Garlic-Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Seems I’ve been on a bit of a chicken kick lately. A number of my recent posts involve it as a main ingredient. My husband and I eat a lot of chicken as our primary protein because it is lean and versatile. But I think we need to mix it up a bit in the new year. Resolution Number One. Well, right after get in shape, eat healthier, organize my house and spend fewer hours on my gadgets. Then I’ll mix things up – in my KitchenAid mixer – another gadget. Never mind. I guess some resolutions aren’t meant to be fulfilled.

So if you are looking for a lovely way to mix things up with chicken, try this stuffed chicken breast recipe. It would be tasty with turkey as well. The stuffing got a thumbs-up from the hubby.

Garlic-Parmesan Stuffed Chicken BreastsIngredients
1/4 cup Butter
1 cup chopped Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Plain Bread Crumbs (not pictured, oops)
1 cup chopped Fresh Parsley
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/8 cup chopped Fresh Sage
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
Butcher’s Twine

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

Add the onion and garlic.

Add the onion and garlic.

Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the bread crumbs, parsley, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, and sage.

Add the bread crumbs, parsley, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, and sage.

Mix thoroughly and allow to cool.

Mix thoroughly and allow to cool.

Butterfly the chicken breasts without cutting all the way through.

Butterfly the chicken breasts without cutting all the way through.

Cover with plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick.

Cover with plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick.

Season with salt and pepper.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add stuffing over chicken in an even layer.

Add stuffing over chicken in an even layer.

Tightly roll up the chicken breasts and secure with butcher's twine.

Tightly roll up the chicken breasts and secure with butcher’s twine.

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet (I used the same one that I used for the stuffing) and sear each side of the rolled chicken breasts, about 1-2 minutes on each side, until browned.

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet (I used the same one that I used for the stuffing) and sear each side of the rolled chicken breasts, about 1-2 minutes on each side, until browned.

Bake in a 300-degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature is 155-degrees. Let the chicken breasts rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Bake in a 300-degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature is 155-degrees. Let the chicken breasts rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Slice and serve with your favorite vegetable, like steamed artichokes.

Slice and serve with your favorite vegetable, like steamed artichokes.

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Pumpkin Thai Chicken

Well I hope you all enjoyed lovely holidays this past week. My Christmas day was peaceful…just what I needed. And now a new year is only a few days away. I’m not sure what 2013 has in store for me, other than taking on a new position at work, lots of dog trials, a Dutch oven competition or two, and plenty of bountiful feasts to blog about. I think that will keep me busy.

One of  my year-end traditions involves a great purge of refrigerator, pantry and closets. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing today instead of perched here in front of the computer. Yep, I’m procrastinating. Sort of. I did find a way to use some leftover canned pumpkin, part of which was used to bake my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Rumpkin Skillet Cake for a holiday potluck. Since I overdosed on sweets over the holidays, I decided to make something savory with my pumpkin.

I love Thai food and found a way to incorporate my leftover canned pumpkin into a delicate, earthy Thai peanut sauce. This recipe is insanely simple and relatively quick, aside from the chicken marinating for an hour in the fridge. Serve it up with rice or skewer the meat and veggies over a grill for a nice satay. Give it a whirl…and here’s to 2013.

Pumpkin Thai ChickenIngredients
1 cup canned Pumpkin
2/3 cup Milk
1/3 cup Peanut Butter
1/3 cup chopped Green Onions
2 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsps. chopped Cilantro
2 Tbsps. Lime Juice
2 tsps. Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch Green Onions, cut into 1-inch pieces, include green sections
Hot cooked Rice

In a food processor or blender, combine pumpkin, milk, peanut butter, chopped green onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, salt and cayenne pepper.

In a food processor or blender, combine pumpkin, milk, peanut butter, chopped green onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, salt and cayenne pepper.

Pumpkin Thai Chicken

Blend thoroughly. Food processors are the bomb!

Pumpkin Thai Chicken

Combine the chicken pieces and pumpkin/peanut sauce in a bowl. Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge.

