Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

24 03 2015

Traditional lasagna can be time-consuming, but in this version you can save time by using store-bought or pre-made pesto, and no-boil lasagna sheets. Just because you’re saving on time though, doesn’t mean you’re skimping on the flavor. Trust me, this lasagna is totally decadent! You can make this two days in advance if you want, just store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.

I made this for a family Sunday supper and was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe. If you end up having some leftover ricotta filling like me, you can toss it with some whole wheat pasta and a little of the pasta water for another great meal or side!

Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

The following makes 10-12 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken
  • 1 package (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 box flat, no-boil lasagna sheets
  • 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

For the bechamel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and nutmeg, bring to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked chicken (simply season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic and saute in a little olive oil until cooked through) and set aside.

For the lasagna, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper.

To build, spread 2/3 cup bechamel in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Using a rubber spatula, spread some of the ricotta mixture on 3 lasagna sheets making sure they’re fully covered, then lay them side by side in the baking dish. Top lasagna with more bechamel, making sure to cover the noodles. Next top with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat laying three times or until your ingredients run out, making sure that the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Top the final layer with 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 15 more minutes, then broil on high until golden, 2-3 minutes. Let lasagna rest 15 minutes before serving.





Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

17 03 2015

This is a savory and fun take on a fruit cobbler, made with chicken and veggies. The original version topped this with cornmeal dumplings, but I substituted with polenta. You could switch out different veggies for what you have on hand, or could also use Italian sausage in place of the chicken, making this a versatile dish.

Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Granulated garlic
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can cannellini beans (15.5 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond milk or skim milk)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chicken, season with a little Italian seasoning, salt and granulated garlic. Saute until just beginning to brown, then transfer to a plate.

Add onions, broccoli and bell peppers to the skillet; cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with wine, scrapping up any brown bits, and reduce until nearly evaporated. Stir in beans, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and the cooked chicken. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Whisk together 1 cup of broth with the cornstarch and add to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted and cooked down. Season lightly with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and make the polenta.

In a small-medium saucepan, heat the water, milk and remaining cup of broth over medium-high. Bring to a slow boil, then whisk in the cornmeal. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir with a wooden spoon, constantly until thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese, mixing well, then remove from heat.

Pour the polenta evenly all over the chicken and veggie mixture, smoothing out if needed. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cobbler from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.





Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

8 01 2015

This comfy casserole will help keep you warm on a bitter cold night. There’s no flour, butter or excess cheese, so you can feel good about diving into this healthy take on mac-n-cheese!

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Food52):

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 4 cups cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small box (13 oz) whole wheat penne
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Panko breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, stock and garlic cloves to a simmer. Add cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with a little salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Add to skillet and cook until just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to bowl with pasta. Bake in the skillet, add 2-3 cups of chopped kale – add a little at a time, wilting slightly as you go. Remove sautéed kale from skillet and add to the bowl with pasta.

When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and transfer (carefully) to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the puree, a little at a time, to the bowl with the pasta, along with the goat cheese and parmesan cheese. Mix everything until well combined and the cheese melts. I added a little puree at a time as I didn’t need to use it all, and will save some for another sauce. You want everything to look really creamy with a little extra sauce mixed in as it will thicken in the oven.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with panko and more grated parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before serving.





Sesame Chicken Lo Mein

4 11 2014

Here’s a super fast and flavorful Chinese meal that you can make at home in less time than it would take you to order and pick-up take out! This is also a good recipe to switch out different veggies for what you have on hand. For instance the original recipe called for bell peppers, but I used napa cabbage instead.

Sesame Chicken Lo Mein

The following serves 4 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup halved broccoli florets
  • 1 heaping cup shredded napa cabbage or thinly sliced bell peppers
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 bundles of buckwheat noodles (from a 10 oz package, which typically contains 3 bundles)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside.

Whisk together the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. If you want it to have a little kick, add some chili flakes as well. Add chicken and chill 15 minutes.

Heat canola oil in a wok over high. Remove chicken from marinade; allow excess to drip off. Reserve marinade. Stir-fry chicken in batches, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add broccoli, cabbage and garlic to wok. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add marinade, cooked noodles and chicken, stir-fry until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with sesame seeds before serving, and lime wedges if desired.





Grilled Chicken With Chipotle-Watermelon Sauce and Grilled Corn, Pepper and Cucumber Salad

27 08 2014

Tonight’s dinner is deliciously smokey and loaded with flavor, thanks to some good seasoning, the grill and gorgeous produce from Fresh Fork Market. I have been enjoying the yellow watermelon we got in our share last week as a snack. But tonight I thought it’s sweet flesh would pair beautifully in a sauce with the smokey heat of chipotle. Oh yeah, total winner! Pair it with a cool salad packed with sweet corn and cucumber for a healthy, farm-fresh meal.

