Marinated Artichoke, Sun-dried Tomato and Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breast over Wheat Penne Pasta

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Last night’s chicken was so good, I wanted to repurpose it for tonight’s dinner. I chose to make a pasta sauce out of what was left in the jars of marinated artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. I poured the two jars into a large skillet, adding a tablespoon of minced garlic (from a jar – I wanted tonight’s dinner to be quick to prepare), the zest of one and a half lemons, the juice of one and a half lemons, and a half teaspoon of kosher salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper.

I then sliced my leftover chicken and cut the slices in half. I added those to the pan and cooked everything together for about 20 minutes, while my noodles cooked. For my noodles, I chose whole wheat penne pasta. If you remember from last night’s blog post, I stuffed the chicken with the artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and Boursin cheese. As the chicken cooked in the skillet, some of the cheese seeped out a bit while cooking, which flavored my pasta sauce in just the right way.

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Before draining my pasta, I saved about a cup of pasta water that I used to loosen my sauce a tad. You may or may not need to do this.

When I served my pasta, I added a tablespoon of Boursin to the top and it melted a bit onto the hot noodles. I also added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a bit more zest to the top of my dish.

I actually still have leftovers on this, so Dennis is looking forward to having pasta for lunch tomorrow. This is definitely the dish that keeps on giving.

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Ingredients

Leftover chicken from the marinated artichoke, sun-dried tomato and Boursin stuffed chicken breast meal

1/2 jar of marinated artichokes, including liquid

1/2 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, including liquid

1 tablespoon Boursin cheese (per serving)

8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta

1 tablespoon minced, refrigerated garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch for the pasta water

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 lemons, juice and zest (reserve 1/2 of one lemon to use when plating the pasta and reserve a few pinches of zest for toping your pasta)

Directions

  1. Boil water for noodles.
  2. In large skillet, pour the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Add salt and pepper, garlic, the zest and juice of 1-1/2 lemons, stir and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Cook noodles per package directions.
  4. Cut leftover chicken into strips and then in half. Add to pan. Heat together with sauce while noodles cook.
  5. Serve over pasta, adding a tablespoon of Boursin, a squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of lemon zest before serving.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

 

Brie, Blueberry Preserves and Kale Toasted Sandwich

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I don’t know about you, but I enjoy an old favorite for lunch every now and again. Something that brings back childhood memories and makes you think about being a kid once again. I also enjoy taking an old favorite and changing it up a bit, making it healthier even.

Last Wednesday my dear friend, Elizabeth and I spent the day together to celebrate my birthday, which was on Monday. Elizabeth loves to cook as much, if not more, than I do. She once was a caterer! She is the friend that started Del Mar Dinner Club with me and we all still get together quarterly after 11 years. There are four couples and we have a great time together!

Elizabeth asked what I’d like to do for the day. She told me about a store she has wanted to check out for quite some time called “Chef’s Toys”. I told her I thought that sounded like great fun. We had such a blast! It was like walking into a toy store for those of us that like to cook and bake. They had so much to choose from and at great prices. They’ve been open for a year and a half at their new location, which is 8925 Carroll Way, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92121. Their website is http://www.chefstoys.com. Everyone who worked there was so nice and so very helpful. Elizabeth and I filled our cart with things we couldn’t live without. She had a list with her of what she was looking for and had great success. She bought a food mill (I’m getting that next time!), a spiralizer and some other things. I needed some new sheet pans, so was on the lookout for those. I also found some other things to buy, which I’m enjoying using. For just over $40, I was able to purchase two sheet pans, two wooden bowls, a fantastic bread knife, a tomato/cheese/sandwich knife, measuring cups (because I always need a few sets), and a counter scraper (I’ve always wanted one of those to collect the onions or other veggies I’ve chopped … but, always forget until I need it.). It was my lucky day when I spotted one at Chef’s Toys. The wooden bowls are technically salad bowls, but I really wanted them for popcorn.

