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Spinach, Artichoke, and Provolone Stuffed Chicken Breasts

The other day, I was feeling a little creative in the kitchen.  I had some cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, and chicken, so I decided to throw them all together and make a stuffed chicken breast.  I usually don't think quick on my feet in the kitchen, and I always feel like I need to be following a recipe, so I surprised myself on this one.  The end result was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.  I did end up cutting the one chicken breast a little bit too thin on one side, so some of the filling fell out, but that didn't change the fact that this tasted pretty delicious!

2 Chicken Breasts, butterflied
2 slices Provolone Cheese
1 small jar Artichoke Hearts (3-4 per chicken breast)
Handful of Fresh Spinach
1/2 cup Flour
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

In a shallow bowl, mix the salt, pepper, and flour.  In another shallow bowl, beat the egg with a splash of water.  Place the bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl.  Butterfly each chicken breast.  Top with a piece of provolone, a handful of spinach, and a few artichoke hearts.  Roll the chicken, using toothpicks to secure each piece.  Dip the chicken in the bowl of flour and shake of any excess.  Then, dip the chicken in the egg, followed by the bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an oven proof skillet.  Place each chicken breast in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, turning to make sure each side becomes browned.  Remove the chicken from the heat and place the skillet in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.  Bake the chicken until it is cooked through to 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20-25 minutes.  


Pumpkin Soup

Here is another installment of the weekly recipe swap.  This week's theme was soup and stew, which got me very excited because there may not be another food I like more in the fall and winter!  I received this pumpkin soup recipe from Does Not Cook Well With Others.  I was very intrigued because I had never eaten, and certainly never made, a soup from pumpkin before.  I wasn't too sure about how the flavors were going to taste together.  Quite honestly, I put this recipe off until the last minute because in my mind, I had a flavor for how this soup would taste and I wasn't looking forward to it.  Well, then I made the soup.  It was NOTHING like what I had thought it might be.  In fact, it was amazing!  The color, taste, and smell was like putting everything I love about fall into one little bowl.  This recipe is a keeper, for sure!!

1 cup Onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 a medium onion)
2 tablespoons Butter
4 cups Vegetable Broth
1 can (15 ounces) Pumpkin Puree
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/8 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Heavy Cream
Scallions, optional

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the chopped onion until tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of broth and bring to a boil.  Once it has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from heat and puree the onions and broth until smooth using an immersion blender.  Add the remaining 2 cups of broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar.  Stir until all the ingredients are blended.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the heavy cream and heat through, being careful not to let it come to a boil.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with thinly sliced scallions (optional).


Tuscan Garlic Chicken

The other day, Joel mentioned something about how he liked fettuccine alfredo but wouldn't be upset if he never had it again because of how unhealthy it is.  Then, I found this recipe on Prevention RD, adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and More of America's Most Wanted Recipes.  This recipe is a lot less unhealthy than alfredo sauce is, and honestly, more delicious!  It made for a pretty quick weeknight meal, and great leftovers for lunch the next day.

1/2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
5 (4 ounce each) Chicken Breasts
3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced (4-5 cloves)
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth
6 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach
1/2 cup Half and Half
4 teaspoons Cornstarch
2 cups Milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
10 ounces Linguine or Fettuccine Noodles

In a shallow pie plate, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.  Dip each piece of chicken in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.  In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering.  Carefully place each of the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are golden and browned, but not cooked all the way through.  Remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the chicken in completely cooked through.  Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.  While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until they are al dente.  Additionally, wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to medium heat, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sautéing for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute.  Add the broth to the skillet and simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  In a small liquid measure, whisk together the corn starch and half and half.  Add the spinach, milk, and corn starch mixture to the skillet.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot.  Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce.  Place the pasta on each plate and top with breaded chicken breast.  Spoon some of the cheese sauce over the top of the chicken breast and serve immediately.


Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

We like squash.  In the fall and winter, I love to get acorn squash and roast it with brown sugar and butter.  However, I always welcome new methods for preparing acorn squash, especially when they tend to be more savory than sweet.  I found this recipe from Noble Pig, originally from Real Simple, and gave it a try this past week.  By slicing the squash, it took less time to roast than when I only halve it, which made it a week-night friendly side dish.  This was such a simple and delicious way to prepare squash.  I'm so glad that it is only the beginning of the fall season, because I look forward to making this again and again!

1 (2 pound) Acorn or Delicata Squash, halved, seeded, and sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme (I used a few pinches of dried)
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoons pepper.  Sprinkle the top with the parmesan.  Roast the squash at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is golden brown and tender.


Arugula Pesto

After 2 years of looking, Joel finally found the perfect job.  And the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  He was offered the job on our 2 year wedding anniversary!  So, when he "moved in" to his office, he found that a Giada De Laurentiis cookbook was left behind by a previous employee.  It wasn't claimed for 2 weeks, so he brought it home to me.  Though the book doesn't "wow" me, there are a few easy recipes that I saw as I flipped through the pages.  Sunday evening, we had a concert to go to, so we had to find a quick meal that wouldn't be too heavy in our stomachs as we sat.  I found a recipe for arugula pesto and, since we had arugula in the fridge to use up, I decided to make the pesto and pair it with some whole wheat pasta.  What a quick and delicious meal!

2 cups Arugula, packed
1 Garlic Clove
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon Salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, plus more to taste
12 ounces Pasta Shapes

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the arugula and garlic until finely chopped.  With the machine running, gradually add the oil, processing until well blended.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.

*This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, which will serve 4 over 12 ounces of pasta.  It can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, kept covered in the fridge.