Caprese-Style Chicken Flatbread

Having just created a new twist on my flatbread-for-one recipes, I wanted to share it with my followers.

Caprese-Style Chicken Flatbread

  • 1 flatbread
  • 1/2 c chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 c spiced ricotta (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 c chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • fresh basil and parsley leaves – torn
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c shredded mozarella
  • aged balsamic vinegar – to drizzle

Heat oven to 400. I use my cast iron skillet and like to preheat it for 5 minutes while prepping the flatbread and toppings.* Brush the bottom of the flatbread with a little olive oil. Place it into the skillet and bake for 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the ricotta, followed by the chicken and tomatoes, basil, parsley and mozzarella.  Drizzle balsamic over the top and return to the oven for 5-6 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

*Flatbreads can be done on a grill pan – or right on the grill.

Spicy Ricotta – enough for 4 flatbreads

  • 1 c ricotta
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 1/4 t Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning
  • 2 t olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together. Refrigerate for an hour….overnight (even better).

Barbecue Chicken Flatbread

Lately I’m a bit obsessed with flatbreads. Often its a challenge – what to make for a delicious dinner….for one person. Enter flatbreads, something I frequently order off appetizer menus and my recent love-fest with HelloFresh has only intensified my obsession and imagination.

Today I raided the fridge for ingredients. I’d had company for several days during which I cooked great meals that left me with some amazing leftovers….this is what I created.

Barbecue Chicken Flatbread

  • 1/2-3/4 c chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 flatbread
  • 2-3 T herbed, garlic ricotta (see recipe below)
  • Grape tomatoes 6-8 sliced in half
  • 1/3 c Italian shredded cheese blend
  • Barbecue sauce
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • Italian parsley

Heat oven to 400. I used my cast iron skillet and like to preheat it for 5 minutes while prepping the flatbread and toppings. Brush the bottom of the flatbread with a little olive oil. Spread the ricotta, followed by the chicken and tomatoes. Drizzle barbecue sauce over the top, add red pepper flakes and cheese. Place into hot skillet and bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with Italian parsley. After 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.

Herbed garlic ricotta (enough for several flatbreads)

  • 1 c ricotta
  • 1-2 t garlic powder
  • fresh herbs – I used chopped chives and thyme
  • 1-2 t olive oil

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate. I like to make this at least a few hours or the night before I use it.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole (plus bonus recipes)

Chicken Parmesan Casserole      serves 6-8

  • 4 c fully cooked chicken – shredded or cubed
  • 28 oz marinara sauce (see bonus recipe below)
  • 3/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c seasoned bread crumbs (see bonus recipe below)
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh chopped basil, thymes, chives & parsley

In a large casserole dish, layer the chicken, top with the marinara sauce.  Mix the cheeses together, then layer over the sauce.  In a small bowl, mix the chopped herbs with the bread crumbs and sprinkle them on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let it rest for five minutes before serving.  I served this over herbed fusilli pasta, with Caprese Salad (recipe in yesterday’s post) and bread from our favorite Italian bakery. 

Marinara Sauce (Red Sauce) – from the Extra Virgin Cookbook

  • 28 oz can of Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • red pepper flakes – optional
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 T fresh basil – torn just before adding to the pot

Pour the tomatoes into a saucepan. Using an immersion blender to smooth the sauce breaking down the tomatoes.  For a more rustic sauce, you can crush them by hand or with a wooden spoon.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion.  Saute for 6-8 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.  If you are adding red pepper flakes, do so now as well as salt and pepper.

Add the onion and garlic mixture to the tomatoes, stir to combine and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T of fresh torn basil.

Homemade Crouton Bread Crumbs

  • 6-8 c stale bread cubed (any combination of breads)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 2 t garlic seasoning
  • 2 t Italian seasoning
  • 1 t dried rosemary – crumbled

Place the bread in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Combine the olive oil, butter and seasonings together.  Pour over the bread and toss together to coat.  Place in the oven at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove and stir the bread. Place back in the oven for at least 15 minutes more or until crunchy.  Remove and cool.  You could stop here as these are now delicious croutons but if you want scrumptious bread crumbs, place them in a ziploc bag and pulverize them with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD’S BEST CHICKEN

Tonight I’m having a couple of dear friends (former co-workers) over for dinner and a long overdue girl’s night. I’ve had my eye on a recipe for sometime whose title The World’s Best Chicken was a claim that I decided is worth testing.  I love a recipe that doesn’t require me to miss out on cocktail hour with my guests by simply baking in the oven – easy right?

