Calm Breeze

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to Food: Two Chicken Recipes for the Price of One!

So, I know I've been doing the whole decorating thing lately, but I just need to share these delicious recipes with all y'all. One I got off of, with a few variations, but the other I just totally made up myself and it was sooo yummy! I'm back on Atkins induction this week--need to skinny up so I can impress all those little 18 year olds I'll be hanging out with!--so I'm focusing on the low carb meals again. These are both easy, fast, and delicious! And also, they can easily be prepared for one person or the whole family, and have only like five ingredients! Yay! See why I need to share? So here ya go! You can thank me later.

Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breast

1. Take frozen chicken breast(s) and defrost in microwave until they are about 75% thawed (i.e. still a little bit firm and cold). If they are the big thick kind, and you are feeding kids, you may want to cut them in half to make two portions.

2. Use a sharp knife to cut a little pocket into the thickest part of the breast. Be careful not to cut all the way through!

3. Stuff the the little pocket with equal amounts of crumbled feta cheese (I used the plain type, but I bet a flavored kind would be really tasty too!) and chopped roasted red peppers. You can either buy these in a jar (they're usually by the olives in the grocery store) or you can make them yourself.
   To make them yourself, cut several red peppers in half and remove all the seeds and membranes.  Place peppers cut side down on a cookie sheet or in a glass pan. Drizzle olive oil over the top of each pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until peppers are soft and ever-so-slightly charred. These can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days. 

4. Put some seasoned breadcrumbs in a flat dish (a cake or pie pan works well for this) and carefully coat the stuffed breast(s) with crumbs. (There is such a small amount of breading on this that I say the carbs are worth the extra flavor and texture).

5. Heat some olive oil and a pat of butter in a pan over medium-high heat, and brown each side of the chicken. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to med-low. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the breast(s), to make sure it's cooked all the way through. You can also bake these in the oven if you'd prefer not to fry them.

6. In the meantime, in a blender, combine about 1/2 c. sour cream, 1 tsp. minced garlic (I often use the kind that comes pre-chopped in a jar), a few more red peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and spoon over cooked chicken. This dish is great with asparagus, green beans, or a salad!

Chicken Caprese

I say I made this up, but it is really just a variation on the popular Capri Salad. If you aren't familiar with it, Capri Salad is combination of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese, usually with some sort of balsamic dressing. If you haven't had fresh mozzarella cheese, it is quite different than the kind we normally get. It is a lot softer, with almost a ricotta/cream cheese type consistency, and a very mild flavor. This combination of flavors shows up on everything from sandwiches and salads to pizza and pasta. Here is my quick version, which is not exactly like the picture, but close enough.

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Salt and pepper your thawed chicken breast(s). By the way, I only ever use freshly ground pepper--it is so worth it to buy a little grinder and use whole peppercorns. The flavorful oils that are released after grinding quickly dry out, so it is a much better taste than pre-ground pepper. Cook your chicken breast however you like--grill, saute, or broil--I usually grill when I'm in a hurry, but I think sauteing in olive oil gives it the best taste. When it is almost done, put a slice of mozzarella cheese on top (fresh is great if you've got it, but regular old mozzarella tastes just fine to me), and throw it under the broiler until melted and just a little bit bubbly and browned (about 3-5 minutes).

3. Chop up a tomato and some FRESH basil leaves. Try to get these from a friend or neighbor (or your husband's cousin) who has an herb garden, because they are ridiculously expensive at the grocery store. I usually lay a bunch of leaves flat on top of each other, then roll them up lengthwise, and then slice them into thin ribbons (That's called a "chiffonade". Thank you, Martha Stewart.). Throw the tomatoes and basil back into the pan you sauteed the chicken in, (or a new one) with a teensy bit more oil if needed, and saute them, stirring frequently, for just a minute or two until they are hot.

4. Top cooked chicken with tomato/basil mixture. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar on top, if desired, and there you go. YUM! I just threw this together and couldn't believe how flavorful it was! Enjoy!

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