Below are some pictures of the inside of Chef’s Toys. You can buy everything from kitchen tools to large ovens. I also included a picture of their business card because they will deliver or ship if you want to order on-line from them.

After our fun shopping trip to Chef’s Toys, Elizabeth and I went to lunch at a wonderful place called The WineSeller and Brasserie. When you walk in, the downstairs is a store that sells wine and offers wine tastings and events in the evenings. Upstairs is a lovely restaurant.

I ordered the brie, arugula and blueberry grilled cheese sandwich. It was so very good. I decided to make a version of that today for lunch, but make it my way.

The brie I chose was light brie, the blueberry preserves I chose had reduced sugar and the bread I chose was on the smaller size per slice, therefore – lower calorie. This bread has just 70 calories per slice (I’ve seen many for 110 calories a slice and more). It also was a little thicker and sturdier so I knew it would toast and hold up well when I put it in the microwave to melt my cheese. Kale was my green of choice for my sandwich because that’s what I had on hand.

I decided not to make my “grilled cheese” in the traditional way, saving on the butter or oil used to coat the outside of the bread before grilling. I used to watch my Dad make a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch sometimes and he would toast his bread, place a slice of cheese on each slice of bread and melt the cheese in the microwave that way. He would eat his sandwich open face.

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I melted the cheese in the microwave for 40 seconds, which was the perfect amount.

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This is my version of a nice lunch, done a little lighter. All in all, the calories for this sandwich were 140 for bread, 30 for the preserves, 70 for the brie and 14 for the kale. This comes to just 254 calories. I added baked chips to my sandwich and a red delicious apple. I feel good about my lunch and it wasn’t too heavy at all.

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Ingredients

2 slices wheat sourdough

1 serving light brie cheese

a handful of raw kale

1 tablespoon reduced sugar blueberry preserves

Directions

  1. Toast bread
  2. Cut brie into small pieces and lay on one slice of the toasted bread. Microwave for 40 seconds.
  3. Top the melted brie slice with kale, spread the blueberry preserves on the other half of the bread. Close the sandwich, cut in half and enjoy.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

Marinated Artichoke Heart, Sun-dried Tomato and Boursin Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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Because it’s Sunday, I wanted to make a nice dinner for my family. I like to make things for dinner that look and taste impressive, that I would be proud to serve at a dinner party … but are also easy enough to make any night of the week without too much work. I believe some of the easiest dishes to make are the best. Maybe it’s because I feel confident while preparing a dish that isn’t too difficult, and that confidence comes through in the finished product.

I picked up a package of Boursin Garlic and Fine Herb Cheese at the market last week. The rest of the ingredients came to mind from there. I grabbed a jar of marinated artichokes and a jar of Sun Dried Tomato Halves, in olive oil. I also picked up a package of three boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

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I started by slicing my breasts lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through the chicken.

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Once I had all three breasts sliced, I sprinkled kosher salt and pepper over the inside of my chicken. In a small dish, I placed two tablespoons each of the liquid from a jar of artichokes and a jar of sun-dried tomatoes (in oil).

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Just look at those yummy herb flakes in this bowl. It can only add so much to this flavorful chicken.

I placed a couple artichokes pieces on the center of the chicken and on top of that, sun-dried tomatoes. On top of the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, I placed two tablespoons of Boursin cheese.

I then folded the top half of the breast over the bottom before placing it on my sheet pan for roasting.

Once I had the chicken on the rack on my sheet pan, I drizzled a third tablespoon of olive oil over each breast and sprinkled the rest of the kosher salt and pepper over the top of the chicken before brushing the liquid I took from the artichoke jar and sun-dried tomato jar. Once I brushed the liquid over the chicken, I sprinkled pasta sprinkle seasoning on top. I bought this seasoning at Penzeys spice shop last week and couldn’t wait to use it. If you don’t have Penzeys pasta sprinkle, you could definitely use Italian seasoning and if you are interested in buying the pasta sprinkle, but don’t have a Penzey’s near you, you can order from them on-line at http://www.penzeys.com. Kylie and I had so much fun perusing their store. I think she had as much fun as I did shopping there. In fact, she’s the one that picked the pasta sprinkle.

