Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts.

If you can’t have comfort food during the Apocalypse, when can you have it?

Do I really need to write something descriptive about chicken breasts stuffed with ooey gooey cheese and yummy jalapeño? Let’s talk instead about how long it took me to figure out how to get that little squiggley accent mark (it’s called a tilde, by the way) over the “n” in jalapeño. Good grief, and I have a degree in Spanish?

Anyway, this recipe was born out of a deep need for something yummy and different for dinner. Although this recipe is far from “different”, it’s not in our usual repertorio, so I am allowed to act like it’s brand new. It’s also great for people who are limiting carbs. I paired it with spaghetti squash mixed with peppers and onions and served it with a side of avocado (aguacate is one of my favorite Spanish words. Ask my husband.) and sour cream.

The instructions for this are very simple so I didn’t take photos of the process. Here is what ours looked like before it went into the oven. They remind me of little mummies:

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I did these in a square baking dish but hind site tells me they would have done better on a rack over a sheet pan. Next time, grasshoppah…..next time.

At the last minute I decided to drizzle maple syrup over the bacon to add a little bit more flavor.

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After they come out of the oven, let them rest before slicing, otherwise you will have cheese oozing out all over.

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Hungry yet? (¿Tienes hambre todavia?)

I intentionally bought more jalapeño’s than I needed and I doubled my stuffing mixture so I could make some actual jalapeño poppers at the same time. When they were all made, I put them on a sheet pan and froze them over night. This morning I took them out and put them in a freezer bag so we’ll have them when we want them later.

Adios Amigos!


 

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken for Two

Ingredients:

Two large chicken breasts

Stuffing mixture:
4 oz. softened cream cheese
¼ cup sour cream (optional)
2 large jalapeno’s, diced
¾ cup grated Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup chopped cilantro (fresh)
1 garlic clove, grated
S & P to taste
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (Use what you like)

1 lb. bacon (Use what you like although thin slices work best)
Maple Syrup (Optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Rinse and the chicken breasts dry. Cut a deep slit in each one to make a pocket for the cheese mixture. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of each breast. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine all of the stuffing mixture ingredients. I usually microwave the completed mixture and stir well to combine. If it’s too runny, put it in the refrigerator before trying to stuff the chicken with it. You want it to be pliable but not loose.

Stuff the breasts liberally with the cheese mixture but do not over-stuff. You want to be able to close them.

Wrap each breast tightly with as many strips of bacon needed to cover. (It’s bacon! Use a LOT!)

Brush maple syrup over all over the bacon. (You’re welcome in advance.)

For best results place the breasts on a greased rack over a sheet pan. IF you don’t have this, use a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes, then flip and bake 15 minutes more. If you are using a baking dish, you may want to use a turkey baster to suck out excess juices.

Finally, if you want the bacon to be very crispy, flip the chicken back over and broil it on high for 2-3 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY so it doesn’t burn.

Let rest 10 minutes or more before slicing.

 

Seriously, Spaghetti alle Vongole!

This dish was so fun to make and turned out so beautifully, I can’t stop smiling about it. This would be great to serve fora dinner party! Don’t forget the bread!

I seriously cannot believe I made this dish! To me, there is something so beautiful about simple food. Basically this dish is clams in a white sauce with tomatoes over pasta. It doesn’t get more basic. I adore the way seafood looks, especially clams and mussels, and this dish is a wizz-bang-show-stopper! I mean, just look at the colors! I loved every part of making this meal and I certainly plan on doing it again!

We started at the fish market. I am a clam virgin so I relied on the fish monger to explain them to me. Turns out, clams are not cheap, so he suggested we buy just the meat to get more bang for our money. I wanted the real deal, so we bought both. I can’t imagine making this dish without the clams in their shells; it’s half the fun!

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As soon as we got home, I put them in a bowl of cold water, sprinkled in some semolina, and let them sit in the refrigerator until dinner. Supposedly, the semolina makes the clams open up and spit out any sand they might be holding onto. (Black pepper works as well.)

Step one of this dish was to prepare my ingredients. I sliced half of my tomatoes and left the other half whole; chopped my parsley; then I smashed my garlic and prepared my pasta and set it aside. (They say to wait until the last minute to chop the parsley so it is as fresh as possible. I’ll do that next time. I was nervous about making this dish so I wanted everything prepared ahead.)

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When I was ready, I heated my olive oil to medium, and then added in the garlic and red pepper flakes. This cooked until fragrant (oh and it was a beautiful aroma!) about two minutes.

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Then came the tomatoes. (Isn’t this pretty? I loved the colors!) The point here is to blister them in the oil. It takes about five minutes.

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Here is a silly video of the tomatoes blistering:

Next comes the wine! I used a Sauvignon Blanc. They say to only cook with a wine you would drink so I followed the rules to the letter. This was left to come up to a boil. (Took about a minute.)

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The clams go in next! Then the pot gets covered for two minutes in order to steam them. (I swear to you, I’m feeling giddy typing this out. I had some much fun doing this!)

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I was a little bit uncertain about when to add the extra clam meat, so I opted to wait until I could see the clams starting to open. I was really afraid of over-cooking them. No one wants to bite into a rubber clam!

Here they have started to open up, so this is the point where I dropped in the other clam meat.

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This is another silly video that captures my giddiness!

Finally, it’s time to add in the pasta. We used angel hair pasta, which is our favorite. The recipe calls for spaghetti or linguine, but I ignored that part. The important part was not to cook the pasta all the way through because it continues to cook in the sauce. Thankfully, I managed to get it right.

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Lastly, the fresh parsley goes in, the heat goes off and then the cheese goes on.

Voila! How gorgeous is this!!!

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Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (we used angel hair pasta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
8 ounces very small cherry tomatoes, roughly crushed with your hands, or regular cherry tomatoes, halved (I sliced half of the tomatoes in half and left the other whole & I didn’t crush them.)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc)
48 tiny clams such as cockles or vongole (We used 24 clams & a pound of frozen clam meat, thawed)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (salty like the sea!) and the pasta and stir to separate. Cook until a few minutes shy of al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add the clams and cover for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the clams open. Discard unopened clams.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the parsley, cheese and butter. Cook, tossing and stirring and drizzling with olive oil, until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is silky and thickened. Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and parsley.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you don’t serve this with a loaf of crusty bread, you will seriously regret it!

How do I know this? We forgot and seriously regretted it! The sauce is divine and crusty bread would have been perfect for sopping it up!