EASY Pesto Bruschetta Chicken

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YUMMO!

This chicken is so easy. Like SO easy and really yummy. I can’t really say much else. I cooked this with roasted cauliflower and balsamic glaze – which you can make yourself by reducing balsamic vinegar, but I buy it in bulk since I use it so often. You can buy it at most grocery stores already ‘glazed’ up with all the work done for you!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup pesto sauce (purchased or made from scratch. Here is my pesto sauce recipe.)
  • 1/2 cup sliced tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes b/c that’s what was in my pantry)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Your choice of vegetable side

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut any excess fat off of chicken
  3. Cover each chicken breast with plastic wrap and pound until they are thin and the same thickness.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper lightly on both sides of the chicken breast
  5. Heat olive oil to medium heat
  6. Place chicken breast in the pan and sear for about 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Spray a small glass or metal baking dish with non-stick spray or oil
  9. In the pan, place both chicken breasts.
  10. Top each chicken breast with 1/2 cup of pesto. Spread out across the breast evenly.
  11. Cover with foil and place in oven for 25 minutes
  12. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes
  13. Check temperature of chicken, it should be at 165 when using a thermometer.
  14. When complete, pull from oven. Sprinkle each chicken breast with half of the cheese.
  15. Uncover. Place back in oven on low broil for about 1-2 minutes until cheese is brown and melted. Keep your eye on the chicken as you don’t want to broil too long and dry out the chicken.
  16. Pull from oven and let rest for a few minutes.
  17. Plate and top with tomatoes, then drizzle with balsamic glaze.
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Chicken searing in pan

 

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Chicken in pan, covered in pesto

 

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Chicken baked in pesto for 25 minutes

 

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Chicken post-cheese broil

 

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Final product – served with roasted cauliflower

 

 

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Roasted Tomato Fennel Gratin

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IMG_4492Fennel is my favorite summer vegetable this year. I’ve been using it in salads, dips, and now a veggie side dish that is interesting and YUMMY. Fennel is a member of the celery family. Its like if a sweet onion and some celery stalks met on eHarmony and had a hybrid delicious baby. It is crisp and sweet with a hint of anise — and is just plain awesome no matter how you prepare it.

When my husband has to travel for work and be gone for a few weeks at a time, I’m left running the household which I can do without any problems – except for the lawn. Fun fact about me: I’ve never mowed a lawn. I am imagining my grandfather in heaven shaking his head in embarrassment, – he still mowed the lawn with a cane when he was super duper old. BUT, I didn’t inherit that gene I guess because I have no desire to ever do this chore. My awesome neighbor Andy has offered to mow my lawn in exchange for me cooking their family dinner. I love this arrangement. I made this roasted tomato fennel dish last weekend and served it alongside sous vide steaks and cauliflower puree. A really awesome meal that was definitely worth a free lawn mowing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fennel bulbs – stems and fronds trimmed off
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 excellent quality Roma tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 3 tbsp pesto sauce (recipe)
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottom of a small oven safe dish (I use a 9×11 glass pan).
  3. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. Ensure they are uniform in thickness.
  4. Lay the tomatoes on a double or triple layer of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let rest while you do the rest of your prep.
  5. Slice the fennel bulb into 1/4 inch thick slices. See this recipe for details on slicing fennel.
  6. Heat butter in medium sauté pan over medium heat. When butter is melted add all of the sliced fennel.
  7. When fennel is soft (easily pierced with a fork) and has turned a bit translucent, add 1/4 tbsp pepper and 1/4 tbsp salt, creme fraiche, pesto, basil, and 1/4 cup of the shredded parmesan cheese. Stir for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Pour fennel mixture into bottom of baking dish and spread around until it is even and covers the bottom of the dish.
  9. On top of the fennel mixture in the baking dish, layer on the sliced tomatoes in rows to cover the fennel.
  10. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and lightly sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
  11. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly on bottom (hence why its good to have a clear dish)
  12. Remove from oven and serve hot!
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Laying tomatoes on paper towels and sprinkled w/ salt

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Chopped fresh basil

 

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Fennel placed into saute pan

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Pesto sauce

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Fennel in saute pan and adding basil, creme fraiche and pesto.

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Layering fennel mixture into baking pan

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Layering tomatoes and topping with parmesan cheese

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Final product!

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad is delicious – WHEN its done right. I am kinda picky about my pasta salad which is odd b/c I eat pretty much everything that comes in my path. Usually restaurants throw in a bunch of pasta, red onion and a basic Italian salad dressing and charge way too much for that thoughtless dish. No thank you!!

I love to make this salad for when I have friends over. They always think its store-bought, but its not! Its super easy to make and is bursting with flavor. If I have leftovers, I use for lunches or quick dinners on weeknights. Grill up a chicken breast or some shrimp – toss it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 pound rotini pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups pesto, store-bought or click here to try my recipe
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parm Ramano
  • 1 small bag frozen petite peas, defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large heavily salted pot of water to a boil. Add all pasta. Cook in boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes total, but taste to ensure its done. Strain and rinse gently with cold water. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the microwave according to package directions. Strain into a colander, rinse with cold water and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. I also grab paper towels and do one last smoosh through the colander to get out any additional liquid. Set aside.
  3. In a very large bowl, stir together pesto, spinach, lemon juice, balsamic, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper. Add pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, peas, and 1/2 cup the parmesan cheese.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with other 1/2 cup of the cheese.
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Cooked pasta tossed in olive oil

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Peas thawing

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Chopped sun-dried tomatoes

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Mixing mayo, spinach, pesto, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice & red pepper flakes

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Final product!

Shrimp & Artichoke Pesto Pasta

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If you follow any previous posts – you’ll know that I love me some PESTO sauce. It is delicious. Freezes well. Goes with everything: pizza, pasta, sandwiches, dips, seafood, beef, chicken — its awesome sauce (pun fully intended). This recipe is a quick after-dinner recipe that takes about 20 minutes to make from start to sitting down to eat. Just make the pesto ahead-of time and its that easy! Use fresh shrimp if possible and either make or buy fresh pasta. Buitoni is delicious and makes a big difference. I used fettuccine is this recipe. Buon Apetito!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 – 1 cup pesto sauce
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup halved artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 package fresh pasta
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set a large pot of lightly salted water to boil on stove.
  2. Peel and devein shrimp – poo in your shrimp is bad news. 🙂
  3. Pat shrimp dry.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over shrimp.
  5. Place artichokes, Italian seasoning, and half of lemon juice in a bowl and mix. Set aside.
  6. Place onion and butter in saute pan over medium heat.
  7. Once onion is starting to cook and become soft, add in garlic and red pepper flakes.
  8. Add the other half of lemon juice and white wine.
  9. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  10. Check pasta water – add pasta and cook (if fresh pasta) for about 2 minutes in boiling water. If dry pasta, cook for approximately 8-10 minutes. When pasta is cooked, strain and cover with towel to keep warm.
  11. Add raw shrimp to saute pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  12. Once shrimp is mostly pink and starting to curl up, add in the pesto sauce and artichoke hearts. Continue to saute for another 2 or so minutes.
  13. Add in cooked pasta – do this in thirds so you can toss pasta in the sauce and add in more pesto if its needed.
  14. Once all pasta is mixed with the shrimp/artichoke/pesto sauce – its ready to go
  15. Place into serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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Raw shrimp waiting to be shelled and deveined

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Veins in shrimp = bad

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Shrimp with no veins = good

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Shrimp patted dry and sprinkled with salt and pepper

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Artichokes with Italian seasoning and lemon juice

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Onions, garlic, wine, lemon juice, red pepper flakes cooking

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Cooking shrimp!

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Added pesto to the shrimp mixture

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Artichokes added to pesto sauce and adding pasta bit by bit

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Done!

Restaurant Redo: Hideaway Pizza – Chicken Florentine

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DSC_0052 I was born and raised in Tulsa, Ok and went to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Ok. Hideaway Pizza is a pizza chain that began in Stillwater in 1957, and about 20 years later moved to other cities state-wide. Their culture was set by the owner/creator Richard Dermer who was a pizza loving hippie who wore tie-die and was seriously into flying kites. He even had a fleet of VW bugs as delivery vehicles. So cute! This laid-back, ‘keep employees happy’, try new flavor combinations, chill place is where SOOOO many delicious pizza creations were born.

I worked there for about 6 years through high school and college, and loved EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. I never got tired of pizza, still to this day I recreate them at home. Some of the friends I’ve met there have followed me through to adulthood (insert shout out to Jen Glenn and KQPierce). If you are ever in Oklahoma, you MUST go check them out.

The chicken florentine is one of my favorite pizzas on the menu, I could NOT get enough. I ate it at least one a week for like a year. I do the exact recipe here minus feta cheese. If you love feta, then add it. I just didn’t put it on this time around.  And here we go…

INGREDIENTS:

  • One ball of pizza dough – recipe here
  • 3/4 cup pesto sauce – recipe here
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup light Italian salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried and stemmed
  • 1.5 cup light mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 16 inch pizza pan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Place into container with a tight closing lid.
  2. Cover chicken with Italian dressing and balsamic vinegar. Close tight and shake. Place in fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat grill to medium, grill chicken breast about 5-6 minutes on each side or until internal temp registers 160-165 degrees . Set on cutting board, do NOT cut until ready to place on chicken. This will ensure it remains juicy.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Begin to build pizza by placing the dough onto your pizza pan. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick unless you want a thin crust pizza – but if you do want thin crust…I would cook the dough for a couple of minutes before putting on toppings to ensure it cooks all the way through.
  6. With a fork, poke holes about every inch or so around the pizza – even on the crust to ensure the dough doesn’t bubble.
  7. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread pesto sauce all over the pie leaving about a 1 inch edge for the crust. Be sure not to use too much, pesto is oily and can keep the bottom of the pie from cooking all the way through. 3/4 cup should be enough if you spread it out to a thin layer.
  8. Top the pesto with the spinach leaves, do not overlap.
  9. OPTIONAL: I top the pesto and spinach with a light layer of cheese. If so you may need a bit more than called for above – your choice but my husband loves cheese.
  10. Next, thinly slice the chicken breast – like 1/8 inch or less – and place on the pie.
  11. Top with mushrooms.
  12. Sprinkle the pie with mozzarella cheese.
  13. Sprinkle with minced garlic. This sounds like it will be crazy garlicky…but its not. If you like garlic – do it. If you don’t just leave it off. 🙂
  14. Bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown but still fluffy.
  15. Remove, and let cool for about 2-3 minutes.
  16. Slice & serve!
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Marinating Chicken Breast

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Pizza toppings

 

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Spreading pesto sauce on pizza

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Adding spinach leaves

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Optional step: Light cheese before other toppings

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Slice the chicken breast

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Top pizza with chicken breast

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Top with mushrooms

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Top pizza with cheese

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Sprinkle w/ garlic

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Final product!

Pesto Sauce

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Pesto Sauce is one of my favorite sauces, why its not a ‘mother sauce‘ I don’t know. I think they should add a 6th one for sure. Basil makes everything taste better, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic – what’s not to love?! This sauce is great on pasta, on salads, on sandwiches, and I even will serve it over cream cheese with sun dried tomatoes and crackers as an appetizer. So easy! I also use this in my chicken florentine pizza recipe. I usually make a double batch, freeze it, and pull it out to thaw while I’m at work – when I get home voila – sauce ready for use.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, pulled from stems (pack tightly into the cup)
  • 1 cup evoo
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all basil into food processor or blender. Pulse lightly a few times until roughly chopped.
  2. Add in garlic.
  3. Pulse a few more times.
  4. Turn machine on and pour in half of the olive oil.
  5. While machine is still running, add in pine nuts.
  6. Continue with remainder of olive oil and last add the cheese.
  7. After adding cheese only let the processor run for 5-10 more seconds.
  8. Stop machine – add s&p. Pulse a few more times – and pour into mason jar or container for use within a couple of days, or freeze immediately.
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Ingredients

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Basil roughly chopped in food processor

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All ingredients blended together

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Final product – this is the actual amount made w/ these measurements