Family News and Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Three weeks have passed since I last posted here. I can’t believe it has been that long! I seriously try to write more frequently, but it seems like 3 weeks is the norm these days! Here is what’s been happening on the home front.

Last week we did indeed get the freezing temperatures that I was afraid of. Most of the gorgeous blossoms that I showed in the previous post froze when our spring-like temperatures dropped into the 20s for several nights in a row. Our plum trees had bloomed a few weeks earlier than the peaches and were already showing tiny plums. They also froze and turned black in the freezing temperatures.

We had a bridal shower for Ben’s lady. I am so glad my sister was able to come for it! And we had a birthday party for Little Miss Mia’s daddy! She really wanted to blow out all the candles by herself, so he had to discourage her!

But the best news of all was that my girl’s man came home safely from his deployment! I just love this picture!

IMG_1135

Now for the recipe! I had never made stuffed chicken breast before this try, and the guys loved it! It was not as hard as I had thought it might be. I didn’t follow a recipe, but just went by what I have read online about stuffed chicken breasts. I am sure that there are people out there who know tricks to make it easier!

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • several large hands full of fresh spinach (sorry! I didn’t measure!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 12-16 slices of bacon

Carefully slice open the chicken breasts making a small pocket in the side of each.Be careful not to slice all the way through. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the two cheeses and the heavy cream and mix well. Lightly steam the spinach to soften. Squeeze all the moisture out of the spinach and stir it into the cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the chicken breasts. Wrap each chicken breast with bacon, using about 3 slices per piece of chicken. The amount of bacon will depend on the size of each chicken breast. Place wrapped chicken in a slightly oiled pan. Bake at 350 degrees until juices are no longer pink and the bacon looks crispy, about 40 minutes. Again, baking time will depend upon the size of the chicken breasts. Thicker pieces will require longer baking time. Serve with a green salad on the side!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Of Chicken Soup and Missing Forks

I can’t believe that we are 10 days away from Thanksgiving! And finally, we have weather that actually matches the season. We’ve had temps in the 80’s for weeks on end and little to no rain since July. We are finally having night time temps in the 40’s, and we actually got 1/4 inch of rain yesterday. I know that isn’t much, but we’ll take it!

One of my favorite activities with my children when they were small was the time spent reading aloud. I loved reading out loud to my kiddos! We read book after book each morning after we had our Bible time and before we started our school lessons. One of the series of books I read was called  The Borrowers by Mary Norton. It was a fun series to read. I thought of these books recently when I discovered that some of my forks are missing. Seriously, why should my forks be missing? It makes absolutely no sense at all unless my house is infested with borrowers! Years ago, my parents bought me 12 place settings of my flatware. They did it over time…a place setting for my birthday, another one for Christmas until I had the complete set including the serving pieces. Over the summer, I began to think that I was missing some forks. I mean, really…there were only 2 of us living here for over 3 months when Sam was deployed, but I noticed that I didn’t have all the forks. I  searched other drawers thinking that someone had put them in the wrong place, and that gave me one of my dessert forks, but the dinner forks are short by 4. Instead of 12, I have only 8. And even the 2-piece child set of spoon and fork that I used with my own children, and carefully saved for my grand babies is now missing the fork. It was not missing the fork 3 months ago! It has to be the borrowers, I tell ya!

One more thing before I share the new recipe for chicken soup. This, ya’ll!!!

14938137_10154241893022950_8872454894829809836_n

I am beyond excited to have a new little pumpkin join the family in April!!

Ok, now to the recipe. I found this recipe in our local paper a few weeks ago. It is actually supposed to be chicken in a sauce to serve over pasta or rice, but as I read the recipe, I realized that it would make a wonderful creamy chicken soup…and it did!

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 large shallots, chopped

2 c. chicken broth

1 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. minced fresh oregano (I used dried)

1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme (dried)

1/2 c. cream cheese

1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 c. roughly chopped spinach

1/2 c. chopped tomatoes

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear the chicken for several minutes on each side, or until browned and just barely pink in the center. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Saute the shallots for a few minutes until they start to become tender. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the cream, oregano, and thyme. Heat until the edges of the sauce start to bubble. Stir in the cheeses until they melt. Stir in spinach and tomatoes and lightly simmer until the spinach wilts.

Return the chicken to the pan and allow it to heat through. If soup is too thick, add more chicken broth. If it isn’t creamy enough for you, add more heavy cream. Adjust flavors to your taste with salt and pepper!

 

Creamed Spinach

Even though I’ve had a sweet little grandbaby to snuggle with over the last 10 days, I have managed to prepare dinner for some friends who were visiting. I even tried a few new recipes so that I could share them here on the blog.

Several years ago we had a favorite restaurant here in town which served a wonderful creamed spinach dish. The hubby just loved it and ordered it every time we went.  The restaurant closed a few years back, and Tim hadn’t had it since.  I came across this recipe a few weeks ago over on Face Book and thought that Tim would really like it.  Unfortunately, I have no clue as to who shared it, so I can not give credit for it.  I apologize in advance if you recognize it as yours! Please let me know if it is!

3 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and drained (do not used canned spinach!)

4 tbsp. butter

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

6 tbsp. flour

2 c. milk, heated

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Squeeze out excess water from the spinach leaves and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.  Add the flour, stirring well to make a paste. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook until thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, spinach, salt and pepper. Continue stirring on low heat until the spinach is hot throughout.