I roasted my chicken in a 425 degree oven for 40 minutes. The chicken I bought was so large, I ended up cutting the breasts in half and I’m going to be using the rest tomorrow in a pasta dish. I may blog about that one … stay tuned!

I served the chicken with roasted broccolini and roasted small potatoes.

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Ingredients

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

2 teaspoons Penzeys Italian sprinkle

2 tablespoons liquid from sun-dried tomato jar

2 tablespoons liquid from artichoke jar

4-5 sun-dried tomato halves per breast

2-3 artichoke halves per breast

6 tablespoons Boursin garlic and fine herb cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half, lengthwise (being careful to not cut all the way through).
  3. Take 2 tablespoons liquid from artichoke jar and 2 tablespoons liquid from sun-dried tomato jar and set aside in a bowl, mix together.
  4. Sprinkle open chicken with half the salt and pepper.
  5. In center of breast, near “seam” lay artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and spoon Boursin cheese.
  6. Fold chicken closed and place on rack on baking sheet.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over chicken and sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pepper.
  8. Brush artichoke and sun-dried tomato liquid over chicken and sprinkle with Pasta sprinkle.
  9. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

 

Brie Stuffed Burger

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It’s Sunday and because it’s Sunday I thought it would be a good night to make hamburgers for dinner. It’s on the simple side and that’s what I wanted for tonight.

I know Kylie enjoys hamburgers and Dennis does as well. Kylie’s second semester at CSUSM starts up tomorrow. She is actually looking forward to heading back to school and  her new classes that await her. This next week is going to seem so quiet to me. Kylie lives at home and commutes to her campus, but it’s been so nice to have her home with me during the day … that is when she wasn’t hanging out with her friends. Of course, knowing she’s with friends and having a good time always makes me happy. We certainly had a lot of fun during her break … Kylie had off from December 15th until tomorrow. Wow … that was so nice!

I made a simple burger with very little seasoning. I decided to stuff my burger with a small wedge of brie cheese. It sounded decadent to me while I was grocery shopping this morning and that’s how I came up with the recipe. A lot of times I find my inspiration while walking the aisles at the store and coming up with a plan on the fly.

I started with a pound and a half of lean ground beef. To that, I added an egg to bind the meat together, kosher salt and pepper.

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I mixed everything together lightly with a fork and formed 6 burger patties. I knew Dennis would appreciate leftovers so he could take a burger to lunch with him.

I cut a serving size of brie, but only used a third of that wedge for my burger. You could definitely use the entire serving of brie for your burger if you’d like.

I took my meat and placed the brie on top, forming the Pattie around the cheese.

For a bun, I used an English muffin. It has quite a bit fewer calories than a hamburger bun, which I appreciate.

I added only romaine lettuce and a couple slices of tomato. I didn’t add any condiments to my burger. I really wanted a simple burger tonight. Dennis and Kylie enjoy ketchup and mustard and I always enjoy dijon mustard on my burgers, just not tonight. I wanted to taste that brie cheese, that was the star of my hamburger after all.

The burgers looked great when I pulled them from the oven. I wanted to bake my burger, no oil or butter tonight. I loved that the brie cheese melted outside the meat a little – yum!

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

brie cheese (as much or as little as you’d like)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place meat into a glass bowl.
  3. Add egg, salt, and pepper to meat. Mix lightly with a fork.
  4. Place wedge of brie within each burger patty and form.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

 

Olive Tapenade Chicken Breast

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My dinner idea tonight came from an urge to clean out the pantry of things leftover that I bought to use for entertaining and hadn’t.  A couple of those things were jars of olive tapenade to use as a topping for crostini and jars of antipasto I wanted to have on hand to place on my cheeseboards. Starting in November and continuing through December, I did a lot of entertaining, as I’m sure quite a few of us did. I live for that time of year for just that reason. There is nothing I love more than sharing my love of cooking and home with family and friends. When someone says they’d like to come for a visit, there is not a thing that could make me smile more. I love people and I love having people around me.

