Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stuffed Chicken and Pasta

It's been a while since I've photographed my homemade recipe efforts, so I hope you'll excuse that I ended up with one good photo that I'm willing to share.  Turns out photographs of fresh whole wheat pasta are not all that appetizing.

But to the recipe!  I've been doing my best to shove vegetables into every meal I can, and kale has become a recent favorite.  It's so versatile, and with my allergy to spinach, it's the best green I can think of to use in basically any recipe.  Also, cheese.  Lots of cheese goes into this chicken.

This stuffed chicken method is really a jumping off point for so many variations.  I used the ingredients I had on hand, but feel free to use a different green (chard, spinach, mustard, arugula), or a different base veggie (onion, broccoli, potato, zucchini...), and so many different kinds of cheese (swiss, mozzarella, ricotta, brie if you're fancy, even cottage).

As for the pasta, the method I'm using below is a very shortcut-y riff on the classic cheese sauce method.  I love weeknight shortcuts.  And to take even more shortcuts, feel free to use a marinara sauce if you already have one on hand!

Kale and Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Serves 2-4

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
Pinch onion powder
4-5 leaves kale
1 clove garlic, minced
1 oz cream cheese
2 Tbs. plain yogurt
1 oz goat cheese
1/4 c. shredded cheddar
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbs. almond meal
1 Tbs. wheat flour
Pinch garlic powder

For thick chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to create two thinner filets of chicken.  For thinner chicken breasts, no cutting is necessary.  Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and pound out the chicken with a mallet, or use the heel of your hand, to get the chicken to a mostly even 1/2 inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish that will fit your chicken (I used a glass 9x5 bread pan).

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Chop the red bell pepper into small (1/8 to 1/4 inch) dice.  Add a small glug of fat (olive oil, butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil) to your skillet, and toss in your chopped pepper.  Add salt, pepper, and pinch of onion powder, and saute.  While the bell pepper cooks, remove kale off the thick stem, and chop small.  When bell pepper is getting soft (about 3-5 minutes), add kale and garlic.  Saute for a couple of minutes, then turn heat to low for the kale to continue to wilt.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and yogurt, and mix with a fork to mostly combine (it's okay if it's still a little chunky).  Add goat cheese, cheddar, and green onion, and mix together with a fork.
Note: you can really use any cheese/yogurt/milk combination.  You want some soft cheeses like cream cheese, ricotta, etc. in order to give things a creamy consistency, but use whatever you have on hand.
Add the kale and pepper mix to the cheeses, and use a fork to combine.  Or just get you hands in there to make sure everything is incorporated well.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.

Combine almond meal (or 2 Tbs. almonds, chopped as small as possible), wheat flour, and garlic powder in a bowl.  Add some salt and pepper if you like.

To assemble, lay chicken breasts out flat.  Add a dollop of the kale and cheese mixture to the center.  Roll the chicken around it, and place the chicken, seam side down, in your prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.  Sprinkle almond mixture over top to cover chicken.  Spray tops of chicken with olive oil or cooking spray.  Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve chicken with a side of creamy pasta and marinara for dipping.

Creamy Pasta and Quick Marinara
2 on-the-vine tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 Tbs. ketchup

4-8 oz pasta
2 Tbs. plain yogurt
1 Tbs. cream
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked pepper

For the marinara:  Chop the tomatoes into rough quarters or eights, then process in a blender until mostly smooth (if you like a chunky marinara, stop the blender early to ensure chunks).  Alternately, hand chop the tomatoes very small.  Pour tomatoes (and any juices on the cutting board) into a skillet (feel free to use the same skillet from the peppers and kale above!) over medium low heat.  Add garlic, basil, and ketchup.  Allow to bubble away until all other meal components are ready, but at least 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Note:  Ketchup is used to thicken things just a bit and add a touch of sweetness.  Feel free to skip on that and add a small bit of honey or brown sugar.  Or a teaspoon or two of tomato paste would work.

For the pasta:  Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt generously.  Add pasta, and cook to al dente.  Drain the majority of water off, being sure to leave just a bit in the pot (a few Tbs. up to 1/4 c.)  Add yogurt, cream, cheese, and pepper, and stir over a medium heat until everything is combined and creamy, adding salt to taste.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Favorites

Hey everyone! Lacy here, starting off some Friday favorites for this week. It's Friday, it's nice out, and Brian and I have plans to get Chinese food tonight, so I'm pretty happy about life in general. This time of year just really gets me in all those happy brain places. (there may be some help from pregnancy hormones this time around, but who can say for sure.) Here's some things I'm excited about this week!

Pregnancy has messed with my taste buds in that I rarely crave chocolate anymore. There's a bag of chocolate chips in my cupboard that I'm sure is suffering from severe abandonment issues. However, I do want all the citrus and lemon things, so this pie is especially appealing to me. Especially since it has an easy graham cracker crust.

