Stuffed Pesto Chicken

I don’t know about you, but I always have trouble stuffing chicken.  Or any kind of meat, for that matter.  I’m not sure how people get them all pretty and symmetrical looking without the stuffing leaking out.  And then breading it too?!  I’d just as easy buy the frozen ones at the grocery store and call it a day.

But Pinterest, be damned!  You always make things look so easy.  And yummy.  I’ve seen this recipe for Stuffed Pesto Chicken floating around for awhile and decided to try it.  I actually already had all the ingredients – talk about a budget meal!

And, don’t pass out, but I actually followed the directions!  I pounded the chicken to make it flatter.  I even, wait for it, used toothpicks!  But alas, they were a hot mess.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, they tasted deeeeelicious, but the stuffing all leaked out everywhere.  When I tried to roll up the chicken the stuffing squeezed out and I had to stuff it all back in several times.  Even after all that, most of the stuffing leaked out into the chicken juice <shudder> while it was cooking.  Sloppy mess.

Have I mentioned I hate touching raw chicken?  Stuffing and restuffing and rolling and rerolling really tested my comfort zone.

I ended up covering the entire top of the dish with mozzarella cheese and making it a “casserole”.  Extra cheese can fix anything, right?!  They were super yummy, and I’d make them again.  But I need some stuffing chicken advice.  Anyone?  Bueller?


Stuffed Pesto Chicken
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

4 chicken breasts, flattened
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp basil pesto
4 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese + extra for sprinkling on top

1. Pound chicken breasts individually in a plastic bag with a meat mallet until they are as thin as you can get them.
2. Mix together sour cream, pesto and mozzarella.  I used “heaping” tablespoons as well.  The more stuffing the better right?  (Although this might be my issue…!)
3. Spread mixture onto each chicken breast and roll up.  Put some toothpicks in to hold the shape.
4. Place chicken in a greased glass pan.  Mine all fit in an 8×8.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375˚.
Optional: after about 20 minutes, feel free to sprinkle some extra mozzarella on top if your chicken looks ugly.

This would be a great recipe to freeze either as individual chicken breasts, or as a whole dish.  I didn’t do that this time, but definitely would be easy to do!

Another tip that I got from Kalyn was making a batch of pesto with all your garden basil.  We’ve had just a TON of basil this year and I just can’t eat it all.  I was like, well you can’t freeze basil so I guess it’ll go to waste.  Ah, duh.  I  just pinched off all my flowers on the basil plant and hopefully, assuming I did it correctly, it’ll grow more leaves and I can try my hand at making homemade pesto.  Kalyn has a delicious lemon basil recipe on her site that I can’t wait to try!


Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

It has been really hot here lately.  Like 80+ degrees and humid.  I love summer.  Love being outside in the sunshine with bare feet in the grass.  But this year the mosquitos have been so awful.  End times swarming awful.  Pretty sure it’s due to the massive flooding we had this spring.  Supposedly their life cycle is almost up, for which I am grateful.  Even though the doctor says its safe, I feel bad practically drowning my daughter in DEET!  And we just haven’t been able to enjoy the outdoors as much as we’d like to.  With that being said, we have still pretty much switched over to grilling.


It’s a summer miracle.  For this month’s meal planning, I pretty much have stuck with marinated meats for the grill and easy side dishes.  Its cheap and efficient.  And it also convinces my husband to do a lot more of the cooking!  😉  I do still spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen.  It’s not so bad though, since my company is cute.

Kitchen Helper | Jersey Up!
Mama, I found your secret stash!

I’m in love with pasta salads lately.  They’re so versatile, easy to whip up on a moment’s notice for a party or dinner off the grill, and you can sneak in a lot of veggies without too much notice.  My husband is obsessed with balsamic vinegar and so this pasta salad screamed at me off the Pinterest page.  You could easily switch up the veggies to whatever is on hand or coming up fresh from the garden.  Or change to whatever pasta is on hand.  But I love me some tortellini!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad | Jersey Up!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad
Adapted from: Newman’s Own

1 pkg frozen tortellini (or pasta of your choice)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup creamy balsamic salad dressing

1. Marinate chicken breasts overnight with balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard.  You can just marinade while you thaw your chicken breasts, or have them prepped in the freezer beforehand.  Do whatever works best for you!
2. Prepare pasta according to package directions, and set aside.
3. Grill chicken breasts.  While they’re cooking, chop up your tomatoes and spinach.  Or whatever other veggies you decide to add.
4. Cut up grilled chicken and toss with pasta, veggies and salad dressing.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour and serve.

The balsamic gives the salad a really nice bite.  I personally love meals that are all-in-one.  I don’t need a side salad or a side veggie.  It’s just all in one bowl.  Less dishes!  Less mess!  Simply the best.  Leftovers are even better, too.


Cheesy Chicken & Rice

Cheesy Chicken & Rice | Jersey Up!

This was delish! And easy! And filled us up after a nice hike in the woods. (And that was too many grammatically incorrect sentences beginning with and.)

I don’t know about where you live, but it’s been raining for weeks here!  (Not exaggerating.)  We have had record rain and record river crests.  Which unfortunately means lots (and lots and lots) of flooded homes and businesses.  Our cute little town was completely sandbagged (is that a verb?) and all you can see for miles is carpets at the curb for trash pick up.  We were very lucky and had no water in our basement, but others were not so lucky.  But, as with all things, the sun has come out again.  It’s drying up a bit and feeling more like spring.  So much so that we went on a lovely hike in the woods last evening.

Hiking | Jersey Up!
You mean I can be off leash?