This can be served immediately or refrigerated for about 24 hours.  To reheat, place uncovered in 325* oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

Crustless Mushroom Breakfast Quiche

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have oodles of cookbooks! Over the last few years, I have also collected oodles of recipes that I have printed after downloading them from the internet.  And I also have recipes that I have kept in a zip-close bag in my cupboard…just like my mom used to do! (You can read about that memory here:  https://cookbookexperiment.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/the-best-is-not-always-from-a-cookbook/

A few weeks ago, I decided that some organization of these recipes was called for.  So when I had some time alone one evening (the hubs and sons were out), I sat down and went through all those recipes.  Some I discarded because I had had them for a while and had never made them.  The others I categorized and put into page protectors.  Then I put them into a 3-ring binder with dividers.  It is so nice to be able to flip through that notebook and find the one I want!   I still kept a few special ones in that zip-close bag…can’t get myself to get rid of that particular memory of mom!

001One of the recipes that I found while organizing my recipe notebook is a low-carb breakfast quiche.  I discovered it years ago in a library book when the hubs went on a high-protein/low-carb diet for a while.  He really enjoyed it then, so I decided to make it again this morning for breakfast  I will give you the exact recipe first and then share the options that I tried when I used to make this regularly.

1 tsp. butter

1/4 c. cream or whole milk

4 oz. grated cheese

2 c. sliced mushrooms

dash of dried basil, paprika, and black pepper

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 can spinach, drained well

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie pan.  In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until scalded. Remove from heat and quickly stir in grated cheese.  When cheese is melted, add mushroom slices, basil, paprika, and pepper.  Let cool for several minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well.  Stir in spinach.  Pour into pie pan and bake at 325* until set, about 45 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.

OPTIONS:  use Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese (softened in microwave) , or cheddar cheese.  Add 1/2 lb. cooked and crumbled sausage or ground beef.  Add about 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled.  Add about 1/2 tsp. dried hot pepper powder.  One can of mushroom slices, drained works as well as fresh mushrooms.

Green Monsters and Oatmeal Smoothies

I can’t believe it has been over 10 days since I last wrote a post for this blog!  So sorry, everyone!  Summers do tend to keep us all busier than at other times of the year.  Last week, when I probably would have written a post, found me visiting my sister in Alabama.  All my guys were gone for the week, and I found myself totally alone for the first time in over 24 years.  The first day or two really were not so bad…no responsibilities was actually sort of nice!  However, I am a people person, so I made arrangements for the dog and set out on my journey.  Making that 6-hour drive alone when I was in my 20s never bothered me; but now that I am older I realize that I like company when I drive.  Anyway, I had a marvelous time getting to visit with my sister, her two daughters, and her 5 grandbabies.  The men in her life were gone for the week, too!  I stopped to see Barbi  on my way home and had a great few hours with her, too!

Today is a sad day in the Gardner kitchen.  My faithful food processor, which I bought used over 24 years ago, died this morning.  I was in the middle of chopping up ingredients for a 3rd batch of salsa when it refused to turn on.  I switched the plug to a different outlet and made sure I had all the parts on correctly, but it just wouldn’t work.  Saddness.  I had to finish the job by using the mini processor that came with my blender.

 

The other day a friend of mine shared her recipe for Green Monsters and oatmeal smoothies.  I have heard of green monsters before, but didn’t have a recipe for them.  Kate was saying how good they are and how convenient they are to grab and go when in a hurry in the mornings.  I’m not usually in a hurry in the mornings, but love these just for a change from the norm.  They are also great for these hot summer days!

The oatmeal smoothies recipe can be found here:  http://www.theyummylife.com/Oatmeal Smoothies.  I made the Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie which is just amazing!

Green Monsters:

1-2 tbsp. whole flax seeds

1 frozen banana

1-2 tbsp. peanutbutter

2 big handsful of spinach

1-1/2 c. milk

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!  Kate uses almond milk instead of cow’s milk and said it tastes great!

Treats for the Pooch!

I learned something new this week! When reading through my new Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine I kept seeing an ingredient called EVOO in quite a few of the recipes.  (I treated myself to a subscription to this magazine because I got such a great deal on it!) Not being a Rachael Ray  TV show watcher, I  had no idea what it EVOO meant.  I asked around, and still I had no answers.  So I did what any normal inquisitive person would do…I did an internet search!  EVOO came up many times…always associated with Rachael Ray.  I discovered that EVOO is what she calls extra virgin olive oil!!  If you follow Rachael Ray regularly, you probably already knew this.  I also found out that the Oxford American Dictionary added EVOO to its listings way back in 2007!  Yes, I am behind the times!

I did find a very easy recipe for puppy snacks in the current issue of the magazine!  With prices for groceries going higher almost every week, spending food dollars on dog treats is just not possible.  This little recipe uses ingredients that I have on hand and goes together very quickly.  Most importantly, my Sheltie, Rosie, just loves them!

Pupeye Spinach Snacks

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 c. quick-cooking rolled oats

2 Tbsp. grated cheese (any kind…I used parmesan.)

1 c. frozen spinach, thawed but not drained (I used canned, partially drained)

1 tbsp. EVOO

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Using your hands shape the mixture into 18 balls.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let cook. Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up 6 months.