The simplicity of this recipe with a few select but flavorful ingredients including fresh herbs from my garden made this the right choice for tonight.  Here’s how easy it is:

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INGREDIENTS
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 2 tenders each
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary

Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and rosemary to garnish before serving.
INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, syrup, and vinegar plus some chopped fresh rosemary and pepper.

OMG! This is so tasty...
OMG! This is so tasty…

Place chicken breasts into 9×13 lined baking dish (I doubled lined it with foil for easy clean up).

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Season with salt & lots of pepper. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. Make sure each breast is coated.

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Bake for 30 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

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Season with fresh rosemary and chopped flat leaf parsley just before serving.

Adapted from rachelschultz.com

Keshi Yena – “Chicken Stuffed Cheese”

I made quite possibly the most unusual dish in my culinary journey for last night’s dinner.  Let me recap how this came about. About 30 years ago, I traveled to Aruba with my stepbrother, meeting my dad and stepmom who were enjoying the winter at their timeshare.  I’ve always wanted to return for a romantic adventure and just last week, Spence and I committed to a 2015 autumn vacation in Aruba.  This week I’m visiting my stepmom and shared my travel plans soon after my arrival. Excited, we started talking about the food (not shocking for those who know me – a big factor in my travels) and she mentioned the Aruban dish, Keshi Yena.  By the vacant look in my eyes, she clearly deduced that I’d never heard of this.  She described it, I was intrigued.  The following morning, I’d culled a number of Pinterest recipes and reviewed them with her.  There were variances but we settled on one was closest to her memories, headed to the grocery store and made it last night. Can I just say here, OMG!  It was AMAZING.  Full of flavors, none overpowering just complimenting each other.  I dreamt about it, I awoke thinking about it. And when I go to Aruba, of course, I will seek it out.  The history relating to the origin of this dish is quite fascinating and I’ll share it following the recipe:

KESHI YENA

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces (I highly recommend a rotisserie chicken – light & dark meat, easily obtained in today’s world at most supermarkets. It truly amps up the flavor!)
  • 1 lb Gouda cheese, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cornichons, minced (small dill pickles)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped 8 green olives, sliced (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c cashews, chopped/ground – use a food processor – if not, chop very fine

Step One:  In a skillet, saute the onions and garlic in butter until they are softened.  While that’s happening, prep the other ingredients – except for the gouda – in a large bowl and gently mix together.

Step Two: Add the meat mixture to the skillet and using two wooden spoons, incorporate the onion and garlic butter into it.  Let this simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Step Three: I used a medium size, 2 inch deep oval casserole – square is fine – but deep is necessary.  Butter the casserole or baking dish.  Slicing your gouda, begin by placing a layer in the bottom of the dish – think “puzzle”, cover the bottom completely.

Step Four:  Start ladling about half the meat mixture over the cheese “puzzle” in the bottom of the dish and cover completely.  Now going around the entire rim of the dish, place slices of gouda along the inside perimeter of the dish, creating a two inch high “rim” of cheese around the edge of the meat mixture. (remember, it’s called Chicken Stuffed Cheese, you’re building up the cheese to surround the meat.)

Step Five: Add the remaining meat and complete the cheese “puzzle” on top of the casserole covering the entire top.  It will look like this:

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Notice the cheese rim along the inside edges…..

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes.  After removing from the oven, let it rest a minimum of 5 minutes before serving.

Just out of the oven, the aroma is tantalizing...
Just out of the oven, the aroma is tantalizing…it takes will power to wait those 5 minutes.

We served this in a bowl with a glass of Pinot Grigio which was the perfect pairing.

Here’s a bit of history that I found while researching the recipe, (source Huffington Post). When it came to the table, the Dutch liked their Gouda cheese, and their Edam cheese — both of them shipped to Curaçao in round formats. The Dutch “masters” couldn’t be bothered with the rind of these cheeses, so the milky-creamy part at the center of the cheese got scooped out and consumed; the hollowed-out cheese shells were returned to the kitchen as refuse. Often, the slave is wiser than the master; they certainly were in this case. The kitchen workers noticed other foods coming back from the dining room — such as pieces of chicken and other meats, left over from stews. It was a logical leap from there: Season the meats, add something a little sweet (like raisins), add some favorite island ingredients (today, olives are common), stuff the cheese shells with the meat mixture, and steam the stuffed cheeses gently in a bain-marie for a few hours. The result is a perfect marriage of cultures: the stolid creaminess of the North meets the lively spiciness of the South.