Caprese Stuffed Chicken

We are really trying to eat leaner nowadays so I always have lean chicken breast on hand.  This was a creation that came out of what was in my pantry and fridge.  Chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella cheese, sundried tomato, fresh basil and black forest ham.  It’s so easy to put together, but makes for a beautiful presentation.

There’s something about foods that are stuffed and rolled, then cut that just looks so pretty…..don’t you think?

Exhibit A: Pumpkin roll

Exhibit B: Rolled cookies and of course

Exhibit C: Cinnamon rolls.

Need I say more?!

First, I butterflied one chicken breast to make it thinner.  Butterfly is just a fancy way of saying I cut the chicken horizontally to thin it out.  Lay down one piece of ham, then string cheese, sundried tomato slices, then one leaf of basil.

Roll each chicken breast into tight little bundles and tuck the seams on the underside.

I served the chicken with some alfredo pasta and a cold salad.  This chicken makes for a nice weekday meal, but looks fancy enough to serve to guests.

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

3 large chicken breasts

6 slices black forest ham

6 sticks of mozzarella string cheese, cut in half

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, sliced thin

6 large basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Butterfly (slice horizontally) the chicken breasts to get 6 slices of chicken total.   Place one piece of ham, two slices of cheese, some sundried tomato, and one basil leaf onto each chicken breast.  Roll each breast tightly and place, seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  When all the chicken is rolled, drizzles some olive oil onto the chicken, then sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done.

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Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I’ll shout it from the rooftop any day, “I am a comfort-food lover!”  Except if it’s raining, or if I don’t happen to have a ladder handy.  There’s just something about comfort-food that is just so……..well…….comforting.

Sorry if that’s redundant.  For me, it’s the equivalent of coming home from a long day and slipping on your cozy sweat pants, soft cotton tee and fuzzy pink slippers with the bunny ears on them.  Who can say no to that, right?!

Well, my good friend Katie is a whiz with comfort foods.  She grew up in rural Iowa on a ranch, so you can imagine the wonderfully comforting family recipes that came out of her house.  She shared this one with me and it’s been a favorite in my family ever since.  This is a great side dish to serve with any type of beef or pork or chicken dish.  I chose to serve it along side pan-seared sirloin steak and roasted broccoli spears.

My favorite part of it is the crusty edge, with the charred cheese bits.

 

 

I sliced these potatoes thinly by hand, but it would be a lot faster if you have a mandoline slicer.

Sprinkle green onions on top.

 

 

Add in the cheddar cheese to your bechamel sauce.  Bechamel is French for a white sauce made from butter, flour and milk.

 

 

Here’s the resulting cheese sauce.

 

 

Pour the lovely creamy cheese sauce over the whole thing and pop into the oven until bubbly, gooey and oh so good!

The next time you have one of those long days, come home and do the sweats, tee and bunny slippers thing and then make this.  I guarantee you”ll feel better!

 

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

6 cups potatoes, sliced thin

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the thinly sliced potatoes in a greased 13×9 baking dish and sprinkle the green onions on top.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in flour and allow it to cook for one minute.  Add in the salt, pepper and milk.  Stir constantly until mixture has thickened.  Sprinkle in the cheese as you whisk, until all the cheese is melted.  Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and continue baking for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

 

Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

Bacon.  Blue Cheese.  Enough said!

Okay, not really.  I’ve got a lot to say about these tasty little bites.

I brought these to a New Year’s Eve party at my friend, Katie’s house and everyone loved them. They’re fun and festive and pop into your mouth in just one bite.

I love a warm appetizer.  The crunch and saltiness from the bacon was a great contrast to the pillowy soft dough.  The cream cheese with the chive and onion also gave the whole thing a great flavor.  The bacon played well with the tang of the blue cheese too.

This is also super easy to make because I used a  refrigerated crescent dough.

 

 

The lovely bits of crunchy bacon.  The smell perfumed my kitchen, hair and clothes.