In a cast iron skillet, brown the chicken pieces. Add the vegetables.

In a cast iron skillet, brown the chicken pieces. Add the vegetables.

Combine and heat the vegetables through, about five minutes.

Combine and heat the vegetables through, about five minutes.

Serve with white rice and a side of pumpkin/peanut sauce.

Serve with white rice and a side of pumpkin/peanut sauce.

Indian Spice tea

Indian Spice and all that’s nice…

Now that we all can relax since the world didn’t end yesterday, why not do so with a spot of tea?

Cast Iron Tea KettleAnyone who knows me well knows how much I love tea. But not just any ‘ol tea. I generally don’t drink green tea or any of the fruity or flowery kinds. I like the dark, strong bodied black teas – Irish Breakfast is my favorite blend – and I drink my tea the English way, with cream or milk and sugar. It was how I was raised. In fact, if there isn’t any cream or milk in the house, I won’t drink any hot tea. I simply can’t have one without the other. (My husband has the same relationship with chips and sandwiches).

Blame it on my upbringing. My mother served hot tea when my siblings and I were sick or to warm us up after playing outside on cold, blustery winter days. Today, I rarely start my day without it, whether hot in the winter or iced in the summer.

Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Harney & Sons’ Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Last year, one of my husband’s employees, Taylor, introduced him to Harney & Sons teas. He was trying to find a Christmas present for me that he knew I’d really enjoy. Boy, does he know me well! He bought some dynamic tea varieties – including an exotic Indian Spice tea which is divine, along with a Hot Cinnamon Spice blend that he loves and really clears the sinuses if you’ve got a bad cold. But best of all, he gave me a sweet Japanese cast iron tea kettle (pictured above) which is much beloved and used religiously. (I bet you were trying to figure out the cast iron connection.)

Too Soul Tea Co.Today, Taylor no longer works for my husband as she has ventured into the tea business herself and just opened her own tea shop here in Reno – Too Soul Tea Co. For those of you in the Reno/Sparks area, it is located at 542 1/2 Plumas Street – the former location of the Great Basin Food Coop. I visited last week to restock my Irish Breakfast tea supply and check out her new store, which is cozy and inviting, and offers free WiFi and ample seating. The place was busy with people working on laptops, while sampling teas and enjoying friendly chatter. Her shop offers 100 fine teas and tea blends, as well as pastries and sandwiches and the best peppermint hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Taylor plans to introduce online sales in 2013 so please check out her website in the months ahead.

So glad the world didn’t end yesterday. There’s just too much good food and tea to enjoy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Holiday Biscotti

On Sunday I made this festive biscotti as part of some gift packages that I sent to friends and family out-of-state. And although no cast iron was used, I still think it’s a fun and easy recipe to share. Try it and enjoy with your coffee, tea or cocoa.

And my apologies for no step-by-step photos. I made a number of treats all day and my kitchen was an explosion of flour, eggs, spices and icing. It was an absolute mess, but the entire house smelled wonderful.

So follow the steps without photos (I know you can do it!). Biscotti is pretty easy to make – you just have to bake it a few times.

Ingredients
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Tbsps. Butter
4 Egg Whites, lightly beaten
2 tsps. Vanilla
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsps. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup each chocolate and white chocolate chips
Candy Cane, crushed into small bits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat sugar and butter in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add egg whites and vanilla; mix well.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl; mix well. Stir int the egg white mixture and blend well with mixer.

Spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide biscotti dough between the prepared pans. With wet fingertips, spread the dough evenly over the bottom of the two pans. Bake for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and turn over onto a wire rack. When cool enough to handle, cut each loaf into 16 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick. Place the slices on a baking sheets lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes; then turn and bake other side for 5 minutes until golden brown.

Place biscotti on wire rack to cool.

Once cool, melt the chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot with simmering water.

IMG_7270Dunk one tip of each biscotti into the melted chocolate and place the biscotti on the wire racks lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the candy cane bits on the chocolate. Let the biscotti rest on the wire racks until the chocolate is set.