I go through phases of being very interested and very not interested in cross stitch. It usually comes down to the thread in my current project being tangled, and me being too lazy to rethread it. I just started this pattern for baby girls nursery and I have high hopes of actually finishing it. (Additionally, since I spend a lot of time watching TV after work, this makes me feel like I'm sort of getting something done...)

Maternity overalls are a thing I want? They're proving pretty hard to track down (this pair from H&M is sold out) and I'm thinking that's the universe's way of saying "Lacy, do not squeeze your pregnant self into a pair of overalls. Really. Don't."

 The caption for this picture on Pinterest was "Cat ran out of toner". Even disregarding my love for grey cats, that was enough for me to love this shot.

Headbands! Summer! They go hand in hand. And thusly, I want to make this one.
Happy National Donut Day! I ate two in a row and followed it up with a donut hole. (Unrelated - wish me luck on my gestational diabetes test next month!)

Hey hey!  Ashley here, and I'm pretty happy about my Friday despite no one at work getting my Rolling Stones reference earlier today.  Harrumph.  Also despite my lingering nausea after suffering a bout of stomach flu (or gastroenteritis, if you're medically inclined.) Still, it's a good day.  And I get to spend my next few days prepping to make someone a wedding cake!  (I'm terrified.)

First up, rooms I'm interested in for reasons unknown to myself.

I scrolled past these photos in Apartment Therapy's feed, and on each of them, I had to scroll back up and take a second and third look.  I love the bright pops of lime (chartreuse?) green in the top photo.  So eye catching!
And maybe it's just the composition of the second photo?  But something about all the straight lines in this photo... the walls, the couch, the books and book ends... I can't stop staring.

 Solidifying herself as the coolest person I'll never meet, it turns out Audrey Hepburn had a pet deer.  I want that life.

Anthology Mag continues to post the prettiest things ever.  I have no place for these hexagonal... things.  And no use for them.  And yet... Love.

 The Line Shape Colour blog has quickly become my favorite wanderlust website.  The photos are gorgeous and completely capture the moment.  It's like I'm actually there. Sigh... this is in Kathmandu, a place I never knew I needed to go to.  Until now.

This is a photo of the "Marveilleuses" of Paris in 1908.  I just... why can't we dress like this anymore?  I mean, even back then it was considered overly decadent.  But still, I'd like to have a reason to put on a hat five times the size of my head that renders the umbrella I'm carrying completely unnecessary, but I would carry that umbrella anyway because, dang it, fashion.

And a treat for your weekend!  This sparkling cherry lemonade is going to be made the moment Lacy's pool welcomes us for a pool party.

Happy Friday, friends!  Go out and do something summery!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Impress Press On Nails: A Review by Lacy

I've tried fake nails exactly once. It was in middle school, during a sleepover. They were sooo long and made it basically impossible to deal with my contacts. I had ripped them all off by the next day because they were so irritating. I'm not sure why I decided I NEEDED to try these fake nails out, when I've had so little experience with this genre of nail care. But...I did. And here's a review for you!

The Impress Nails come in this cute bottle, and each set comes with 24 nails. (So if you can get the sizes to work out, you could get two full manicures out of this. You can probably do that math yourself, I just thought I'd point it out.)

I don't know if these necessarily take less time than just painting your nails. But I also spent a lot of time picking the sizes, and I applied them fairly slowly in an effort to get them aligned properly and all that business. Here's what they looked like before I did any filing.

I really liked the shape of these, and the fact that the standard size is considerably shorter than most fake nails I've seen. (They do offer some in longer lengths, if that's your thing.)

It also took me a little bit to get them filed down, but that's probably because my nail file is pretty crappy. I'm wondering if a metal file would be more effective than the emery board I was attempting?

The top picture is my nails after they were filed. To compare, the second photo is my actual nails, after I did a particularly good job painting them. (and yes, I'm weirdly wearing the same pants in both pictures. Considering these pictures are a good year apart, and I rarely wear those jeans, it's pretty weird.) I liked how it was relatively easy to get the fake nails to look like the shape of my actual nails. If you have really round nails naturally, you would probably  have to put a bit more effort into filing them. (assuming you even wanted them round or shorter.)

My overall grade is an A! These nails stayed on a full week (and honestly could have stayed on longer if I hadn't realized the edge of ONE nail was loose and instantly decided I needed to peel them all off). They didn't bug me like I expected, and I really loved having nice looking hands for a whole week. (I don't know about you, but my nail polish usually chips in the first couple days. And I'm too lazy to redo it for at least a week. Sometimes two...) They didn't leave any residue on my nails, and besides being a little dry, my nails seemed no worse for wear after the removal.

You can find these at Target or Walgreens. At least in Murray, Walgreens seemed to have a better selection. You can also buy them online here or here. If any of you try these out, let me know if you liked them!