShrimpAlfredo

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