I bought thin sliced chicken breasts to use for tonight’s dinner. I envisioned them baked with olive tapenade spooned over them and baked that way. That was going to take care of one of the extra jars of tapenade I bought for last month’s entertaining activities. I sprayed a shallow square dish with non-stick cooking spray and laid the chicken breasts down. There were three. I sprinkled a minimal amount of kosher salt on the chicken since olives are salty enough on their own. I ended up using 1/2 teaspoon between all three breasts. I then sprinkled 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. You could use more or less of the red pepper flakes, depending on your liking. Next, I sprinkled the zest of two lemons over the breasts before spooning my olive tapenade on top. The oven was preheated to 375 degrees and I placed the chicken in for 30 minutes.

At the same time I placed the chicken in the oven, I placed a small sheet pan with 1/2 a  jar of antipasto I had leftover in my refrigerator. I wanted to use this up, so figured I’d roast the antipasto (minus the liquid from the jar … I saved that to add to my cooked noodles) along with the chicken. To the antipasto, I added a package of rosemary sprigs I needed to use and 3 cloves of garlic that I chopped roughly.

While the chicken and antipasto were roasting, I cooked my spaghetti noodles.

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When the chicken and antipasto had finished I removed them from the oven and was quite happy with the amount of juice that was surrounding the chicken in the pan. That would just add more wonderful flavor to the noodles. I ended up making a sauce out of the extra liquid in the chicken pan, the antipasto and extra liquid I saved from the jar. I added no extra oil to this dish at all, besides what was in the olives.

As soon as the chicken was done, I squeezed the juice of one lemon over the chicken.

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Oh my goodness, I wish you could all smell the wonderful scent coming out of my kitchen while this dish was being made.

I then added the antipasto that I had roasted to the cooked and drained noodles. (Note: before draining your noodles, make sure to save about a coffee cup full of pasta liquid in case you need it for the sauce.) I also added the liquid from the jar of antipasto and the juices from the roasted chicken pan.

I then tossed everything together, adding the juice of one lemon and a half cup of grated parmesan and tossing again.

Once everything was combined, I placed my noodles on a plate and added a few slices of the chicken that was resting.

This dish would be wonderful using fish as well and serving with pasta. I mentioned to Dennis that I’d like to make this again, and make it in the form of a baked pasta, with layers of cheese added. Stay tuned, I may do that in the near future.

This dish would be wonderful to serve to guests. I wouldn’t hesitate to make this for a dinner party.

Ingredients for Chicken

3-4 thin sliced chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8-1/4 red pepper flakes, according to your liking

9.5 ounce jar olive tapenade

1 jar of antipasto, liquid reserved for the pasta

zest of two lemons

juice of one lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay chicken in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Sprinkle lemon zest over chicken and spoon tapenade over breasts.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until chicken registers 165 degrees.
  5. Remove from oven and squeeze lemon juice over chicken.

Ingredients for Roasted Antipasto and Noodles

1/2 to 1 jar antipasto (I used a half because that’s what I had left. You could definitely use the entire jar.)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 package of rosemary sprigs

juice of one lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spoon antipasto onto baking sheet, saving liquid for pasta sauce.
  3. Add chopped garlic and rosemary to antipasto.
  4. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is ready.
  5. Boil noodles.
  6. Toss rosemary before adding to the contents of the pan to the pasta.
  7. Add antipasto, liquid from jar and liquid from chicken pan to pasta. Mix well.
  8. Add lemon juice and grated parmesan and toss.
  9. Place pasta on a serving dish, adding slices of chicken.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

 

Avocado Toast with Tomatoes and Raw Slivered Almonds

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It’s always nice to enjoy a satisfying lunch that is also a very healthy lunch … it’s great to feel satisfied without breaking the calorie bank.