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle Watermelon Sauce and Corn Salad

The following serves 2-3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, visible fat trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated garlic
  • Ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 3 ears of sweet corn, shucked
  • 1-2 chipotles and adobo with some of the sauce (2 for more heat, 1 for less)
  • 1 heaping cup chopped yellow watermelon
  • 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 heaping cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 small garden cucumber, peeled and chopped (about 1 and 3/4 cup chopped)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Cilantro, chopped

Preheat grill to 300-ish degrees.

Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt, granulated garlic and chipotle chile pepper to taste on both sides. Set aside.

Drizzle corn with a little olive oil and grill covered, 3-5 per side, flipping occasionally, until charred all around. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Once the corn is grilled and removed, add the chicken, keeping the grill slightly ajar. Grill chicken to your liking, 5-7 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and tent with foil.

Meanwhile, pulse the chipotle in adobo and watermelon in a small food processor until pureed. If it seems a little too thick, add a splash of chicken stock to thin out. Transfer to a small saucepan and add the vinegar and a good pinch of salt to taste. Cook over low heat until bubbling, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Next work on the salad. Stand a small bowl upside down in a large bowl. Taking one ear of corn at a time (once cool enough to handle), stand it up on it’s bottom end and cut the kernels off the cob from top to bottom using a large kitchen knife. Continue all the way around until the cob is clean. Do this with all three cobs. Remove the small bowl. To the bowl with the corn kernels, add the peppers and cucumber. Season with salt to taste and a little dusting of the chipotle chile pepper. Add the lime juice, a good drizzle of olive oil and some chopped cilantro. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

To serve, dish out the corn salad. Top with a piece of chicken and finish with some of the sauce.





Grilled Chicken and Brie Pretzel Sandwich With a Black Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

23 07 2014

My Orlando pretzel bun recipe adventure continues with this beautiful grilled chicken sandwich, featuring their Pretzel Hamburger Bun! I think this is pretty original if I do say so myself!

The idea for this sandwich came together based on ingredients that I had and wanted to use up. I made the black raspberry syrup for brunch one Saturday after getting some gorgeous berries from Fresh Fork Market. I served the syrup on top of baked whole wheat pancakes which was absolutely delicious. I saved the leftover syrup, and waited for an idea to ferment. And of course, it did.

The sweet syrup paired with smoky chipotle makes for a perfectly tasty sauce, great for grilled chicken. You could eat that as a dinner on its own. But top it with melted brie and enjoy between a unique pretzel bun, and you’ll take this meal to a whole new level! Just don’t be dainty about eating it, OK gals? Throw your hair back, grab some napkins and just enjoy it! 🙂

Grilled Chicken and Brie Pretzel Sandwich With a Black Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1/2 cup black raspberry simple syrup, you could also use any other jam or preserves you have – see below on how to make the syrup. For the syrup you’ll need 1 pint berries, 1/2 cup water and sugar as well as the zest of 1 orange.
  • 1 whole chipotle with a little of the adobo sauce (start with 1/2 tsp of the adobo and taste, adding more to your liking)
  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ground chipotle chile pepper
  • Slices of brie, brought to room temp
  • 2 Orlando Pretzel Hamburger Buns
  • Whole cabbage or lettuce leaves
  • Sliced shallots

Preheat grill to high.

To make the black raspberry simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, cooking and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Add a pint of black raspberries (you could also use blueberries instead) and the zest of 1 orange. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook until berries start to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Using a strainer, strain the sauce into a jar, pushing liquid through with the back of a spoon (this will catch any seeds). Reserve 1/2 cup of the syrup for this meal, and store the rest in a tightly covered jar in the fridge. Use leftover syrup on waffles or pancakes – its delicious!

For the black raspberry-chipotle sauce, combine the 1/2 cup black raspberry syrup and the chipotle in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Season with a pinch of salt. Use an immersion blender or a small food processor to puree the sauce until smooth, and set aside.

Drizzle chicken breasts with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as a dusting of chipotle chile pepper. Grill on high heat until cooked through and juices run clear, 6-8 minutes per side. Remove chicken and top with a little of the sauce and sliced brie (use as much cheese as you like). Tent with foil to rest. This will also help the cheese melt.

Spread some of the black raspberry -chipotle sauce on the bottom and top of the pretzel buns. Add a few cabbage or lettuce leaves on top of the bottom bun. Next, add a piece of chicken that has the melted brie on it, next add the shallots and finish with the top of the pretzel bun. Add a toothpick to keep the sandwich together if needed.

This is a messy sandwich, so grab some napkins and just enjoy it! I recommend washing this deliciousness down with a Wild Blue beer!

More This Girl recipes featuring Orlando’s Pretzel Buns:

* Buns received courtesy of Orlando Baking Company. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.





Thai Cabbage Wraps With Chicken and Broccoli

22 07 2014

Tonight’s fantastically delicious and healthy dinner is a riff on a Pad Thai I made with chicken and broccoli a while back. I tweaked the recipe and made it low carb in order to use up some of our lovely Fresh Fork Market ingredients including cabbage, carrots, candy onion and green onions. You don’t always need a new recipe, try using different ingredients to make an old recipe, new!

