Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(Not So) Stuffed Chicken

I haven't had much energy to cook new meals from recipes lately so most of my dinners have been either meat and potatoes or pasta dishes. A girl can only get so creative while whipping up dishes like that. Tonight, I wanted to get back in the swing of regularly cooking so I took some time to think. I always have an abundance of chicken and typically serve it with some sort of starch. Since I am so comfortable with that, I figured the obvious decision would be to NOT do that again. After perusing various recipe sights, I was inspired by one of Rachel Ray's recipes on Food Network for Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken. I enjoyed making homemade Chicken Cordon Blue so I couldn't wait to try this recipe.

I defrosted my chicken and made the best attempt I could to pound the meat as flat as I possibly could. It was incredibly difficult considering I do not have a heavy skillet or mallet to flatten with, but I tried my best. (On another note: These breasts were suppose to be thin sliced to begin with, but definitely didn't come out that way.) After a 10 minute struggle, I gave up on the flattening and moved on to creating the stuffing.

I followed the recipe word for word and created a lovely looking spinach and mushroom stuffing. I couldn't wait to roll it up in the chicken and toss it in the pan. That excitement lasted about 90 seconds. I realized quite quickly that my breasts were to thick, making it extremely hard to roll the chicken. I ended up squeezing as much stuffing in as possible and sticking toothpicks in to hold it together. It did NOT look pretty.

After being on the skillet for all of 3 minutes, the rolls started falling apart. After throwing a hissy fit (literally screaming) I removed the toothpicks, threw out the stuffing and laid the chicken flat to fry. Once the meat was thoroughly cooked (and I was splashed by hot oil numerous times - causing my second tantrum) I removed the meat from the pan, heated the remaining stuffing mixture and served it atop the meat. I drizzled the spinach and mushroom topped chicken with the mushroom sauce and enjoyed.

It was quite the process and took me some time to calm down, but still delicious! That is definitely one meal I will never forget making. Looking back now, it's funny how many things went wrong - things that I did not handle so well. But what can you do? Everything can't be perfect, right?

Ok - enough talking. Enjoy the recipe! :)


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Large plastic food storage bag or waxed paper
1 package, 10 oz, frozen chopped spinach
2 tbsp butter
12 small mushroom caps, crimini or button
2 cloves garlic, cracked
1 small shallot, quartered
salt and pepper
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmigiano or romano
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth

1) Place breasts in the center of a plastic food storage bag or 2 large sheets of waxed paper. Pound out the chicken from the center of the bag outward using a heavy-bottomed skillet or mallet. Be firm but controlled with your strokes. (Yeah - let's call this step a huge FAIL for me!)
2) Defrost spinach in microwave. Transfer spinach to a kitchen towel. Twist towel around spinach and wring it out until very dry. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
3) Place a nonstick skillet over moderate heat. When skillet is hot, add butter, mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms, garlic and shallot to food processor. Pulse to grind the mushrooms and transfer to the mixing bowl, adding the processed mushrooms to the spinach. Add ricotta and grated cheese to the bowl and the nutmeg. Stir to combine the stuffing. Return your skillet to the stove over high heat.
4) Place a mound of stuffing on each breast and warp and roll breast over the stuffing (HA!) Secure breasts with toothpicks. Add 3 tbsp of oil to the pan then add breasts to the pan and brown on all sides, cooking chicken 10 to 12 minutes. (The meat will cook quickly because it is thin.)
5) Remove breasts; add butter to the pan and flour. Cook butter and flour for a minute, whisk in wine and reduce another minute. Wish in broth and return breasts to the pan/ Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve.
6) Serve breasts whole or remove from pan and slice on an angle. Top with additional sauce.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Surf and Turf

I have been dying to make scallops but every time I go to the grocery store, I can't seem to find them (the joys of city living.) My plan was to go to the fish market, a few stops away from my apartment, but as I was cruising through Costco one night, I came across a bag a frozen scallops. I was trilled! I'm sure fresh scallops would be the best, but by purchasing a bag of frozen ones, I am able to enjoy this recipe again and again! :)

I could NOT get over how amazing these scallops tasted. Before making them, I searched through many websites to get the best recipe since I know how delicate these are to cook. I thought I had nailed down my choice from Food Network then came across this great recipe from Annie's Eats. Aside from tasting incredibly delicious, these were so quick to cook.

And I couldn't eat the scallops alone, so I popped a seasoned steak in the broiler for 8 minutes on each side.

1 lb. fresh bay or sea scallops
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
½ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2-3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, halved

1) If using bay scallops, leave them whole. If using sea scallops, cut them in half horizontally (or, leave them whole and cook a bit longer). Season the scallops with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.
2) In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsps of the butter over high heat until sizzling. Add the scallops to the pan in a single layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving. Then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should take about 3-4 minutes total (closer to 8 minutes for sea scallops left whole).
3) Add the rest of the butter to the pan with the scallops and let it melt. Add the shallots, garlic, and parsley to the pan and sauté for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve hot, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the scallops.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Special Birthday Treat

As a special birthday treat to my boyfriend I searched long and hard for a dish that I knew he would love. (Personally, I would have rather taken him out to eat, but he personally requested that I cook. I was flattered. How could I say no?)

He L-O-V-E-S chicken and rice so I decided to make chicken teriyaki. It's yet another new dish to me so I was ready for the challenge. Then I saw the recipe... it was no challenge at all. If you're rushing to throw a tasty meal on the table, you've got to try this. I loved it!

Chicken Recipe:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsps garlic, minced
2 tsps sesame oil

1) Place chicken, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, garlic and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours, turning every so often. (I only did this for 1 hour - everything I do is in a rush.)
2) Lightly oil a grill pan and heat on medium high. Remove chicken from bag, discarding any remaining marinade. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.

Rice Recipe:
2 cups brown rice, dry
3 cups water
1 tbsp butter

1) Rinse rice then place in sauce pan.
2) Add 3 cups of water to rice (typical ratio is 1.5 cups of water to every cup of rice)
3) Heat on high, covered, until rice boils.
4) Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and let simmer until water evaporates (appz 20 minutes.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Short-Cut Chicken Parm

It's Friday night and I have no energy to cook, but unfortunately I need to cut back on ordering take-out. I had chicken in the fridge but I am so sick of tossing together grilled chicken and veggies. (Sorry to start this off complaining...but what's a girl to do?) I had a craving for breaded chicken and just as I was starting to cook, it hit me. Make Chicken Parmesan!

The funny thing about this idea is that I've probably only had a bite or two of Chicken parm in my life. I've never ordered it a restaurant and have never attempted to make it myself...but why not, now?

Having never made this dish before, I only knew that the dish contained breaded chicken covered in red sauce and mozzarella so I checked with my trusty friends at Food Network.

I found this great recipe that had the perfect kick of flavor in the bread crumbs and used a quick trick to speed up the cook time. Rather than baking the chicken I fried the breaded chicken in a skillet, topped it with sauce once it was cooked then covered in mozzarella. To melt the mozz, I covered my pan and let it simmer.

The dish turned out great. The funny thing about it...the spices in the breadcrumbs were so delicious I almost wished I had left off the sauce.


1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 (6 ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella (or 4 slices of fresh mozz)
2 tablespoons (1/2-ounce) shredded Parmesan
8 oz linguine noodles

1) In a medium bowl, toss the crumbs with oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and milk together. In a third bowl stir together the flour, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Dip each piece of chicken, 1 piece at a time, in flour, shaking off excess, then egg, then bread crumbs, shaking off excess.

2) (This is the part that I did my own thing.) Heat 2 tbsp of oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Once heated, place breaded chicken and cook each side 3 to 4 minutes. Once cooked through, lower heat to medium-low and add 3/4's of the jar of sauce. Top with mozzarella and cover. Let dish simmer for 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

3) While chicken is cooking, boil linguine as directed on box. Drain, rinse then top with 1/4 of the pasta sauce.

4) Serve chicken over noodles and enjoy!