I was out this morning for an appointment, which I actually showed up to 24 hours early. Ooops, my nail appointment was actually scheduled for tomorrow. No worries, Nina told me. I can take you at 11:00. Perfect, that works. To kill time, I ran to Old Navy and was probably the luckiest customer in the store. I scored two pair of jeans for under $6! What? How could that possibly happen? Lucky me! I should buy a lottery ticket before my luck runs out. One pair was $1.46 … crazy I know. The other pair was $3.49.

By the time I got out of my nail appointment at 1:00, I was getting pretty hungry. I had eaten breakfast at 8:00 and had only had a bottle of water since then. I knew I needed to stop at the market for an item for dinner, so decided I’d grab an avocado and a tomato and make avocado toast for lunch. It was about the easiest lunch to put together and so very healthy. My goal has been to try and eat an avocado a day, at least 5 days a week. I’m determined to get into the habit of this for 2018.

Adding slivered almonds to my avocado toast added the perfect crunch. The calories in my lunch was around 400. Not bad! The toast I used was Rustica. I buy this at Trader Joe’s because I love it and it is only 70 calories per slice. I debated using Killer Dave’s 70 calorie per slice bread, but I had that one yesterday. I need to be fair to everyone in the fridge. The avocado has 234 calories, the tomato has 22 calories and a tablespoons of slivered raw almonds has 40 calories. I only used about 1 teaspoon of the almonds.

This meal is also really cost effective at just $1.99 for the avocado and $1.29 for a tomato. It is possible to eat healthy for not a lot of money.

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I can go about my afternoon feeling good about the healthy lunch I had. Tonight’s dinner is going to be so healthy too. I look forward to sharing that recipe with you all that later on this evening.

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Ingredients

2 slices whole grain bread (your choice)

1 avocado, mashed

1 tomato, sliced

1 teaspoon slivered almonds

pinch of kosher salt

pinch of pepper

Directions

  1. Toast your bread.
  2. Mash the avocado and slice your tomatoes.
  3. Spread the avocado on the toast and top with the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  4. Garnish with slivered almonds.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris

 

 

Cast Iron Skillet Salt and Pepper Crusted Russet Potatoes

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I don’t know about you, but I love the taste of the skin on potatoes. I learned from my paternal Grandmother many years ago that the skins of potatoes hold so many important nutrients. This is something I learned that has stuck with me through the years. Remembering what my Grandma taught me, I always eat the skin on a baked potato.

Sometimes potatoes get a bad rap … it seems people don’t always like to include potatoes in their diet because they are a starchy vegetable. However, there are so many benefits to eating a potato. Helping to keep blood pressure in check is one of them. White potatoes contain magnesium and potassium, which are both good for heart health.

A lot of times, I will cook my potatoes directly on the rack in the oven. Tonight, however, I wanted to try something new. I cooked them in my cast iron skillet. First, I poked my potatoes a few times with a fork. Next, I rubbed each potato all over with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

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I absolutely love the smell of fresh ground pepper. I’m sure there’s a candle out there somewhere with that scent and one day, I’ll find it.

I preheated my oven to 425 degrees and placed the skillet in the oven for 55 minutes. (Check your potatoes at 45 minutes. If it can be pierced easily with a sharp paring knife or fork, your potato is done. Your potato may cook a bit longer or a bit less, depending on it’s size.)

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Once the potatoes were done, I put them on a plate, sliced them with a knife and added low fat sour cream, a little more ground pepper and minced parsley. A beautiful crust was formed on our potatoes. I think this had a little something to do with baking it in my cast iron skillet.

We had our potatoes with filet mignon tonight. I love the simplicity of making a baked potato as a side dish. You prepare the potatoes, put them in the oven and forget about them for the next 45-55 minutes.

Ingredients

2 russet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil (1/2 tablespoon per potato)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon per potato)

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (1/2 teaspoon per potato)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry potato.
  3. Pierce potato with a fork in a few spots.
  4. Rub all over with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.
  5. Place in cast iron skillet and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris