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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Easy like Sunday Chili

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FullSizeRender-4I’ve won TWO chili competitions at work, and those recipes are pretty in-depth. They take a llllloooooonnnnnnggggg time to make, are really complex, have many ingredients – and sometimes, I just want chili and I want it NOW. I want comfort food that taste like it took a lot of work and time. I needed to create a super simple and quick recipe that got me amazing chili but fast. THIS is that recipe.

It takes total time about 2 hours from start to eating – which isn’t bad considering the longer chili stews, the better the flavor. This recipe works because the flavors can meld and saturate in the 1.5 hours. You can let it stew longer if you want, but 1.5 hours does the trick. Lets get started so you can make some chili.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion – medium dice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 – 15 oz cans plain tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 oz can chopped tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans – rinsed
  • 1 can black beans – rinsed (I used cuban style black beans which has onions and green peppers included)
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beer (8 oz)
  • 1 cup beef broth (8 oz)
  • 2 tbsp bbq sauce (something on the sweet/mild/smokey side – not spicy)
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 10-12 inch skillet.
  2. Add onions and ground beef and garlic. Saute until all beef is browned. Pour off the fat grease and put the cooked meat/onions/garlic in bottom of large stock pot. Discard skillet.
  3. Open can of chipotle peppers, remove 3 peppers and chop to a small dice. If you like spicy chili you can add another pepper or add more adobo sauce. You can also add this at the end if you want to to the taste/see on the spice level.
  4. Turn up heat under the stock pot to medium-high.
  5. To the meat mixture in the stock pot, add ALL other ingredients including the chipotle peppers.
  6. Mix all ingredients well.
  7. Heat until the mixture begins to bubble/boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1.5 – 3 hours.
  8. Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese. I also serve with Fritos or tortilla chips.
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Raw meat, onions and garlic

 

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Browning beef, onions and garlic

 

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All ingredients in the pot – ready to stir

 

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Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce – about to chop

 

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Final product

 

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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!

Restaurant Redo: Bread with Tomato spread & Jamon Serrano

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This is another restaurant inspiration from Jaleo – a tapas restaurant my husband and I visited when on a recent trip to DC. This is a pretty simple recipe, but simple is good and simple is awesome. You can make these portions as large or as small as you want. I created a couple of other items we had at Jaleo: apple/fennel salad and cauliflower w/ dates and olives. I made all of these for dinner one night when I had friends over – it took me right back to being in Jose’s restaurant in DC. I am still loving every bite!

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Restaurant dish – my inspiration

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My tapas spread at home – recreating all of the dishes we had a Jaleo

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 slices of bread – I suggest a farm-to-market bread, crusty sourdough is best
  • 1/4 lb of jamon serrano – you can purchase at a nice grocery store or specialty store deli
  • 3 ripe tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tsp or so EVOO
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Half tomatoes crosswise
  2. Grate face of the tomato into a bowl. Discard skins.
  3. Strain the tomato mix through a mesh strainer. Discard the juice. If you don’t the tomato spread will be too thin and watery.
  4. Into the tomato mixture add in olive oil, salt and pepper (to your liking)
  5. Toast bread – important so that the bread doesn’t immediately absorb the tomato spread
  6. On one face of the bread spread however much tomato mixture as you like.
  7. Layer on 4-6 pieces of ham on each open face of bread
  8. Serve!
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Half tomatoes cross-wise

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Grating the face of the tomato into a bowl

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Discarding the skins

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Tomatoes after grating

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Straining the tomato mixture into bowl

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Adding olive oil and S&P

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Jamon Serrano

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Bread, layered with tomato and jamon serrano

Simple Caprese Salad (avocado optional)

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IMG_3466I like to spend money, especially on beauty items, beauty treatments and clothing/shoes/accessories. Such odd behavior for a female right? I work to trim my part of the household budget by not eating breakfast or lunch out. This is also a great way to cut calories during the day and allows me to eat dinners that may be slightly higher in calories. Sometimes after a long day a girl just wants CREAM SAUCE for dinner!!!!

Since I bring lunch to work, I have to choose food items that do well with the kitchen tools I have at work: fridge, microwave, basic silverware and toaster oven. This caprese salad is a little unorthodox since I use cherry tomatoes vs. slicing vine ripened tomatoes. As I usually take a double or triple batch of salad for the whole week, the cherry tomatoes hold up a little better once they are halved and placed in the fridge.

If avocados are in season, I will chop one at the office and add it to the salad. This is freaking yummy and if you really want to replace calories w/ better calories, the avocado can replace the cheese but keeps the creaminess. I sometimes will take ciabatta bread or even a bagel thin to eat with the salad for a firm texture and to get a few carbs. I highly recommend this for lunch, for a quick snack or even for an appetizer that will impress friends with its freshness!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 carton cherubs (about 1.5 cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/2 ball fresh mozzarella (sliced into rings, then sliced into strips, then cut into small cubes about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch)
  • 2 -3 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I use 3 but I looove basil)
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste (I use a good pinch of salt and about 1 tsp pepper)
  • Chopped avocado (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Slice all cherry tomatoes in half (check THIS out – its a great hack on cutting cherry tomatoes)
  • Place tomatoes, cubed cheese, basil, evoo, balsamic, salt, & pepper into small bowl with tight-fitting lid.
  • Roll bowl around slowly and gently to mix the ingredients without puncturing or damaging the tomatoes. Do this for about 1 minute – turning on its head, sides, etc. – just rolling gently to mix.
  • Taste – then add in more salt, pepper, olive or balsamic. Everyone likes a bit more of one ingredient.
  • Remove lid and stir in avocado if using
  • Serve with bread if using
  • ENJOY!
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Tomatoes halved and cheese cubes in small bowl

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Chopped basil

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All ingredients (minus avocado) in bowl

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All ingredients slowly tossed in bowl with lid on

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Final product – take to work or enjoy immediately!