Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bell Pepper and Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce

The original recipe was called Chicken Valentino, but I changed up that recipe because I felt like it could be better. The only original part from that one is stuffing the chicken with red bell pepper. The rest, I decided to play with a bit and recreate, so after that, "Valentino" didn't seem right. I decided to add the mozzarella, the spinach, fresh herbs instead of dried Italian seasoning, and create a garlic cream sauce to serve over top. This is a recipe I have been holding onto and found it perfect for my new kitchen debut.

I recently moved from my "chateau" at The Villas (of Katy Trail) to a new, rather spacious 1 bedroom abode. My new kitchen was the selling point of this apartment - okay, and the price, and the space of a onesie that actually fits all of my furniture, and how close I am to work.... but kitchen, DEFINITELY up there on the list. Little story for you friends - so I see this fabulous model apartment, the leasing lady comments on how beautiful it is, I comment how it matches my colors and wood furniture perfectly and ask if this is my exact model? She tells me how much I will love to come home to this every day, that this is exactly what my new home would look like, sell, sell, sell. Me? Paid deposit, signed the dotted line, ready to go.

A month and 1/2 later, it's moving day, I go to pick up my new keys to my beautiful new apartment. I get up to my new door and when I walk inside, I burst into tears. This was NOT the beautiful apartment I was shown. Same floor plan, yes, but the faux dark wood floors and beautiful kitchen cabinets of fake-mahogany wood were instead a gray linoleum floor and light blond wood cabinet. Now, this wouldn't have been an issue if that is what they had shown me in the first place and I took it because it's what I needed at the time. No, they showed and promised me something very different and that's what I expected. I'm going to use the premise of an analogy from Julia the Great in one of my top 5 all time favorite movies, it's as though I ordered Creme Brulee and got Jello for dessert (My Best Friend's Wedding, at Kimmy's parents house for the bridal brunch, after Micheal had called off the wedding...not the quote, but using food, this works well!)

So fighting back tears and trying to stay calm, I went back down to the office and said "I'm sorry, I'm a bit confused....this is not what I signed a lease for, nor the apartment I was promised" and then the flood gates opened - it was a stressful moving experience already and I just had to get a good cry out, the leasing manager just so happened to be on the receiving end of it, lucky man he was. So, to make a long story shorter than I've started into, the apartment I was promised will be available Aug 1 and I will get to move into it at that time. Until then, I am living out of boxes to avoid the unpack-only-to-repack-then-unpack-again process. BUT, I will still use my kitchen. So this is my first night to use a kitchen again since last Wednesday when the old one was packed up.

I will have another debut recipe for when I get into the right home, but gotta make-do for now. A girl's gotta eat... and in my case, that means cook!

Grocery Needs:
for chicken
2 Chicken breasts
1 box of baby spinach leaves
Olive oil
1 6 oz jar of red bell peppers
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh basil

for cream sauce
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chicken stock
Mozzarella cheese

Additional Needs:
Cutting board, knife
Oven safe dish
Small sauce pan

Let's start by pre-heating your oven to 375 degrees. Drain the bell peppers out of the jar into a colander to remove the oil.

Take your fresh basil, parsley, oregano and chives and get to chopping. Max Man has taken a liking to the new knives as well and he began chopping - make a "1 inch" measurement with your thumb and pointer finger and then grab that much from the fresh bunches to chop, then you should have your desired amount. At this time, take your drained bell peppers and cut them into long strips.

Next, cut your chicken from left to right, lengthwise, so that you have butterflied the bird.

Take your skillet, add a dash of olive oil and begin to cook 1 handful of fresh spinach. Once it is cooked, meaning nice and wilted, remove from the pan and repeat process with another handful of spinach. Each chicken will hold approximately 1 handful of spinach.

Now you see it (all)

Now you don't - The incredible shrinking greens...

Once your spinach is cooked, go ahead and sprinkle the parmesan across the chicken,

followed by the bell pepper


... then a bit of mozzarella to make it nice and "melty" inside

You will carefully fold your chicken together lengthwise while keeping the stuffed contents in place with a fork or your hand. Next, top each chicken with your fresh Italian herbs - basil, oregano, chives and parsley.

Stick in the oven and set the timer to 15 minutes (may take longer, but 15 is good to start, then cut into to check and see the progress, another 5 minutes, maybe). To speed up cook time, you can pound the chicken to make it thinner before your cook preparation.

While your chicken bakes, mince 3 cloves of garlic and put them in a sauce pan on medium heat to begin roasting.

Add 1/2 of the white wine called for at this time and the rest as you feel you need it. I tried to place a measurement for it but really just do a splash here or there, I think all in all, I ended up using 1/4 cup.

Bring this to a simmer, cooking until garlic is slightly browned, then add your heavy cream - I decided not to take the low-cal alternatives this time, I'm making a cream sauce, bring on the heavy cream! To increase the amount of sauce in the pan, I added a bit more of the white wine amount. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then I decided to add a pinch of each of my left over Italian herbs from my chicken - pinch of oregano, parsley, chives, and... okay, 2 big pinches of basil! Finally, I decided to add 1/4 cup-ish of mozzarella cheese.

Once the chicken is cooked, I set it on a bed of whole wheat angel hair pasta, then topped with the garlic cream sauce concoction and Mr. Max and I had ourselves an incredibly flavorful, filling, satisfying dinner!

Hot and fresh out of the oven!

Oh yeah, look at that... I got some new dishes :-)

Close-up! Slice the chicken into sections for a more colorful display.

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