Leave them out for Santa with a big mug of hot cocoa. There will be no coal in your stocking this year!

Mountain Mandarin Cashew Chicken

IMG_7237Last weekend while at my dog’s agility trial, I stayed with my in-laws who live near Sacramento, Calif. The beauty of living so close to northern California’s agricultural bounty is that occasionally I get to enjoy some of it. In particular, my in-laws gave me a 10-pound bag of organic, tree-ripened mountain mandarins grown in Placer County. Once I dove into the bag, I couldn’t get enough of these juicy, slightly tart orange beauties. I think I ate three in one sitting.

In this region, mountain mandarins are grown in the fertile soils of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and each November a festival in Auburn, Calif., is produced in their honor. I think I need to make it over the mountain for next year’s event. I am, quite frankly, rather smitten with these plump orange darlings.

Now, there is no way that I could (or should) eat an entire bag of mandarin oranges by myself so I shared some at work and decided to make  a tasty and simple mandarin orange and cashew chicken stir fry in my skillet. I have made this recipe in the past using canned mandarin oranges, so you may substitute if you aren’t so fortunate to have the mountain variety growing nearby.

IMG_7234Ingredients
3 – 4 Mountain Mandarin Oranges, peeled and the slices separated (substitute with an 11-oz. can of mandarin orange segments)
1/3 cup Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce
2 Tbsps. White Wine
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
3 Tbsps. Vegetable Oil, divided
2 whole boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup roasted Cashews
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced
1/2 lb. Snow Peas
White Rice

Heat 2 Tbsps. of oil in a cast iron skillet.

Heat 2 Tbsps. of oil in a cast iron skillet.

Add chickens, cashews and garlic. Stir fry for 3 minutes.

Add chicken, cashews and garlic. Stir fry for 3 minutes.

Remove to a plate.

Remove to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in the skillet. Add the onions and snow peas. Stir fry for 3 minutes.

Heat remaining oil in the skillet. Add the onions and snow peas. Stir fry for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and cashews to the onions and snow peas.

Add the chicken and cashews to the onions and snow peas.

Combine the Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce, wine and sesame oil. Add it to the skillet.

Combine the Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce, wine and sesame oil. Add it to the skillet.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Remove from heat.

Add the mandarin orange sections.

Add the mandarin orange sections.

Combine into stir fry.

Combine into stir fry.

Serve over white rice. That simple and that delicious. Enjoy!

Serve over white rice. That simple and that delicious. Enjoy!

Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Simple Pasta

Another crazy work week has passed and not much cooking has happened in my skillet lately. My poor blog is feeling neglected. And now I’m off for the weekend to a dog trial in Northern California, so like the Santana song so aptly puts it – my house is empty and my pots are cold. What can I say – life keeps moving and I’m trying to keep up!

So, before I pack up all my doggy stuff and head over the Sierras, I am leaving you with a simple and delicious herb-crusted chicken recipe, baked in my skillet of course, and served with a side of a delicious bow-tie pasta with tomatoes. It is surprisingly easy to make, packed full of flavor and tastes just as good when cold.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Maybe next week won’t be so crazy…

IMG_7193Ingredients
1/2 cup dry Bread Crumbs
2 tsps. dried Thyme
2 tsps. dried Basil
2 tsps. dried Oregano
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Whole Eggs
1/4 cup Water
3-4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts

In a large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with herbs.

In a large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with herbs.

Mix well.

Mix well.

IMG_7197

Place flour in a shallow bowl. I used a pie pan.

In another bowl, combine the water and eggs.

In another bowl, combine the water and eggs.

Place the chicken breasts in the flour and dust completely.

Place the chicken breast in the flour and dust completely.

Next, coat the breasts with the egg mixture.

Next, coat the breast with the egg mixture.

Finally, coat the breasts with the herb mixture.

Finally, coat the breast with the herb mixture.

Place the breast in a skillet or baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place the breast in a skillet or baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Repeat the process for all of the chicken breasts.

Repeat the process for all of the chicken breasts.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

While the chicken breasts are baking, make the pasta.

