Christmas Chicken

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I actually didn't make this on Christmas, and no one will arrest you if you make it at a different time of the year, but I figure any recipe that's ingredients are mostly green and red, deserves a special name.

I was inspired to make stuffed chicken when my friend, Erin, told me about a recipe she made one night. I asked her for it and assumed I'd make the same exact one for a Christmas party I attended, but as I read the recipe, a few other ideas popped into my head and it morphed into something completely different.
Fast forward a few days later...
I needed a recipe for a cheese party (insert your cackles here.) So, what does one non-cheese eating girl and her non-cheese eating bf bring to a cheese filled Christmas party? Why chicken, of course. I've made this recipe one other time since and both times it was a huge success. For the party I actually baked feta on top of the chicken, 1. because I can tolerate feta 2. it looked pretty and 3. I felt I had to contribute some kind of cheese if I wanted to be allowed into the soiree. I also cut the chicken in half after I cooked it because there was so much food at the party. If you serve it as the star for dinner you don't need to halve them.
In any case, Christmas or not, try this dish if you're looking for something a little festive to do to your chicken...serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and your peeps will be kissing you under the mistletoe all night (even in July).

Serves 4-6
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bag fresh, raw spinach, o 2 small bunches
1 bottle julienne cut sun dried tomatoes, drained
8 oz pesto, store bought or fresh
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 oz feta cheese, if desired.

Preheat oven to 325.
In a skillet, saute garlic and olive oil, add spinach in two batches, until it's soft and wilted, but not mushy. Do you really want mushy spinach? I didn't think so.
While spinach is wilting, make a slice through the middle of chicken breasts- like you're butterflying them. You want to stuff the chicken, so don't cut it all the way through, or you'll turn your 4-6 breasts into 8-12. However, if your slicing doesn't go according to plan, calm down, drink some wine, or leftover Christmas cookies, and get over it.
When spinach is cooked, turn off the stove and throw in the drained sun dried tomatoes to the spinach mixture. Divide the mixture into equal parts and shove in teh middle of your chicken. If you have some chicken causalities, just lay the mixture between each half of the chicken, like you would for a sandwich.
Place the chicken in a casserole dish, roasting pan, etc. Brush pesto on top of each breast- liberally. You want it well coated- not a spot of chicken should be seen.
Place in oven for 35 minutes.
If desired, add feta cheese after 35 minutes and throw the pan back in the oven until cheese is soft and slightly golden.
If you're an uncommon folk, I love you, and keep your chicken in the oven, without cheese for 45-50 minutes. I chose to cook the chicken at a low temperature because it was moist and tender. This means, depending on the thickness of your chicken, you may have to cook for upwards of an hour.

A Book Review: The Non-Marathoners Guide for Women

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A healthy breakfast recipe is still coming your way. I got lazy and cold these past few mornings and decided to either have a pear (exciting, I'm aware) or oatmeal- neither are blog worthy.
Instead I bring you the first ever book review on this blog. I know these posts are all about running and cooking, but you should know that my other not so secret love is reading. If you know me at all, you're rolling your eyes and adding an emphatic, "duuuuh." You will rarely see me without a book- at work, the gym, on my nightstand, in my purse, my car...and I will read just about anything (Except for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, apparently- WHY can't I make it through?!). Lately, I've been so overwhelmed with school that this cranium of mine has little desire for any "heavy" reading...maybe I just answered my own question.
My dear friend, and running inspiration gave me this book a few weeks ago.

It was just what I needed: For one, I've been in sort of a running slump as of late (anyone else suffering from it's dark and cold and leave alone-itis?) and secondly, I haven't read a really great book recently (by recently I mean in the last month.)
This book really hit the spot. I can't even tell you how many times I literally laughed out loud.
Whether you're a hard core runner, a runner who aspires to be hard core, or somewhere in between, I swear this book can connect with everyone at some point or another If you decide to pick of this gem of sarcasm and wit, please remember it is just that- a book full of sarcasm. She will definitely provide you with a dose of motivation, inspiration and a little gushy, "you can do it, reach for the stars" Girl Scout type philosophy, but her true gift is inspiring you to run based on her own hate/hate relationship with running. You'll sit there thinking, "if a girl who never even ran to the bus stop can run a marathon, I can certainly get my lazy butt outside for a 2 mile run."
Whether you're running, reading, eating or doing something less happy today (like working)...find a moment in your day to thank your body for all it does for you- even on those days when it's raining so hard that you can't muster up enough gumption to put on your shorts and hit the pavement.

"Sin"amon Rolls

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I will warn you right now...these cinnamon rolls are not healthy. But, tomorrow I will have a breakfast recipe that is the epitome of healthy, and still tasty. But for now, I will tell you how unhealthy these are: I didn't even bother to use wheat flour because 1. I didn't think it would make a bit of difference and 2. I wanted these to be so perfect, I was scared the wheat flour might mess something up.
As of late, I've become obsessed with the pioneerwoman blog. I'm sure some of you already know what it is. I live under a rock and didn't know about it until a couple of months ago.
I modify a lot of her recipes and don't bother to make the rest (she cooks with a lot of cheese and beef), but I'm addicted to reading everything she writes. She's funny, quippy and her pictures are some that I will never ever be able to aspire too...sigh. (This is not me being pessimistic, but realistic, thank you.)
In any case, a couple of months ago I made her cinnamon rolls. Then I died and realized that life was complete. Then I made them a second time the other weekend and they turned out even better.
My recipe follows hers almost to a T, but I made a couple modifications, or decreases, actually. She would probably kill me if she heard this, but I decreased the amount of butter and sugar- just way too much for me. In this recipe I've also halved her original, which makes about 4 dozen cinny rolls. My halving makes about 2 dozen. It is wise to make the entire batch because you can freeze them and trust me, you'll want them later. But, sometimes, we don't want that temptation lying around, frozen or not. Plus, I advice you to go to her recipe anyway and see her cinnamon roll post. Then explore her whole site. Finally, feel free to never come back to this blog again because looking at her blog is like eating a homemade cinnamon roll and comparatively, mine will "taste" like that store bought kind. Again,not pessimism, just fact.
Let's get on with it, shall we?