Thai Cabbage Wraps With Chicken and Broccoli

The following makes 7-8 wraps (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat and Taylor Made):

  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Half a candy onion (or whatever onion you have), chopped
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped, green leaves removed and roughly chopped as well
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional for more heat)
  • Whole cabbage leaves rough stems removed, 7-10 total, depending on the size
  • Toasted sesame seeds and nuts, use whatever you have, for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped for garnish
  • Green onions, chopped for garnish

In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots, saute for 3 minutes or so until beginning to softened. Add the chicken and cook, tossing occasionally until cooked through. Add in the carrot greens and wilt.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add broccoli florets and quickly blanch, 1-2 minutes. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and run under cold water. Drain, and set aside.

Prepare the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, Sriracha, garlic, honey, peanut butter, juice of 1/2 a lime and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through and the carrot greens are wilted, turn the heat to medium-low. Add the broccoli and the sauce, toss to combine and let the sauce soak into the chicken and veggies, a few minutes.

To serve, dish out the chicken mixture onto cabbage leaves. Top with chopped nuts, cilantro or parsley, and green onions. Finish with a little more lime juice, or serve with lime wedges if desired.

If you have some of the leftover chicken mixture, enjoy it the next day over some shredded cabbage dressed with a little olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper – delicious!





Grilled Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

25 06 2014

This Mediterranean dinner is quick and oh so tasty! Get creative with finishing simple grilled chicken, like thinking outside the traditional sauce. Try something rustic like tapenade!

Grilled Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped (oil reserved)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp green onions, chopped
  • 4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic scapes, green onions, basil, 2 Tbsp oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with a little pinch of salt and pinch red pepper flakes. Cover and store in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour, or until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 1 Tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oil, salt to taste, pinch red pepper flakes and some parmesan cheese. Spread out in a single layer on a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Roast for 15 minutes, or until beginning to brown, rotating half way through.

Preheat grill to high.

Season chicken with 1 Tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oil, pepper and garlic powder to taste and just a little salt (don’t over salt as the tapenade will be salty). Grill on high heat until cooked through and juices run clear, 6-8 minutes per side. Remove and top with a little of the tapenade and tent with foil to rest.

Serve chicken topped with more of the sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade, garnished with feta. Enjoy with roasted broccoli.





Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

19 05 2014

Cacciatore refers to the way this chicken dish is prepared, which is typically braised in tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices and wine. In Italy, the wine used depends on the Region you’re in. The south uses red wine while the North tends to use white, making this versatile…and of course, tasty! Use the crockpot to help make Sunday supper or your weeknight dinners much easier.

Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

The following serves 2-3 (adapted from Cuisine Slow Cooker Menus):

  • 2 whole pieces of quartered, bone-in chicken (leg/thigh), skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for pasta
  • 3/4 cup dry wine, either red or white will work
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 package (8 oz) sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Half a pound of whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter substitute
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley or oregano
  • Parmesan, grated

After removing the skin, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Brown chicken on both sides in 2 Tbsp hot oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.

Deglaze pan with wine, cooking until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer wine to the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Cover cacciatore, cook until chicken is tender 3 and 1/2 hours. During the last 30 minutes, add bell pepper, season with a little salt to taste and cover. Cook until pepper is tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta, add back to the hot pot and toss with 1 – 2 Tbsp of lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes, the butter, a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and chopped parsley.

Serve up the pasta with the chicken cacciatore and sauce on top. Garnish with more fresh herbs and parmesan.





Chicken With Blueberry Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

7 05 2014

This is such a gorgeous meal, I mean look at those colors! I love food that is visually stunning like this, and was excited to whip this up when I saw it in one of my latest issues of Cuisine at Home. And I really do mean whip up – this is a perfect, speedy supper recipe for a busy weeknight.

Chicken With Blueberry Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The following serves 2 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh orange zest
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium, reduced-fat beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter substitute
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges for serving, optional

Place diced sweet potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil (cover with a lid to bring to a boil faster). Continue to boil for 10 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Cook and stir for another minute over medium heat to dry them out. Mash sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp butter and lemon juice, using a masher or immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the potatoes are boiling, work on the chicken. Cut chicken into cutlet-size pieces (cut in half horizontally) and season with salt and pepper, or red pepper flakes and a little orange zest. Saute chicken in olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until cooked through, a few minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm.

Add shallots to the same pan and saute for a minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze the pan with wine and simmer until almost evaporated. Stir in blueberries, broth, vinegar and brown sugar – bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer until blueberries begin to burst and sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp butter, then season with salt and pepper to taste. I also added a pinch of fresh orange zest right at the end. The sauce was a little thin, so next time I might not use as much broth. It will also thicken a bit if you let it sit for a minute or so before serving.

To serve, divide the mashed sweet potatoes among plates, top with sauce, following by the chicken and a little more sauce. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges if desired. Enjoy with a glass of the wine you used to cook with!