Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Identity Crisis: Bruschetta Chicken Over Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Hey there! It's me. Don't remember who I am? That's ok...half of the time I don't remember either. For real. Life can really pack a wallop. Sometimes when we are in the thick of it we lose pieces of ourselves, and getting them back.. and fit into place..is difficult. That is where I am right now. But here are a few of the definite things I know...I am Jessie, I love to cook and bake, I am passionate about real food (my definition may differ from some), and I love to write. How that all comes together and makes sense...I am not sure.

Speaking of packing a wallop...you should totally make this bruschetta baked chicken I conjured up this weekend. It's a flavor wallop. And, like me, it's having a bit of an identity crisis...is it Italian, with its tomato basil garlicky topping, over melty mozzarella ...or is it good old fashioned, chicken-and-mashed-potatoes, American comfort food? It's not sure. But it is amazing.

See how I did that? Slid that in there and tied it all together. Smooth transitions are what I am all about.


Identity Crisis: Bruschetta Chicken Over Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Bruschetta Topping

2 cups of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 handful of fresh basil, chiffonade cut
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Toss to coat.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 1/2  pounds of red potatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream (possibly more)
3 tablespoons butter
1 head of roasted garlic
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Balsamic Glaze

1 cup of good quality (I hate when Ina does that, but it could not be avoided) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of brown sugar

4-5 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
1 medium red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
Sea salt and pepper

I am not tech savvy, and I do not possess the kind of resources to post this recipe in a fancy schmancy way. I know it may be a problem for some...but hey, I am doing the best I can with what I have.

First things first. The balsamic glaze for this recipe can be made up to a few days ahead of time...but, to be honest, I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this one, so I made it at the same time as everything else. I would not recommend this. The glaze did not have time to thicken up. If you don't want to make it that far in advance, it really only took about a half an hour for it to cool and thicken.

Here are the instructions...

(Sorry for the horrible pictures...they are stills that I created from iPhone videos used in my Instagram story. See...not tech savvy in the least. It's a bit laughable.)

Add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer, whisking every so often, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand to thicken.

On to roasting the garlic. This is super easy.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.


Simply peel a few of the outer layers of skin off of a head of garlic, then cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top. Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with about a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and wrap it loosely in the foil. You can put this into a small oven safe dish, such as a ramekin, or just place it right on the middle rack of your oven. Roast for 30 minutes. This should be done a few hours before you prepare the chicken. Because one thing you do not want to do is squeeze piping hot garlic out of the skin. Unless you enjoy a good second degree burn which will erase your fingerprints for a week.

Next, I like to always have everything washed, chopped, and ready to Tango. Kitchen chaos does not make for an enjoyable experience. This means that washing your potatoes, slicing the onion, and preparing the bruschetta topping should be your next priority.

For my bruschetta, I used locally grown organic small tomatoes. They were absolutely perfect in this dish.


We are ready to start bringing this bad boy together. 

I suggest that you begin by boiling your potatoes. Depending on their size, you can either cut them in half or into quarters. I used new potatoes that I purchased at the farm market, which were about the size of a golf ball, so I cut them in half. They will take roughly 20 minutes to cook from the point at which they start to boil.

While your potatoes are cooking, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle the foil with olive oil and smear it around a little, to prevent your chicken breasts from sticking. Lay your chicken breasts, smooth side down, on the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Turn them over and season the top.

Place a few slices of onion on each breast and season them with more salt and pepper.

Pop them into a 375 degree oven.

After 20 minutes, take them out and top the onion with slices of fresh mozzarella. I used Bel Gioioso slices. They are the perfect size. If you do not have slices available, you can slice your own to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

At this point it will look like you have a soupy mess...the joy of working with fresh mozzarella. But I promise it will get better.

Turn the oven to broil, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and browns a bit.

Remove the chicken from the oven.

It's time to discuss those roasted garlic mashed potatoes...which will likely be ready to put together while the chicken is baking.

Once they are tender, drain your potatoes and return them to the pan. Add the butter and heavy cream over top. Next, squeeze that delicious smelling garlic that you roasted earlier into the mix. Add some salt and pepper. Using a potato masher, mash them to your desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky. You can certainly add more cream...or a little whole milk...to thin them out if necessary. Taste to make sure that they are well seasoned. This is important! Sprinkle them with fresh parsley (I used dried, because it was all I had on hand), and give everything a stir to combine.

Finally, we plate this all up.