Combine 2 cups whole mike (I'm still experimenting with using low fat.), 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup sugar. Scald the mixture (get it almost boiling, but not all the way- otherwise the milk will create this weird crusty film thing on the top. Why is milk so weird?!) Then, let the mixture sit on the stove until it's lukewarm. The type of pot you use will determine how long it takes to get to this point. The outside of the pot and the actual liquid should be warm, not hot to your touch.

When the mixture is warm, add 1 packet of active dry yeast.

Let this sit for a minute while you scoop 4 cups of all purpose flour and dump it into the pot.

Cover this concoction and let it sit for an hour while you play on facebook, pay your bills, or go for a run. (I encourage the last one- helps with the guilt you'll feel later.) And while we're on the topic of running, soon I'm going to post a book review on a book about'll love it.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, 1 hour later...

Add 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir it up!

Generously flour a board, lovely granite counter top, etc. Grab your rolling pin, and flour it. (Let's pause for a funny story: The second time I made these I did it at work. I had no granite island and no rolling pin- I thought everyone owned a rolling pin. I did this on an oversized cutting board and used a drinking glass to roll the dough. It was ridiculous. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Cinnamon rolls are worth this.)

Break the dough into two balls and roll one out into a long rectangle. This is sort of a rectangle. Yes, I did actually learn my shapes in kindergarten.

You want it pretty thin, but not so thin that the dough starts to become transparent.

Now for the delicious part #1...drizzle 1/2 stick melted butter and 1/3-1/2 cup sugar onto the rectangle. Next, sprinkle cinnamon all over the dough- you can use as much or as little as you want...don't get all freaked out because i didn't give you a measurement. Roll with the freedom, my little chefs.

Grabbing the long end furthest from you, roll the dough towards you, like a jelly roll. Make sure it's pretty tight. Next, cut the dough into 3/4 inch pieces.

Repeat the rolling, sprinkling, cutting with that second ball of dough.
Place the little cuties into a well greased circular, or square baking dish. Yoiu can use glass, metal, or disposable. I like to use the disposable ones (you can get them in the baking section of the store) for two reasons. First, they usually come with lids and second, they make them easy to freeze and give away.

Let them rest for 20-30 minutes (put a towel over them, if ya like.)

Then, bake these guys at 350 for about 18 minutes, depending on how many are in there and how large they are.

We're not done yet!
While they're baking, mix 1/2 bag of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4 cup of milk. Make sure all those lumps are gone and when your rolls are cooled, drizzle on that frosting. can freeze the rolls before you bake them, take them out when you decide you need a fix, and hen bake them and frosting them.
I know this seems like a lot of steps. Okay, it IS a lot of steps, but some of them are not time invasive, and hello, they're cinnamon rolls...totally worth it.

Mini Turkey Bacon-Sweet Potato Quiches

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I am alive, I swear. I also promise that I've been running and occasionally cooking something that doesn't consist of throwing something packaged in the oven and tossing together a bagged salad. We are in the final week of school, people, and sacrifices must be made. That includes me never having enough time to get creative with meals and even less time (or brain cells) to remember to photograph what I make and then actually write about it here. See, when the only thing your classes want you to do is write...for hours on end...about your feelings, other people's feelings and the lack of everyone's's tough to muster up enough urge to go into the blogging world and, well, write .
But let's give it up because today is the LAST day of school (until January that is.) Let's celebrate that with the first of many posts headed your way.
Last weekend I co-chaired a cookie exchange- ever been to one?- for my volunteer club. This was a simple, no volunteering, "let's just have fun" event, but I had the pleasure of making a lot of the food for it.
I served two types of french toast casserole and mini turkey bacon sweet potato quiches.

Aren't they cute?
One of my major cooking problems is my issue with pie crust. I have the worst time getting it laid out and into the pie plate nicely and anyone who saw me try would take away my cooking badge and realize I am a huge fake. So, I thought, why can't I just make these quiches mini and make my life a little easier?
I can and I did.
DId I mention how cute these are? Or how cute any food is when you miniaturize it.
As if you would expect anything else from me, I did not put any cheese in these. I know, you're shocked. If you felt so inclined, I suppose you could put in some gruyere or maybe a smoked white cheddar. But, please, whatever you do, if you must add cheese, for heaven sake do not add cheddar. I think it would ruin the whole bacon sweet potato thing...these were a hit. 25 people said so.

Makes 24-28 average muffin sized quiches
The Pioneer Woman's pie crust
1 sweet potato (roasted in a 400 degree oven until tender)
1 pkg turkey bacon
1.2 onion, finely chopped
16 eggs
1/2 cup milk: you can use any kind, and/or a combo of half and half
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dill

Cook turkey bacon until slightly brown. Remove from pan and add diced onion. Cut turkey bacon and sweet potato into bite sized pieces.
Meanwhile, butter/spray your muffin tins. Take your chilled pie crust dough and form them into mini quiche cups, just like you would a large pie plate.
In a large bowl, mix up eggs, milk and seasonings. When cooled, add bacon, potato and onion to eggs. Mix well.
With a measuring cup, pour eggs into crusted muffin tins.
Bake at 375 until eggs are fully set and crust is golden, about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately with fruit salad and breakfast potatoes, if desired.