IMG_7207Ingredients
2 Tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil
1/8 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 pound Bow-Tie Pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze the juice into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze the juice into a bowl.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the juice.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the juice.

Add the chopped basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Add the chopped basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Combine and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Combine and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

While the tomato mixture is gelling with all those good flavors, prepare the bow-tie pasta as directed on the package.

Add to the tomato mixture and combine well. Add the Parmesan cheese.

Add to the tomato mixture and combine well. Add the Parmesan cheese.

Serve with the herb-crusted chicken breast. Enjoy!

Serve with the herb-crusted chicken breast. Enjoy!

No Headache Crab Cakes with Broccoli Slaw

So another reason why I haven’t been posting much is that I have been suffering from a cluster of mini-migraines over the past couple of weeks. They haven’t been bad enough for me to miss work, but annoying enough to make me feel…well, a little crabby. For those of you who don’t suffer from migraines, they can be pretty miserable when they are bad. You feel like a vice is around your head and someone is poking a spike from behind your skull through your eye. When they’re not so bad, you usually feel this dull ache behind your eye, along your temple, down your neck and into your shoulder. It’s hard to concentrate or feel like doing much activity. But suffer through them one must.

When I was in my 20s, my migraines were horrible. I became nauseous, severely sensitive to light (a sunny day actually hurt and it was hard to drive), and I needed about 14 hours of sleep in a very dark, quiet room with a cold washcloth over my eyes to kill the pain. As I’ve aged, the severity of my migraines has diminished (I guess there is one positive thing about getting older). Today, I can usually get through a day with a generic version of Excedrin Migraine, lots of caffeine and protein, and maybe some yoga to relax and get all my kinks out. I’m a pretty healthy person, but migraines remain the number one reason I call in sick at work. They are my nemesis.

Needless to say, I haven’t felt like cooking much over the past couple of weeks. But, since I’ve been migraine-free for the past three days and my crabbiness has diminished, I think a little celebration is in order.

So how about some No Headache Crab Cakes?

IMG_7155Ingredients
2 6-oz. cans Crabmeat, drained, flaked
1/2 tsp. Seafood Seasoning (or try Cajun seasoning to spice things up!)
1 Tbsp. Oil
2-3 Scallions, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup HeartSmart Bisquick mix
1/2 cup Milk
2 Eggs

In a bowl, combine the crab meat and seafood seasoning, then set aside.

In a bowl, combine the crab meat and seafood seasoning, then set aside.

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

IMG_7158

Add veggies and cook for 4 minutes.

Add the crab meat and heat through.

Add the crab meat and heat through.

Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Once cool, add the cheese.

Once cool, add the cheese.

In a bowl, whisk the Bisquick, milk and eggs.

In a bowl, whisk the Bisquick, milk and eggs…

until combined.

until combined.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of batter into a cast iron biscuit pan or muffin tin.

Coat a cast iron biscuit pan or muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of batter into each section.

Spoon a 1/4 cup of crab mix on top of the batter.

Spoon a 1/4 cup of crab mix on top of the batter.

Spoon another couple of tablespoons of batter on top of the crab mixture.

Spoon another couple of tablespoons of batter on top of the crab mixture.

Repeat until the biscuit pan is full.

Repeat until the biscuit pan is full.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the crab cakes with a knife and cool for 10 minutes on a wire baking rack.

Remove the crab cakes with a knife and cool for 10 minutes on a wire baking rack.

While your crab cakes are cooling, make the broccoli slaw.

IMG_7176Ingredients
2 cups Broccoli Slaw (you can also use cole slaw mix if you cannot find broccoli slaw at the grocery store)
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/3 cup Salsa
1-2 Tbsps. chopped Cilantro

Combine the four ingredients in a bowl...

Combine the four ingredients in a bowl…

and mix thoroughly.

and mix thoroughly.

Serve the crab cake on a bed of broccoli slaw...no headaches in making these simple cakes. Enjoy!

Serve the crab cake on a bed of broccoli slaw…no headaches in making these simple cakes. Enjoy!