Place a scoop of mashed potatoes onto the middle of 4 or 5 (depending on how many breasts you baked) plates, and spread it out a bit. It should cover an area a little larger than the size of the chicken breasts. Next, place those cheesy chicken breasts onto the potatoes.Top with a generous helping of the bruschetta and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

This is honestly one of the best dinners to ever come out of my head and onto a plate. My son is still raving about it. So if you want to impress your family with something a little different, and huge on flavor, I urge you to give this a try!

If you enjoyed this post, and would like me to start posting more, please let me know by leaving a comment.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts

About 10 years ago I stumbled on a recipe for cheddar and apple stuffed chicken breasts. It sounded delicious, and very autumnal, so I was sold. At that point I was a beginner cook, at best. The recipe called for chicken breasts for be pounded thin, stuffed with filling, then rolled up and baked. It was a disaster. Picture raw chicken pieces flying from under my meat mallet, while those poor breasts were torn to bits by an overzealous beating. Then there was my brilliant attempt to save them by piling what poultry scraps were left onto a baking sheet and plopping gobs of cheesy apple stuffing on top. They may be the worst thing to ever come out of my kitchen. So, when I came across a picture of a gorgeous platter of apple stuffed chicken breasts on Pinterest, I decided that I needed a chance at redemption.

Sans meat mallet.

It pleases me down to my perfectionist soul to be able to present a relatively easy, delicious recipe for Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Which, to my amazement, came together on the first try. Even with my aversion to touching raw meat. 

Let’s get down to business.

You will need…

 Four boneless skinless chicken breasts.

One or two apples, depending on their size. I used Macintosh, because they are my favorite, but any slightly tart, firm baking apple will work.

Four ounces of Gouda cheese, shredded.

A half of a cup of seasoned bread crumbs. Store bought can be used, but I find that making my own saves money and taste better. I use the leftover ends of our bread loaves. Just zip them together in a food processor with some dried thyme and parsley flakes. They can be spread out on a cookie sheet and left in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry shelf, for two or three days, or until all of their moisture has evaporated. Store them in a tightly closed container for up to a month.

Two shallots, sliced to about a quarter inch thickness…

and sautè over medium-low heat in a tablespoon of butter (I use Kerrygold, a good grassfed butter, for all of my cooking and baking), until tender and golden.

In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, diced apples, shredded gouda, and slightly cooled sautéed scallions, with a few pinches of sea salt. 

Gently toss together until the stuffing is evenly mixed. Set aside and move on to preparing the chicken breasts.

 This here made all the difference. 

In lieu of pounding and rolling the chicken, I decided to cut pockets. I’m a genius! (Not really…I read this on a similar recipe.)
Using a sharp knife cut a deep pocket into each breast. Be careful not to butterfly or cut through it. Leave at least a half inch on the sides and bottom, so the filling won’t be able escape.

Fill each pocket with 1/4 of the stuffing mix.

Pack it as full as possible, without tearing the chicken.

Secure each breast with toothpicks. I used between 4 and 5 per breast. If you have areas that do tear, you can use the toothpicks to mend the holes. Simply insert the toothpick through one end of the hole and secure it to the opposite end. Just remember that it is there when it comes time to remove the toothpicks. That could be an unpleasant surprise.

Season each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

Once the chicken is prepared, heat two tablespoons of butter over medium to medium-high heat in a large cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet.

I prefer butter over olive oil because of its ability to withstand heat without degrading…and it just tastes better. 

Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until it is a nice golden brown. (Note: I put mine on bottom side up first…I should have done the opposite.)

Carefully flip each breast and cook for another 5 minutes.

Using a potholder, transfer the entire pan to a 425 degree oven for an additional 30 minutes...or until the internal temperature of the breasts reach 165 degrees.

While the chicken bakes, pour 1/2 cup of apple cider and 1/4 cup of a good white wine (that is so Ina, of me) into a measuring glass.

Once the chicken comes out of the oven, immediately plate it, leaving all of the buttery juices and chicken bits in the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the stovetop and bring contents to a bubble over medium-high heat. 

If the bottom of the pan seems to be lacking in butter, add another tablespoon.

Pour the cider and wine mixture into the skillet, whisking into it the contents of the bottom of the pan.

Whisking frequently, cook until reduced by at least half, and forms a thick, syrupy sauce.

While the sauce is reducing, remove the toothpicks from each breast.

Pour sauce over the plated Chicken breasts and they are ready to serve.

Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 apples, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bead crumbs (recipe below)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 slices of day old bread (The ends from a loaf of bread work well!)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
Preheat oven to 425°
1. Over medium heat, sauté sliced shallots in about one tablespoon of butter, until tender and golden. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine diced apples, Gouda, bread crumbs, cooled shallots and a few pinches of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss together gently.
3. Cut pockets into each chicken breast, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space around the edges.
4. Fill each breast with 1/4 of the stuffing mixture, and secure closed with toothpicks.
5. Over medium to medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an ovenproof skillet.
6. Carefully add stuffed chicken breasts to the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
7. Place the entire skillet on the middle rack of the preheated oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°.
9. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove form the oven and place on a platter.
10. Immediately transfer the skillet, with juices and chicken bits, to the stovetop and bring back to a bubble over medium-high heat.
11. Add apple cider and white wine to the skillet and whisking briskly. Cook until reduced by half and forms a syrupy sauce.
12. Pour the sauce over the plated chicken breasts.
Serve immediately.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches


Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches 10


Last week, while digging in our chest freezer, I found our forgotten ice cream maker. And, because I have food on the brain ALL OF THE TIME, I started dreaming up yummy ideas.

Since my kids have been begging me to make chocolate chip cookie sandwiches…with buttercream frosting…I decided that ice cream would be so much better. Especially now that we will be entering the summer season.

I mean, cookies AND ice cream…come on! One of the best combos ever, right?

Here is how I did it…completely from scratch…


cookie collage


This is my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It is based on a recipe that I found on All Recipes, and have tweaked a bit.

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

  • 1 cup pasture raised butter
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup organic brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (preferably pasture raised)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips (I love Ghirardelli)

In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) cream butter and sugars with a mixer, Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the edges as you go. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt into a medium size bowl. Pour dry ingredients into the wet mixture, and mix until well combined. Add the chocolate chips, and fold in with a spatula.

Bake for 10-12 minutes on a parchment lined baking pan.


Chocolate Chip Cookies


Now for my favorite part…

The Ice cream!


Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 4 cups half & half
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves completely. Follow the directions on your ice cream freezer.



ice cream 1


ice cream 2


We have the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment for our stand mixer. LOVE it! It is super simple to use…and does an awesome job. It is a little pricey, but we got ours at Bed Bath & Beyond a few years ago using a 20% off coupon. (FYI: The June issue of Better Homes and Gardens contains a 20% BB&B off coupon.)


ice cream 3


ice cream 4


ice cream 6


When your ice cream is finished…


ice cream 5


Transfer to a BPA free plastic container with a lid, and freeze for at least 4 hours.


ice cream 8


I couldn’t wait that long, so the first batch on cookie sandwiches were a little on the soft side.

To assemble, take one of your delicious homemade cookies…


ice cream 9


place a big scoop of ice cream in the center…


ice cream 12


and top with a second cookie.


I ce cream cookie sandwiches


Devour all that yumminess!

Now that I have busted out the ice cream maker, I foresee a lot of deliciousness this summer.

What is your favorite way to enjoy ice cream?


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Whole Wheat Coconut Carrot Apple Muffins


A few weeks ago I was experimenting with different muffin recipes to include in my kids’ lunches. I like to make a few dozen on Sundays, then freeze them in plastic bags, so I can pull them out in the morning and add to their lunch boxes throughout the week.

This recipe was surprisingly delicious. It was kind of a “dump” muffin. I had a sorry looking Granny Smith apple, some limp carrots and a bag of coconut taking up room in my fridge. The combination was spot on! They may even be the best muffins I have ever eaten…and as an added bonus…they are healthy!


cocnut apple carro muffins 2

Coconut Carrot Apple Muffins

2 cups organic whole wheat flour (I love King Arthur flours)

1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 eggs (room temperature)

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar (or organic brown sugar)

1/2 cup organic shredded coconut

1 cup organic shredded carrots

1 cup organic shredded Granny Smith apples


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir lightly to incorporate.
  • In a medium bowl, beat eggs, then add coconut oil, milk, syrup and coconut palm sugar. Whisk wet ingredients until well combined.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add wet mixture. Fold gently until just incorporated.
  • Add shredded coconut, carrots and apples. Fold with a spatula until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Pour into muffin cups.
  • Bake for 16-20 minutes.

Happy muffin making!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Little Of This…A Little Of That…Catching Up…and a Recipe!