Cheesy Chicken & Rice
Adapted from Southern Plate

1 onion, chopped (I buy pre-chopped frozen onions – lifesaver, I tell ya)
1 red pepper, chopped
8oz frozen corn (or canned)
4 chicken breasts (I used frozen)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box Zatarain’s Yellow Rice, prepared as directed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*If you wanted to make this ahead for the freezer, just put everything into a ziploc except the rice and cheese.  You can cook the rice up ahead of time and freeze separate or make the day of.  I made the rice the day of because I tend to run out of freezer space!

1. Add chicken, soup, onions, red pepper and corn to the crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  It might need a little longer if its frozen.
2. At this point you can either remove your chicken and shred (use your stand mixer!) or you can cut it up into chunks.
3. Add cheese and prepared rice.  Let the cheese melt and the flavors meld together – another half hour or so.

Did I tell you easy or what?  The cheesy goodness was too hard to pass up seconds.  Serve with a side salad.  And beer (of course).  You don’t think I did all that walking for nothing, did you?


BBQ Chicken Pizza (Spring Break Edition)

BBQ Chicken Pizza | Jersey Up!
We had to make two. Don’t judge us.

My brother and his girlfriend came to visit for their spring break. Michigan is not exactly a springy destination when you want to escape the snow…ahem…but we were excited to host them nonetheless! Because it was their spring break, my husband made us do a different shot every night. Some of them were normal (ie tequila) and others were strange like mind erasers. I haven’t even HEARD the words mind eraser in probably 10 years. Maybe I shouldn’t admit I’m that uncool…

Anyway, their visit was a perfect excuse to try some new recipes. Particularly junk food/snacks. Before I give you the recipe for this pizza, I must admit to you that I’m a pizza purist. What does that mean? Plain. For you non-Jersey folks, that’s sauce and cheese and crust. The end. No crazy toppings. Ick. And pizza WITHOUT tomato sauce?! You’re kidding right? At least it has cheese.

Dare I admit that this pizza was GOOD. So good in fact we decide to make a second pizza….

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Adapted from Marshalls Abroad
Her pictures are so much better, so use those to entice you to make this recipe!

1 lb pizza dough (if you aren’t making homemade I definitely recommend frozen)
2 chicken breasts, pre-cooked and shredded or diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (dare I say I use what’s on sale?)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Fresh cilantro for garnish
1. If you are using a pizza stone, preheat your oven or grill (don’t you grill pizza, too?) with the stone inside to 500˚.
2. Toss your chicken with BBQ sauce and set aside. (I recommend marinating it for awhile beforehand in the fridge but it’s not necessary.)
3. Roll out your dough on a well floured surface into the shape and thickness you prefer (or to what your skills allow).
4. Sprinkle some cornmeal on your heated pizza stone (good pizza secret!) and lay out your dough.
5. Drizzle dough with olive oil. Top with chicken, cheese, garlic, onions and extra BBQ sauce.
6. Bake in the oven or on your grill for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
7. Wait a few minutes (if you can!) for the pizza to cool before cutting it to avoid losing all your cheese and dose up some cilantro.

If you’re doing monthly meals, you can make the chicken ahead of time and have the rest of your ingredients chopped and ready to go to thaw in the freezer. A lot of times I will cook several pounds of chicken breasts at once, shred or dice, and freeze in batches to use in other recipes. Or if I have a plan for the chicken already, I can add it to a bag of veggies and sauce, or some lunch tacos, or whatever. Chicken, as I’m sure you know, is very versatile. We use it all the time.


Balsamic Chicken

I am basically testing out the app on my phone, and as a result you get a bonus post!!

I got this idea off Pinterest (I’m sure you’ve seen it) but I didn’t follow the recipe at all. I know this is supposed to be the golden rule of cooking…but I hardly ever follow recipes exactly.  And I’ve gotten better at cooking!  I don’t know about you, but this is surprising.  Maybe that’s the secret of all great cooks: winging it.  Aha!  I’ve figured it out!

So, I winged this recipe, and it came out great!  Smelled awesome…and is great by itself or paired with some pasta or garlic bread.  If you’re not interested in winging it quite yet, here’s an estimation of what I did so you can try to recreate it!

Balsamic Chicken | Jersey Up!
I’m working on my photography skills.

Balsamic Chicken
Adapted from Amazing Pinterest World

6 chicken breasts (frozen ready to cook worked great)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (really any tomatoes you have would work fine)
1 pkg fresh basil (or if you only have dried I think it would work out okay too)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup mozzarella cheese

1. Prepare 13×9 glass baking pan and preheat oven to 350˚
2. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the pan.  Cover with chopped tomatoes and basil.
3. Sprinkle entire dish with balsamic vinegar.
4. Bake for about a half hour until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the flavors meld.  Cover dish in mozzarella and brown cheese for another 10-15 minutes.
5. Serve with garlic bread and/or pasta!  Yummy!


Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

I’m assuming you’ve seen this on Pinterest?  They looked delicious in the picture (doesn’t everything?) and didn’t seem too hard.  Plus they included melty cheese and alfredo sauce.  How can you go wrong?  Still, they didn’t turn out as I imagined.

I followed the recipe but not the advice in the article to not use jar alfredo sauce.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to melt cheese (which I’m not good at, turns out).  Maybe it was the cheap store-brand alfredo sauce I got?  Or perhaps my lack of measuring ingredients.  (Read: lazy).  Either way it left something to be desired.  Was kind of flavorless.

I’m guessing I could have put more effort into the dish to make it better: season the chicken before cooking, make my own alfredo sauce, and probably actually FOLLOW the recipe.

I even skimped on the garlic bread.  Who am I?

Pictures can, in fact, be deceiving.

Probably will file under “do not make again” – there, now you don’t have to try it!