Chicken Marbella

Boy things have been busy for Mark and I lately!  Earlier in November we traveled to the Washington D.C. area to watch my younger sister graduate from college and then a week later we took off to Florida for a week to see family over Thanksgiving.  Mark and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  For the first time ever I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my Aunt, Uncle and Grandma from Florida.  Being with my extended family over the holidays is always a great reminder about what is important in life!  I hope each and everyone of you had a great Thanksgiving.

While in Florida we were able to see my Sister-In-Law and her family who live right outside Orlando.  Since we flew into Orlando we decided that we would have dinner and stay the night with then before taking off to the Tampa area for Thanksgiving. We arrived in town around 6:00 pm and as we walked into their house  this amazing smell instantly smacked you right in the face.  With the amazing smells that were coming from the kitchen I could have sworn my sister-in-law had to have been in the kitchen all day long slaving away cooking dinner.

As we sat down to eat she pulled a large baking dish out of the oven that had chicken swimming in a sauce with prunes and olives that she put in the middle of the table.  I sat there almost drooling on myself it smells and looked so good!  After saying grace we dug in and I have to say that this is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.  The chicken is amazingly moist and tender to the point where it just falls apart with your fork.  The sauce — oh the sauce — I was literally spooning the sauce right out of the pan and into my mouth it was that delicious.

Since getting home a little over a week ago I have already made this dish twice.  Yes, I promise you it is that good!  My sister-in-law served this with smashed potatoes but I love serving it with rice.  Spooning the sauce over the rice just gives the rice this amazing flavor that even Mark — who is not a fan of rice — cannot get enough of!

A few notes — make sure you marinate the chicken overnight.  Do not take a short cut and try to make this recipe all in one night.  I promise you it will not taste the same and marinading the chicken is easy and completely worth it!  Plus it means that all you have to do is pull the chicken out, put it in the baking dish and bake for about an hour and — Ta Da — an amazing dinner with basically no effort!  The original recipe calls for using chicken breasts and I know a lot of people use regular chicken thighs or legs; however, Mark does not like chicken with the bone in it and I do not think the chicken breast gets as tender as the boneless thighs while cooking.  If you are going to back this dish with bone-in chicken you will need to add additional cooking time.

I know without a doubt this is coming to become a staple in our monthly meal rotation.  I am already dreaming of the leftovers sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated for dinner tonight!

Enjoy!!!

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Chicken Marbella
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Ingredients:
10 boneless chicken thighs
1 head of garlic, chopped
¼ cup dried oregano
Salt and pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
¾ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers, with 1-2 tablespoons of the caper juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white wine

Directions:
In a large bowl add the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, prunes, green olives, capers and bay leaves and stir to combine.   Add the chicken thighs and stir to cover the chicken with the marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9×13 pan arrange the chicken in a single layer and spoon the marinade over the chicken evenly.  Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and the pour the white wine over the top of the chicken.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, basting once or twice while baking.  Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, enjoy!

Source: a recipe  by Harrison and Sydney Autebach in a Taste of Home Cooking Cookbook.  

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Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna

Lasagna — what isn’t there to love about lasagna?  There are so many different ways to make it — from the traditional meat lasagna to a spicy southwestern black bean and corn lasagna.  I know plenty of people who avoid making lasagna because they consider it time consuming, but in the end making lasagna does not take that much work and it really is worth every minute it takes — specially this Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna.

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna II

This lasagna is rich, hearty and most importantly cheese!!  The homemade white cheese sauce is to die for and using the broiler at the end of baking gives the lasagna this golden brown and crispy delicious crust.  This is the perfect lasagna to make for your next dinner gathering where you can break out the wine and enjoy spending time with your family and friends!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna
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Ingredients:
9 Lasagna Noodles (not the oven-ready kind)
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cups Milk
4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Cooked Chicken, shredded or cubed
1 Package (10 ounces) Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and well drained
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:
Fill a large stock about half way full with water, salt lightly and bring to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. When the noodles are done drain them in a strainer, rinse them with cold water, and set them aside.

In the meantime, in a medium sized mixing bowl add your chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper stirring to combine. Then add the ricotta cheese and stir again until the mixture is well combine.

Pre-heat the oven to 350◦.

Once the noodles are done cooking, dry the stock pot and place the pot over medium heat melting the butter. Cook the onion and the garlic in the butter until the onions are tender and begin to get translucent, which will take 3-5 minutes. Stir the flour and the salt and summer the mixture until it is nice and bubbly. Slowly add the chicken broth and the milk, bringing the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Stir in 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Once the cheese is melted remove from the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a 9″x13″ back dish or a lasagna pan spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan. Next lay down three of the lasagna noodles side by side and top those with the chicken and ricotta cheese mixture. Lay down three more noodles side by side on top of the chicken mixture and then spread 1/4 of the sauce mixture over the noodles. Evenly spread the spinach, remaining 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese over the sauce. Lay down the remaining three lasagna noodles side by side and spread the remaining sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the top with the chopped parsley and the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the oven uncovered. The last remaining 3-4 minutes turn on the broiler to high to make the top nice a golden brown. Allow the lasagna to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Source: adapted slightly from TastyKitchen.com by Laurie (SimplyScratch).

Chicken & Spinach Quesadillas

A few months ago I posted these amazing Pizza Quesadillas and I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I was posting about these amazing Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas. This is one of my go to recipes when I have left over chicken breast sitting in the fridge from dinner the night before. 

These seriously are some of the best quesadillas I make! I know a lot of restaurants have the “stand-by” standard chicken quesadillas on the menu, but these are so much better.  The vegetables get nice and tender, the chicken stays juicy, and the cheese binds everything together. Sometimes when I have some extra corn and/or black beans laying around I will toss them in the with the vegetables right before I add the chicken to the mixture — just to give it an other southwestern flavor kick. 

I cannot wait till the next time I have leftover chicken sitting around so I can make another one of these for lunch or dinner! 

Chicken & Spinach Quesadillas.

Chicken & Spinach Quesadillas
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Ingredients:
1/2 cup Mixed Peppers, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Onion, diced
3 cups Spinach
2-3 tablespoons Butter, plus a little extra
1/2 pound Chicken Breast (pre-cooked & chopped)
2 Tortillas
1/2 cup Kraft Italian Shredded Cheese
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Before you begin, make sure your chicken has been precooked and is chopped!

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté the peppers and onions together until they are nice and tender, approximately 5-7 minutes. As the vegetables sauté lightly season them with salt and pepper. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until you can smell the garlic. Add the spinach to the pan and toss together, sauté the spinach until it is cooked, which will take 2-3 minutes. If there is no butter left in the pan to cook the spinach and the mixture seems dry, add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Once the spinach is cooked add the chicken to the mixture, toss to combine and set aside.

Heat a clean large skillet over medium heat. Lightly butter one side of the tortilla or spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray. On the opposite side of the tortilla of the butter, spread 1/4 cup of the Italian Shredded Cheese and half of the chicken and spinach mixture. Fold the tortilla over and place it in the pan. Once the tortilla is browned flip it over and brown on the other side. It will take approximately 4-6 minutes per side. Remove the quesadilla from the skillet and allow it to sit for a few minutes before serving!

Source: Meghan’s Original!