Phew! We have been really busy this summer! I feel like I hardly get a chance to catch my breath…before we are on to the next thing. Luckily, I am back to “normal” work weeks (no more overtime…I hope). Last weekend I even enjoyed my first FULL weekend off in 3 summers!

I will get right to it!

This is what our garden looks like right now…

garden 2013

The Lord has certainly blessed us with an abundant crop! We are currently harvesting cabbage, lettuce, green beans, peas, cucumbers, kale, beets, green peppers, jalapeños dill, cilantro and basil. We look forward to tomatoes, eggplant, corn, squash and pie pumpkins soon!

Everything was planted and tended by my green-thumbed husband. He is AMAZING! We do not use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Eric goes through the garden every night and squashes bugs and eggs by hand…sometimes it takes him hours. Love that man.

canning 1

Canning has become a main focus lately. With all of those delicious veggies, we simply can not eat the amount we produce. Preserving and freezing seem to be the best way to save some of the summer goodness for winter. We are also looking into fermentation…

When we are not working, gardening, cooking, canning and cleaning…

bike trail 1

We enjoy taking our kiddos on a local bike trail, which is right on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. Gabe loves to ride his scooter, while Lily practices for the day we remove her training wheels (next month!)…and Eric and I walk.  I take a ton of pictures, making everyone CRAZY. But…come on! We are BLESSED to live in one of the most beautiful areas in this state! (And my kids are way too adorable not to constantly be snapping pictures ofWinking smile)

Unfortunately…the stress of summer has caused some major acne issues for me. So, a few weeks ago I decided to purchase a Clarisonic Mia2. The cost initially freaked me out a bit. But, I went to the Sephora website, and read all of the reviews. Yep. ALL of them (it took a few days). I decided to give it a try. There was a Sephora money-back guarantee…so I figured I did not have anything to lose.

clear skin

Here are my results this far! I am using it on the high speed, with a normal brush. I also use Philosophy’s Clear Days Ahead cleanser. I really happy! I have noticed some smaller breakouts…that only last for a day…but I think that my skin is just getting rid of impurities and all of the gross stuff.

I can not wait to see my 4 week results Smile 

Sidenote: I am not being compensated in any way for this post. These opinions are 100% mine. These companies do not know me, from Adam Winking smile I just genuinely like the products and companies.

For my last trick…not really a trick, just a recipe. My brain is whacking out right now…haha!

Italian style bake

My mom suggested that I try this recipe. It is in the new issue of All Recipes Magazine (the one I have a PUBLISHED recipe in…not bragging at allWinking smile). She told me that she left out the crescent rolls (ICKY, processed nattiness) and baked it as a casserole. I took it a step farther (maybe two) and added some extra cheese…and tweaked the seasoning a bit.

Italian Style Zucchini Bake

  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • 1 cup of sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter (please use grass fed, pasture raised…if not…use extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (6 oz.) (grass-fed, pastured)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar (4 oz.) (again, pastured and grass-fed…pretty please)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (2-4 oz.) (At this point do I even have to tell you what kind? Hehe!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the sliced zucchini and onions. Cook for about 8-10 minutes over medium heat, until veggies are tender. While the veggies are cooking (remember to stir them occasionally), shred the cheeses. Beat 2 eggs into a medium size bowl. Add the cheeses to the eggs, and stir.

When the veggies are tender, add the seasonings. Remove skillet from heat. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over top and stir a bit to combine.

Using oven mitts (very important…I am now nursing a blistered thumb…doh!), put the skillet into the preheated oven.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

This was REALLY killer delicious!

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! I know some of you are already dealing with the back to school season. We do not start until after Labor Day (thankfully!)…but I have already started shopping…

back to school

Zappos is my lifesaver when it comes to shoes for Gabe. His autism interferes with his fine motor function…and the DiGeorge Syndrome is at fault for low muscle tone…so I have to find him “cool” shoes with velcro…or laced shoes that he can just slip on. We always love Vans…and this year we are trying Merrells. For the past few years we have gotten him New Balance, but last year they frayed in the first week! I know…they are spendy…but we pay for quality in our house. Other, less expensive shoes, can not take the beating that child doles out!

That’s all I have for you people. I am writing down endless ideas for posts this fall (Sunday Suppers, anyone?)…so I am hoping the stars will align, and the angels will sing (going a little far?), and I will finally be able to make my blog a priority!