Making-Do With What Ya Got: Stuffed Chicken Caprese
By 3monkeys on October 16, 2012
Chicken Caprese - 3 Monkey's and a Martini Style
I have several go-to meals... mostly because they are easy to make and easy to plan for, and they don't take a lot of weird ingredients I would have to actually write down and plan to get when grocery shopping. And although I do try to plan our meals for the week, I often find myself shocked at how quickly we go through the foodstuffs I planned to have on hand later in the week to make those menu meals. And Mr. Martini and I live on a tight budget (we plan to pay off $30,000 in debt by Christmas! Whoot Whoot!), so we don't really allow ourselves the luxury of just going to the grocery for all the ingredients need to make paella just because it's on the menu. And sometimes our budget gets cinched even more and our weekly trip gets cut to bi-weekly which means, if we ain't got it, we ain't gonna get it for days!
So during the tighter weeks we tend to have some pretty creative, easy dishes that I did not plan for but maybe should have (or will in the future). Why? Because I gotta use what I got, and that requires thought...something I try to steer clear of whenever possible. So that means sifting through the half-open boxes of whatnot and finding random cans of "didn't know we had that's" and putting together a meal that is healthy, yummy, and new to the menu rotation.
Last night's Stuffed Chicken Caprese was just one of those meals. Here is me: I have two frozen chicken breasts, and I would sell a kidney for some Italian food right now. Hmmm... canned diced tomatoes, half a bag of shredded mozzarella, left over Genoa Salami and roasted red peppers from bruschetta two weeks ago (it's gotta still be good, right?), half a head of garlic, and fresh basil from my herb garden which is on it's last legs (SCORE!). Bam! Dinner is served! And looks pretty impressive, even if it was a foraged meal ;)
LET'S GET COOKING!!
2 chicken breasts, thawed if frozen and butterflied
10 (or so) fresh basil leaves (no fresh, no prob, just sub in dried)
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella (fresh would be better, but use what you got)
1 roasted red pepper, diced finely
4 slices Genoa Salami (no Genoa, no prob, just sub it out with prosciutto or eliminate it. No one will know they're missing it).
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped finely
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
Preheat oven to 350
Place 2 pieces of salami on each chicken breast. Top each with roughly 3 basil leaves, 1/4 cup mozzarella, half the roasted red peppers, and fold so the breast looks like a half-sandwich.
Folded Chicken... just in case that didn't make any sense.
Season with salt and pepper. In a deep oven-safe sauce pan, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add your chicken breasts. Cook on one side roughly 5 minutes (you are trying to get a nice golden color, not trying to cook it through). Turn the chicken over, being careful not to let it spill out all it's goodness, and put the pan in the oven for about 20 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through and your cheese is all melty. About 5 minutes before it's done, top each breast with the remaining cheese to melt in the oven.
While the chicken is getting all happy in the oven, Chiffonade your basil (OOOH, fancy pants alert!! I've seen Top Chef, watch out!!). Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan and cook garlic until it is all soft and fragrant. Be careful not to burn it, or it will taste bitter. Add the canned tomatoes and oregano, and a little black pepper (crushed red pepper would be excellent too if your husband doesn't have heart palpitations at the thought of anything remotely spicy like mine does). Cook for about 5-8 minutes until it smells yummy and everything is heated through and combined.
Top your chicken with the tomatoes and Voila! Add a chopped lettuce salad and you've got a yummy, fancy-looking, super easy dinner, and no one has to know you didn't plan it :)
What recipes would you add to the regular rotation that you had to come up with on the fly? I'd love to get more ideas!
Find more fast, frugal, and funny recipes at http://3monkeysandamartini.blogspot.com