I had dogs sniffing me up after cooking this.  I think my husband tried to get a wiff of me too!

 

 

Blue cheese all crumbled up.  Not the best smelling cheese, but mighty tasty.

Especially when it’s wrapped up with the bacon.

 

I used the onion and chive flavored cream cheese to save me some time.  Spread it evenly over the crescent dough.

 

 

Then spread the bacon and the blue cheese over the whole thing.

I’m not sure why my blue cheese looks like it’s glowing, but it really wasn’t.   The think the photo got a bit too much light.

 

 

Now roll that sucker up and cut off the ends.

 

 

Cut them into half inch slices.  I used two rolls of crescent dough, which made about 75 pieces.

Don’t bake your spirals this close together, as I show in the picture.  I just transported them to Katie’s  house this way.  When I got there, I took half of them off and repositioned the spirals with more space in between.  They don’t puff up much, but I didn’t want them to stick together.

Enjoy them warm!

 

 

Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

2 cans crescent dough

8 oz container onion chive cream cheese

8 slices bacon, diced, cooked until crispy

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay out one sheet of crescent dough and with a rolling pin, form into a rectangle.  Pinch together the seams if the dough starts to split.  Spread ¼ of the cream cheese on the dough, avoiding the edges.  Sprinkle ¼ of the bacon and ¼ of the blue cheese evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough into a log and set aside.  Repeat the steps with the other three pieces of crescent dough.

Cut each dough log into about 10-12 pieces.  Lay the spirals flat onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Brie En Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts

 

I am a lover of cheese and if you are too, then you will love this appetizer!  I could actually eat this as a meal all by itself, but I like to share, so I did.

Brie en croute is French for brie in a crust.  It is a descriptive name, but doesn’t do it justice when it comes to the taste.

I made this brie en croute for my Bunco group and it was great to have all the ladies huddled around this dish wondering what is was and why it tasted so good.

 

Many recipes call for puff pastry, but I had a couple rolls of crescent dough in the fridge, so that’s what I used.

I also used some leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving.  The tart sweetness played really well with the creamy warm cheese.  And of course we needed some texture, so the walnuts did their job too!

 

Here is the whole tasty bundle wrapped up in the crescent dough.  It doesn’t look very pretty here, but after it’s time in the oven it came out beautifully golden brown and crispy.

 

Brie en Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 round (8 oz) Brie cheese

1/2 cup homemade cranberry sauce

1/3 cup dried cranberries, softened*

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg, beaten

 

Heat oven to 350°F.

If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate crosswise into 2 sections. Pat dough and firmly press perforations to seal, forming 2 squares. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut crosswise into 2 rectangles. Pat dough to form 2 squares.

Place 1 square on ungreased cookie sheet. Place cheese on center of dough. Spoon cranberry sauce, softened cranberries and walnuts on top of the cheese.

Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese; fold bottom edges over top edges. Gently stretch dough evenly around cheese; press to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

*To soften cranberries, mix dried cranberries and 1/2 cup hot water in bowl. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.

Caprese Salad Skewers

I know, technically this isn’t cooking.  It’s more like arranging of food.

This dish came to be, due to the abundance of basil in my herb garden.  The caterpillars were having a feast on my basil plant this spring, so I figured I’d fight back and use up some of it.

The beautiful cherry tomatoes are from a friend’s garden.  She had tomatoes overgrowing and was more than happy to share with me.  And being the good friend, I took them.

 

I love how even in their food, Italians are so patriotic.  Can’t you see the Italian flag colors in this dish?

This is a great appetizer or salad.  It’s refreshing and just tastes like a spring garden.  All it needs is a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bring out the richness and tang of the fresh ingredients.

The presentation is the most fun for me.  I like how the bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) and tomatoes are the same size and just lends itself to be skewered.  Either that or you end up chasing these round little things around the plate with your fork.  I figure I’d be kind to my guests and make it easy on them.  I try to be a good host, you know!